T. S. Eliot famously opened his classic poem “The Waste Land” by proclaiming April “the cruelest month,” and students everywhere might agree when April rolls around and teachers pull out their well-worn poetry unit. April is National Poetry Month, which for poetry lovers means the spotlight shines on their favorites, old and new. We encourage the celebration of poetry year round, but in honor of the 25th anniversary of this special designation, here are 25 new titles, ideas, and resources to mark the occasion.
1. Though she needs no real introduction, we would be remiss if we didn’t start our list with NY Times #1 bestseller Amanda Gorman and her forthcoming collection, which includes her inaugural poem, “The Hill We Climb.”
2. Invite your teens to participate in the Dear Poet project, where young people get to engage directly with award-winning poets, such as Janice Lobo Sapigao:
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.
Becoming Muhammad Ali. By James Patterson and Kwame Alexander.Art by Dawud Anyabwile. 2020. Little, Brown/JIMMY Patterson. $16.99 (9780316498166).
James Patterson and Kwame Alexander tackle the life of Cassius Clay before he became Muhammad Ali in this novel that mixes prose and verse.
Chlorine Sky. By Mahogany L. Browne. Penguin Random House/Crown. $17.99 (9780593176399).
In this novel in verse, Mahogany Browne explores what it’s like to lose a best friend but find yourself.
Becoming Muhammad Ali by James Patterson, Kwame Alexander, and Dawud Anyabwile (illustrator) Jimmy Patterson Books / Little, Brown and Company Publication Date: October 5, 2020 ISBN: 978-0399547966
Cassius Clay Jr. was always the greatest—even if everyone didn’t know it yet. Before the world knew him as Muhammad Ali, Cassius hung out with friends, loved his family, and struggled with school, all against the backdrop of 1950s Louisville, Kentucky. In this fictionalized biography, writers James Patterson and Kwame Alexander show the reader Cassius’ life with a mix of prose and poetry.
The book is engaging and full of heart, with fully realized characters and a well-paced plot. The cover draws you in, and Dawud Anyabwile’s art throughout adds to the book’s appeal. The mix of prose and poetry adds interest. Students will be able to see themselves in Cassius and his best friend, Lucky.
Don’t Cosplay With My Heart by Cecil Castellucci Scholastic Press Publication Date: January 2, 2018 ISBN: 9781338125498
Edan Kupferman’s life sucks–or at least it does now. Her father is being “sequestered” as his bookkeeping practices for some major motion pictures are pending trial, her mother is too depressed to leave the bedroom, and her grandma has swooped in to try and pick up the slack. Fortunately, Edan has Gargantua, the antihero of her favorite graphic novel/cartoon Team Tomorrow.
Given the popularity of comics, it isn’t surprising that many works originally created and released as books and films have been adapted into comics and graphic novels. Not only does this bring these stories to a new audience, but in the process of adapting and illustrating these stories, the creators of the comics are able to add their own take on the original version. In the past, I’ve written about Hope Larson’s adaptation of A Wrinkle in Time and Leigh Dragoon’s adaptation of Legend by Marie Lu in my post on science fiction comics, but this list offers even more options for thought provoking adaptations of some popular works.
Last month, we asked about your favorite historical fiction set in 18th century North America. A whopping 48% of you voted for Laurie Halse Anderson’s Chains and/or its sequel, Forged (good news for fans of the series; the third and final volume, Ashes, has a tentative publication date of November 20, 2016). The second and third most popular choices were, respectively, either volume of M.T. Anderson’s The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing (25%), followed by any of the 15 titles by Ann Rinaldi depicting the era (21%). Joseph Bruchac’s Winter People garnered 6% of the vote; The Portsmouth Alarm, by Terri A. DeMitchell, did not receive any votes.
This month, as many of us take refuge in that classic summertime heat-busting destination, the air-conditioned refrigerated movie theater, the Hub wants to know: which current or upcoming YA/cross-over page-to-screen adaptation are you most excited about?
It was just announced that the procedural drama Boneswill be entering its final season this fall. I have been keeping up with Dr. Brennan and her gang of “squints” since the beginning, and although I think it would be difficult to convince her to read any young adult fiction, if she were to ask me for suggestions, these are books I think she would enjoy:
Ask the Dark by Henry Turner. There are boys missing in Billy’s neighborhood, and Billy wants to earn the reward for finding them, which will help his family keep their home. He may be in for more than he bargained, however.
Confessions of a Murder Suspect by James Patterson. Tandy wakes up to find police in her home and her parents dead. She was the last one to see them alive. If no one entered their apartment in the night, she or one of her siblings must be the murderer.
Fans of the Impossible Life by Kate Scelsa. Selby, Mira, and Jeremy are thrown together and attempt to survive high school as Jeremy discovers that Mira and Selby are keeping things hidden. Can they overcome their secrets together?
Books with lots of action are often a home run with readers, especially those who like a plot-driven story. They can cross a wide-range of genres, from spy fiction to murder mysteries.
Action books are often very heavy on the plot with danger pulling the story forward, leaving readers on the edge of their seat desperate to know what happens next. Elements of risk and surprise are key factors in action stories. The events that trigger the action or danger are typically outside the protagonist’s day to day life. Often, at the end of the story, the hero or heroine is never the same.
With action novels, readers quickly turn the pages – often reading these novels in a single setting. In a series, there is often an overall arc that ties all the books together, even though the primary plot of the book is resolved.
Actions books are perfect escapism reads; this type of story rarely happens in real life.
Readers like rooting for the underdogs. Often times these teen characters go against supposedly smarter more savvy adults and yet, they are victorious in their quest. It’s hard not to root for the underdog.
I was intrigued by the concept of iZombie before I ever saw an episode. A girl who becomes a zombie, but is fighting her zombie impulses? Moreover, a girl who works in a medical examiner’s office to have easy access to her new food source and conveniently is able to step into the shoes of those whose brains she eats? A girl who now solves crimes through the “visions” she has from eating brains? Sign me up!
Here are some great zombie, monster, and murder mystery reads that I would recommend to Liv Moore:
This is the first installment in the Benny Imura series, and it follows Benny as he turns fifteen in post-apocalyptic America and is forced to work in the last job he’d ever thought he’d have: apprentice zombie killer.
Adults reading young adult books has been discussed here, and here and here, and let’s keep talking about it! YA has clearly been established as a force as we continue to see titles fly off the shelves at libraries and book stores (not to mention those virtually flying onto smart phones, kindles, and nooks.) Clearly it’s not only teens reading YA anymore.
Speaking of adults reading YA… do you know any adults stuck in a reading rut who might appreciate some suggestions? Two of the most widely-read adult fiction genres today are horror and romance. There are some truly wonderful YA alternatives out there — and it can be argued that YA authors take greater risks than their mainstream adult genre counterparts do– resulting in diverse, exciting, and ground-breaking books. Exclusively reading genre selections which follow an established and familiar formula (even when the formula works) can become tedious. Here are some suggestions to help a genre reader shake things up.
James Patterson fans will enjoy Barry Lyga’s I Hunt Killers series: a nail-bittingly suspenseful serial killer manhunt trilogy with a flawed hero. Lyga explores issues of identity, parenthood, nature vs nurture, race, and attraction.
Stephen King readers will like Daniel Kraus’s terrifying Rotters (2012 Odyssey Award winner)and Scowler (2014 Odyssey Award winner). Grave digging, monstrous fathers, rat kings, gruesome imagery… Kraus is truly a master of literary horror; nothing run of the mill here!
Dean Koontz lovers will enjoy TheGirl From the Well by Rin Chupeco: a terrifying tale of vengeful ghost named Okiko. This spooky tale was inspired by Japanese folklore.