The Door of No Return by Kwame Alexander Little, Brown Young Readers September 27, 2022 ISBN: 9780316442060
Kofi Offin experiences the joys and difficulties of village life in 1860’s Ghana. He enjoys the storytelling of his elders and swimming in the nearby river, while maintaining friendships and rivalries with his peers. When Kofi’s brother accidentally kills a member of a rival tribe in a wrestling match, the bonds of tradition and family run deep and strong. Though repeatedly warned not to leave the confines of the village after dark, Kofi goes for a nighttime swim. Tragically, he is captured into the slave trade, and taken to ‘the door of no return’ where a terrifying trans-Atlantic journey begins.
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.
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.
Click here to see all of the current Great Graphic Novels nominees along with more information about the list and past years’ selections.
Skyward, vol. 3: Fix the World by Joe Henderson, Illustrated by Lee Garbett Image Comics Publication Date: September 3, 2019 ISBN: 978-1534312432
Willa and Edison have split up in order to try to save the world. Edison is back in Chicago to warn everyone about the farmer/bug invasion headed their way and to come up with a plan to stop them. Willa is in Kansas City following her father’s last words to fix gravity, but Barrow is right behind her—trying to stop her. What neither of them realizes is that the “big red button” doesn’t actually fix gravity, it opens the path to the safe underground town, Crystal Springs, that Willa’s father built as a prototype city to protect people when gravity failed. Only gravity failed earlier than anticipated and the only people in the town are the ones who worked there previously. Now Willa is trapped in Crystal Springs and can’t get out to help Edison save Chicago.
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.
No More Excuses: Dismantling Rape Culture by Amber J. Keyser
Twenty-First Century Books
Publication Date: January 1st 2019
Starting with an eye-opening account of the Steubenville high school rape case (in 2012), No More Excuses exposes the deep-seated problem of sexual assault and rape culture. With examples of current events, readers are given clear, concise, and easily understood explanations of the misogynistic problems discussed and given concrete ways to fight the problem.
People Like Us by Dana Mele G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers Publication Date: February 27, 2018 ISBN: 978-1524741709
After boarding school student Kay Donovan and her friends discover a body floating in the water, she receives an email to participate in a revenge website to take down her friends. Intrigued, Kay visits the site only to find it is password protected. Unable to crack the code, Kay enlists in the help of Nola, a girl she once was mean to. Once in the site, the two discover that each task is given a certain amount of time to complete. If not completed in time, Kay’s secrets will be exposed. Despite backlash, Kay will do what it takes to hide the truth.
Leah on the Offbeat by Becky Albertalli HarperCollins / Balzer + Bray Publication Date: April 24, 2018 ISBN: 978-0062643800
It’s three months before prom and Leah’s squad is in shambles.
Leah has the greatest friends in the universe…so why hasn’t she come out as bi to anyone yet? Especially Simon, her BFF, came out to her to her last year before anyone else in the squad. Maybe it’s because she is starting get to feelings, REAL feelings, for someone in her group circle and that someone is dating her friend. Throw in the spring musical, college acceptances (and rejections), and senior prom, and Leah may just completely lose it.
This round of Amazing Audiobooks nominees are great stories told in unusual formats.
Solo by Kwame Alexander with Mary Rand Hess, narrated by Kwame Alexander and Randy Preston (original music) Audio Published by Zondervan Publication Date: August 1, 2017 ISBN: 9780310761891
Solo tells the story of seventeen year old Blade Morrison. Blade, like his father, is a talented musician; but unlike his father, he’s steadier, sober and less haunted by his mother’s death. Blade has a comfortable yet difficult life. His dad is wealthy, so he never needs to worry about money or how to pay for his future. He has a girlfriend, Chapel, with whom he plans to attend college. Yet Blade is constantly in the public eye, because his father is not only famous, but infamous for the stunts he pulls when he’s under the influence. Blade, who is more self-possessed that most teenage kids with famous substance abusing fathers and self-involved sisters, is learning truths about himself that are throwing his world into a tailspin. Continue reading #AA2018: Amazing Audiobooks Nominees, Volume 7