Quick Picks for Reluctant Readers (#QP2022) Featured Review of Becoming Muhammad Ali by James Patterson & Kwame Alexander, and illustrated by Dawud Anyabwile

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.

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Graphic Novels and Comics to Enjoy for Black History Month — or anytime!

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

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.

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Black History is American History – Classroom Connections

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.

YALSA’s 2021 Excellence in Nonfiction Celebration is tonight (click here to register), and a booktalk event featuring the full list of nominated titles will take place on February 24. On that list is the excellent Lifting as we Climb: Black Women’s Battle for the Ballot Box by Evette Dionne.

Lifting As We Climb by Evette Dionne

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.

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Quick Picks for Reluctant Readers (#QP2021) Nominees Round Up, December 1 Edition

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 Book Cover
Class Act by Jerry Craft

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. 

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Amazing Audiobooks (#AA2021) Nominees Round Up, March 11 Edition

Click here to see all of the current Amazing Audiobooks nominees along with more information about the list and past years’ selections.

cover art

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.

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Quick Picks for Reluctant Readers (#QP2020) Nominees Round Up, November 26 Edition

Click here to see all of the current Quick Picks for Reluctant Readers nominees along with more information about the list and past years’ selections.

cover artChangeling (Sorcery and Society #1) and Fledgeling (Sorcery and Society #2) by Molly Harper
Nancy Yost Literary Agency, Inc
Published August 22nd, 2018 and July 18th, 2019
ISBN: 9781641970457 and ISBN: 9781076160881

14 year-old Sarah Smith has grown up as a “snipe,” a non-magical member of the servant class.  One day, while in a panic, she shows a remarkable feat of magic in front of her employer. A snipe displaying magical powers could shake the foundations of society, so her employer takes her in as a “distant cousin” and introduces her to elite society as such.  Suddenly thrust into the upper class and enrolled at a magic school under a new name, Sarah must protect her secret from mean girls and teachers alike.

In Fledgling, further adventures of Sarah Smith ensue. She is finding her place at school with her friends. However, she feels a strong pull to find the other children like her, those with magic but not born into the elite magical class. Intrigue, romance and exciting action bring this chapter of the series to a satisfying close.

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Quick Picks for Reluctant Readers (#QP2020) Nominees Round Up, June 4 Edition

Click here to see all of the current Quick Picks for Reluctant Readers nominees along with more information about the list and past years’ selections.

Black Enough: Stories of Being Young & Black in America Edited by Ibi Zoboi, with stories by Jason Reynolds, Nic Stone, Liara Tamani, Renée Watson, Rita Williams-Garcia and more.
Balzer + Bray
Publication Date: January 8th 2019
ISBN: 9780062698728

Black Enough is a collection of 17 short stories written by some of the biggest name Black authors of YA.  The young Black people in these stories confront all the typical teenage life experiences as well as some atypical ones.  Some have tragedy and some romance, and all of the stories are shaped with rich plots and emotions.

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#BFYA2019 Nominees Round Up, December 3 Edition

After the Fire by Will Hill
Sourcebooks Fire/Sourcebooks
Publication Date: October 2, 2018
ISBN: 9781492669791

Moonbeam’s entire life has been confined to the Lord’s Legion compound in the Texas desert. Citing dangerous outsiders, Father John, the self proclaimed voice of God and despotic church leader, has forbidden members to leave the compound. After federal agents storm the church and it is destroyed in a fire, Moonbeam finds herself in recovery at a hospital where she must confront the reality behind Father John’s lies and come to terms with her own actions.

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#QP2019 Nominees Round Up, November 27 Edition

The Red Ribbon by Lucy Adlington
Candlewick Press
Publication Date: September 11, 2018
ISBN-13: 9781536201048 

Ella is running for her life . . . toward a job as a seamstress in a remarkable sewing workshop at the notorious concentration camp of Auschwitz. As she works past her denial and naiveté and struggles to survive, she makes important relationships and life-changing choices.

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#ALAAC18 Recap: Printz Award Reception

On Friday, June 22, the Printz and Printz honor winners, announced in February at Midwinter, formally accepted their prizes.

As a fan of YA literature, one of the most exciting things about the Printz reception is how many authors (not just the year’s honorees!) are in attendance. Sitting in the audience and recognizing folks from their book jacket photos like Rebecca Stead, Tahereh Mafi, and Ransom Riggs truly made me feel like I was at the book world’s [much cozier] version of the Emmys and transformed a regular hotel conference room into something much greater.

After opening remarks from YALSA president Sandra Hughes-Hassell and 2018 Printz Committee Chair Angela Carstensen, each honoree spoke about their work and writing careers. Below is a brief recap of each speech from this special night. For more information about the Printz award and past winners, see the YALSA website and the Teen Book Finder App.

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