Amazing Audiobooks (#AA2022) Featured Review of Pumpkin by Julie Murphy

Pumpkin Audiobook by Julie Murphy cover art

Pumpkin by Julie Murphy; narrated by Chad Burris
Publisher: Balzer & Bray
Release date: May 24, 2021
ISBN: 9780063088764

Look out, Clover City, you’ve got a new queen.

It’s not always easy to be the fat, flamboyantly gay kid in small-town Texas, which is why Waylon Brewer can’t wait until graduation. Then, he and his twin, Clementine, can move to Austin, and he can go full Waylon and become his best, fabulous self.  

Except Clementine doesn’t want to go to Austin, something Waylon finds out the same night his boyfriend dumps him. When Waylon hears the news, he impulsively creates an audition tape for his favorite TV drag show. Much to his dismay, the video is shared with his whole school, and he is nominated for Prom Queen. With help from some friends and some fellow queens, Waylon decides to embrace the nomination. Along the way, he learns that he doesn’t have to wait to be fully himself.

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Best Fiction for Young Adults (#BFYA2022) Featured Review of Jay’s Gay Agenda by Jason June

Jay's Gay Agenda Cover Art

Jay’s Gay Agenda by Jason June
HarperCollins / HarperTeen
Publication Date: June 1, 2021
ISBN: 978-0063015159 

Jay Collier is an out and proud white gay teen in rural Washington. As everyone in school has paired off and are busy experiencing their first relationships, Jay has no one to date. He creates “Jay’s Gay Agenda”: a bucket list of relationship experiences he wants to have. When his family moves to Seattle at the start of his senior year, he is overjoyed at the idea of being surrounded by other queer teens and hopes to start marking things off his list. As Jay jumps into life at his new school and starts making new friends, he discovers that the balancing act between balancing his time and energy between his new and old friends is hard; throw in dating and crossing off agenda experiences and suddenly life is really complicated. 

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Best Fiction for Young Adults (#BFYA2022) Nominations Round-Up, Summer

Due to the large number of nominees, not all titles are shown here. See full list below.

Each quarter, the Selected Lists teams compile the titles that have been officially nominated to date. These books have been suggested by the team or through the title suggestion form, read by multiple members of the team, and received approval to be designated an official nomination. At the end of the year, the final list of nominations and each Selected List’s Top Ten will be chosen from these titles.

Amari and the Night Brothers. By B.B. Alston. HarperCollins/Balzer + Bray, $17.99 (9780062975164).

Amari’s brother Quinton has disappeared, and her only hope of finding him is to follow in his footsteps and become a Junior Agent with the Bureau of Supernatural Affairs. 

Amber and Clay. By Laura Amy Schlitz. Candlewick Press, $22.99 (9781536201222). 

In ancient Greece, two unlikely friends Rhaskos and Melisto find their lives intertwined in a search for freedom and purpose. As a ghost bound to Rhaskos, Melisto must help free him before she can find her own rest in the Halls of Hades.

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Best Fiction for Young Adults (#BFYA2022) Featured Review of The Sky Blues by Robbie Couch

The Sky Blues Cover Art

The Sky Blues by Robbie Couch
Simon and Schuster Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: April 6, 2021
ISBN: 978-1534477858

White teen Sky is one of the only openly gay people in his small town of Rock Ledge, MI, and he has a major crush on a fellow classmate named Ali, an Arab-American. Sky and his best friend Bree, also white, concoct a plan for Sky to enact a dramatic promposal that will get Ali to go to prom with him. Plans get derailed when photos involving Sky and Ali are sent out to the entire senior class through a hacked email newsletter, along with racist and homophobic comments. Sky is devastated, believing that his classmates will shun him. Much to his surprise, his classmates show support in growing numbers. Sky, Bree, Ali and their friends Marshall, a straight black teen, and Teddy, Marshall’s athletic white friend, join forces to suss out the bully responsible for the offensive email while publicly showing support for Sky and Ali with DIY t-shirts and clever hashtags. 

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Best Fiction for Young Adults (#BFYA2022) Featured Review of Fat Chance, Charlie Vega by Crystal Maldonado

The Selected Lists teams read throughout the year in search of the best titles published in their respective categories. Once a book is suggested (either internally or through the field nomination form), it must pass through a review process to be designated an official nomination. 

Each week, the teams will feature a review of one of the officially nominated titles. Additional titles to receive this designation will be listed as well. At year’s end, the team will use that list of nominated titles to select a final list and Top Ten. The previous years’ lists are also made available on The Hub.

Cover Art

Fat Chance, Charlie Vega by Crystal Maldonado
Holiday House
Publication Date: February 2, 2021
ISBN: 978-0823447176 

Meet Charlie Vega, half Puerto Rican in a white Connecticut town, proudly body-positive (or trying to be) despite her mother’s fat-shaming, and never been kissed. Charlie is best known as the best friend of Amelia, who is intelligent, beautiful, and all-around amazing in every way. When a cute coworker takes an interest in her, Charlie might finally be seen for herself instead of the fat girl standing in Amelia’s perfect shadow. But Charlie has been comparing herself to her BFF for years, and old habits die hard. Can Charlie throw off mistrust and self-doubt and learn to love herself first?

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What to Do After Your Debut? Keep Writing, Of Course!

The 2021 Morris Award Finalists (shown above) were announced in December, and the winner will be revealed at the ALA Youth Media Awards on January 25. First granted in 2009, the William C. Morris YA Debut Award recognizes the most impressive debut published in Young Adult Literature each year.

With more than a decade of winners to look back on, let’s see which of our former debuts are still impressing readers today.

2010’s Morris Award went to L. K. Madigan’s Flash Burnout. Tragically, the author passed away just a year after receiving the award. The rest of the finalists from that year, however, have continued to contribute to YA in significant ways, perhaps none more notably that Nina LaCour, who went on to win the 2018 Printz Award for We Are Okay. LaCour’s latest novel, Watch Over Me, has been nominated for the 2021 Best Fiction for Young Adults Selected List.

In fact, several names on the 2021 BFYA nominations list were originally finalists for the Morris Award, including 2015’s Jessie Ann Foley, 2016’s Anna-Marie McLemore, 2018’s Nic Stone, and David Yoon in 2020.

Last year’s winner, Ben Phillippe, has been nominated. Both the winner of the 2019 Morris Award and one of its finalists have companion books that were nominated — Adib Khorram with Darius the Great Deserves Better and Tomi Adeyemi with Children of Virtue and Vengeance. And Becky Albertalli, the winner in 2016, is enjoying praise this year for Yes No Maybe So, cowritten with Aisha Saeed.

What about books out in 2021? Morris Award recipients have those, too!

Just released is Concrete Rose, 2018 Morris Award winner Angie Thomas’s follow up to The Hate U Give.

And out in August is In the Wild Light from 2017 Morris Award winner Jeff Zentner.

In the Wild Light by Jeff Zentner

The moral of the story is this: no matter which finalist is chosen in 2021, we will look forward to reading them for years to come.

Best Fiction for Young Adults (#BFYA2021) Nominees Round Up, March 20 Edition

Click here to see all of the current Best Fiction for Young Adults nominees along with more information about the list and past years’ selections.

Yes No Maybe So by Becky Albertalli and Aisha Saeed
Balzer + Bray / HarperCollins
Publication date: February 4, 2020
ISBN: 978-0062937049

When painfully shy Jamie and change-averse Maya are forced by their mothers to team up to canvas for a local progressive political candidate, it’s not the ideal summer either of them planned. Cultural misunderstandings fly as Jamie helps plan his little sister’s bat mitzvah and Maya fasts for Ramadan, and they never know when the face on the other side of the door they’re knocking on will be an unfriendly one. Still, as election day gets closer, so do Jamie and Maya. And while falling in love might be easy, separating the personal from the political is harder than it seems.

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#ALAMW19 Recap: Best Fiction for Young Adults 2019 Top Ten

During the Teen Feedback Session at ALA Midwinter, teens from Seattle and Oregon shared their opinions about the books on the Best Fiction for Young Adults 2019 list. With their input, the BFYA 2019 Blogging team determined the BFYA 2019 Top Ten:

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A Morris Award Reflection

Three years ago, I sat in a locked room and deliberated with my Morris Award Committee colleagues. We laughed and argued over the merits of each of our five finalists before reaching a decision. I was teary-eyed as our winner was announced and the audience cheered. I celebrated at the Morris/Nonfiction Award Ceremony and flew home that night, exhausted.

There is something special about the Morris Award because it is given to a debut novel. I feel a special connection to the five debut authors whose work I spent a lot of time with. Sort of the way I feel about my nieces and nephews — proud, but not because I had any real part in their creation. Like a good Auntie following my siblings’ children, I have followed the career paths of  the five 2016 Morris finalists. Here’s what they have been up to since 2016.

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#BFYA2019 Nominees Round Up, December 10 Edition

The House of One Thousand Eyes by Michelle Barker
Annick Press
Publication Date: September 11, 2018
ISBN: 978-1773210711

When Lena’s subversive uncle disappears without a trace in Communist East Berlin, she risks everything to find out what happened to him.

Following her confinement in a mental institution due to her breakdown over the tragic death of her parents in a factory accident, Lena is released to live with her stern auntie in East Berlin. Because everyone thinks Lena is simple, she is allowed to work night shifts as a cleaning girl at the State Security Service’s headquarters; she lives a regimented, routine life and looks forward to Sunday afternoons spent with her beloved uncle Erich, a writer with subversive ideas and a loose regard for authority. One night following one of their Sunday outings, Erich disappears. Lena mounts a frantic search for him, one which leads her to dead ends everywhere she looks: his books vanished from the shelves of libraries and bookstores and all records of him purged from official files; it is as if he never existed. Desperate to discover what happened to him, Lena begins a quiet but dangerous investigation, snooping around Stasi offices in the dead of night, despite the watchful eyes of her coworker Jutta, her strict aunt at home, and who knows whom else. What she uncovers shakes up everything she thought she knew, casting new light on her parents’ deaths and making her question everything she had been told about the “Better Germany.”

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