I laughed cried and marveled at Won’t You Be My Neighbor, the biography of Fred Rogers, the host of Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood. I didn’t grow up watching Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood and was amazed by the thought Fred Rogers put into each episode and the range of current topics he addressed. He looked nerdy and trained as a Presbyterian minister; he was a man on a mission. He chose children’s television as his means to nurture young children and help them make sense of the world. He was very concerned about people’s feelings and making personal connections with his viewers, speaking directly to them and looking into the camera as if looking into their eyes. I think a teen Fred Rogers would enjoy books that do the same sort of thing.
The Best Fiction for Young Adults feedback session is one of the best parts of every ALA conference. Local teens get the opportunity to read books that have been nominated for #BFYA and give their feedback about the titles. It’s always interesting to hear the perspective of real teens, and the group in New Orleans were particularly amazing. They all sounded like professional book reviewers, and I wish there had been time to talk with them at length about the books they enjoyed.
Here are some of the titles the teens particularly liked from this year’s #BFYA nominees list along with a little of their feedback and a link to each title’s nomination post (when available.)
What the Night Sings by Vesper Stamper Knopf Books for Young Readers / Penguin Random House Publication Date: February 20, 2018 ISBN: 978-1524700386
Saved by music, Gerta Rausch survived the horrors of Auschwitz as a member of the Women’s Orchestra, but liberation comes with difficulty as she tries to rebuild the life that was taken from her. Trying to protect his family from detainment, Gerta’s beloved father kept their family’s Jewish heritage a secret from her, leaving her to also grapple with her new Jewish identity as well as recovering from losing her beautiful singing voice after years of starvation and abuse. With the help of a fellow survivor who she considers a dear friend, but he feels much more, Gerta is also faced with two loves and the decision about who she will spend her new life with.
WaR: Wizards and Robots by Will.i.am and Brian David Johnson Narrated by Brian David Johnson, Daniel Weyman, Ray Panthaki, Iwan Rheon, and Becca Stewart Audio Published by Penguin Books Ltd. Publication Date: January 25, 2018 ASIN: B06XWZ1W7G
WaR: Wizards and Robots is a complex story taking place across several different time periods as humans, robots, wizards, and aliens fight to make their vision of the future a reality. Ada Luring is struggling to cope with the death of her father, the fact that her best friend has a new best friend, and that her ex-boyfriend is moving on. The arrival of Gellar, a wizard who warns her that other wizards are coming to kill her, her mother, and destroy her mother’s robot, Hawking, makes all of these other concerns trivial by comparison. Can a robot hating wizard and a budding robotic engineer work together to save the world?