On the Hook by Francisco X. Stork Scholastic Press Publication Date: May 18, 2021 ISBN: 978-1338692150
The last few years haven’t been easy for Hector and his family. His father’s untimely death resulted in the loss of their home and subsequent move to the projects, and sent his brother Fili into a battle with depression and alcohol abuse. But things seem to be looking up–Hector’s become a star player on the school’s chess team and just recently won a prestigious essay contest. Even Fili seems to be doing better. Then, Joey, the younger brother of a local gang member, targets Hector, intimidating him and threatening to kill him. Terrified, but too afraid to tell anyone, Hector’s life begins spiraling downhill again, culminating in a tragic encounter that lands Hector in a reformatory school along with his nemesis, Joey.
Run: Book One by John Lewis, Andrew Aydin, L. Fury, and Nate Powell Abrams ComicArts / Abrams Books Publication Date: August 3, 2021 ISBN: 9781419730696
The song “We Shall Overcome” comes to mind as you read the graphic novel memoir of the great John Lewis. His memoir centers on illuminating the reality of our country’s battle with racism. From sharing the history of the Vietnam War to showing the challenges of voting as Black Americans—and the brutal treatment that Black people endure just to advocate for equality—each moment can be felt, seen, and heard as you turn the pages of this memoir. This nonfiction graphic novel is a great tool to supplement textbooks.
Before the Ever After by Jacqueline Woodson Nancy Paulsen Books/Penguin Random House Publication Date: September 1, 2020 ISBN: 978-0399545436
ZT has the perfect life. He has a group of friends he’s super tight with. His family is loving and supportive, and his dad is a football superstar. But this idyllic life begins to unravel when his father starts getting debilitating migraines, ending his football career. As his father begins to lose his memory, ZT learns that not all success stories have happy endings. And sometimes supporting the people we love most can be incredibly difficult.
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.
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Admission. By Julie Buxbaum. Read by Julia Whelan. 2020. Penguin Random House Audio Publishing Group/Listening Library, $63 (9780593216996).
Chloe, privileged daughter of a beloved celebrity, watches helplessly as her mother is caught up in a college admission scandal benefiting her. Julia Whelan skillfully unpacks the emotions that go with Chloe’s questioning whether her parents believe she is enough.
Amari believes her missing brother is alive. When a mysterious suitcase appears in her closest, she is whisked away to a land of magic. To find her brother, Amari must pass a series of tests in order to enter the Bureau of Supernatural Affairs. Strong narration supports this fantastical adventure.
When You Look Like Us by Pamela N. Harris; Narrated by Preston Butler III Quill Tree Books Publication date: January 5, 2021 ISBN: 9780063064317
Looking like they do, with brown skin, Jay, his friends and neighbors live knowing they are already one step behind. Living in their neighborhood presents its own challenges where drug deals, violence, and both police interference AND ignorance are day to day problems. But now Jay’s sister Nic has disappeared and going missing in their neighborhood isn’t enough to warrant police investigation. Not wanting to worry his grandmother, Jay strikes out on his own to find her leading him into danger and into finding an unlikely friend.
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.
Thanks to YALSA member Annierra Matthews, a Research Services Librarian at Mercer University, for compiling this collection of excellent graphic novels and comics featuring Black characters and/or produced by Black creators. Click here for the fiction collection she curated earlier this month.
Bingo Love by Tee Franklin, Jenn St.-Onge, Joy San, and Genevieve FT: Hazel and Mari fall in love with each other at church bingo in ’63. Torn apart by others around them, they can’t be together. Years later, they meet again at bingo and find the bravery to share their love with the world.
This month, as we honor and celebrate Black History, we also recognize that Black History is not a box to be checked during the month of February alone. Black History is American History, and these resources are critical to the conversation, this month and every month of the year.
This Coretta Scott King honoree focuses on the vital and often overlooked role of Black Women in the Suffrage Movement and connects the dots from the abolition of slavery to women’s suffrage, on to the civil rights movement and today’s activism, where women were and continue to be necessary and significant leaders.
The Library of Congress Born in Slavery collection offers digitized narratives collected as part of the Federal Writers’ Project (FWP) in the New Deal-era Work Projects Administration (WPA). These oral histories and photographs preserve the first person accounts of formerly enslaved people.
Click here to see all of the current Quick Picks nominees along with more information about the list and past years’ selections.
Class Act by Jerry Craft Quill Tree Books Publication Date: October 6, 2020 ISBN: 9780062885517
In this follow-up to New Kid, familiar characters Jordan, Drew, and Liam return, but this time most of the story focuses on eighth grader Drew, one of the only Black students at the mostly white private school. The boys wrestle with typical middle school things like puberty, and evolving friendships, but also more important, complex issues like identity, acceptance, and race and class. Despite being friends, Jordan, Drew, and Liam live very different lives and that becomes more apparent for them in this installment.
Click here to see all of the current Amazing Audiobooks nominees along with more information about the list and past years’ selections.
Light It Up by Kekla Magoon; Narrated by Landon Woodson, Karen Chilton, Cherise Booth, Eevin Hartsough, Christopher Carley, Peter Jay Fernandez, T.Ryder Smith, Julian Thomas, Kevin R. Free, and Korey Jackson Recorded Books Publication Date: October 22, 2019 ISBN: 978-1250128898 Shae Tatum hurries home from school one night. She has her earphones on, tuning out the world around her. Shae is tall and looks much older than her thirteen years. A case of mistaken identity leads to tragedy.