Best Fiction for Young Adults (#BFYA2024) Featured Review: Mascot by Charles Waters and Traci Sorell

  • Mascot
  • by Charles Waters and Traci Sorell
  • Publisher: Charlesbridge
  • Release date: Sept 5, 2023
  • ISBN: 9781623543808

As part of their 8th grade Honors English class, students are asked to consider whether their mascot, an “Indian Brave”, is appropriate and whether it should be changed.  Their assignment: write a research paper and be prepared to debate the topic as partners in class.

Told from the perspectives of the students in the class, their teacher, and community stakeholders, this provides a nuanced discussion of a timely and controversial topic written by #ownvoices authors. Engaging writing with ample white space allows the plot to flow well.  Student voices and perspectives are distinct and realistic, but the language used makes it accessible to teens on the younger end of the age range.
Students who are athletes or are passionate fans, as well as those readers who want to better understand diverse perspectives will connect with this books. Hand this title to young social justice advocates who liked Miles Morales: Suspended by Jason Reynolds or those who want to think deeply about identity and liked Rain Rising by Courtne Comrie.

-Melissa Palmer

Other Nominated Titles

Release Date: February 21, 2023
Release Date: May 23, 2023
Release Date: September 12, 2023

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 title suggestion form), it must pass through a review process to be designated an official nomination.

Each week, the teams feature a review of one of the officially nominated titles. Additional titles to receive this designation are listed as well. At year’s end, the team will curate a final list from all nominated titles and select a Top Ten.

The Best Fiction for Young Adults Committee appreciates teen feedback as members evaluate the nominated titles. Teen librarians are encouraged to share the List of Potential Nominees under consideration with their patrons and solicit feedback using the link: https://bit.ly/BFYA24TeenFB

Amazing Audiobooks (#AA2024) Featured Review: Miles Morales: Suspended by Jason Reynolds

  • Miles Morales Suspended: A Spider-Man Novel
  • by Jason Reynolds
  • Narrated by Guy Lockard and Nile Bullock
  • Simon and Schuster Audio
  • Publication Date: May 2, 2023
  • ISBN: 9781797145600

Miles must serve a day of in-school suspension as a result of the events in the previous book, where he took down The Wardens and pushed back against his racist history teacher. It seems that his spidey sense is on the fritz again, but Miles is having trouble dodging his detention teacher and figuring out what is happening. Using his powers and sleuthing, Miles determines that super termites have begun attacking the school, specifically the history books with black and brown histories. While these evil termites must be stopped, Miles is going to need to find a way to do that without extending his suspension.

Yet again, Jason Reynolds’s mastery elevates this superhero storyline and plays with the setting by reducing the timeline of events to one day. Narrators Lockard and Bullock expertly match Reynolds’s prowess by providing a layered audio reading of this story. The audible “bzzzs” and “whams” add to the superhero world and Miles’s voice shows how this story matters even beyond the Spiderverse. Even if bugs make you squeamish, this audiobook has so much more to offer. Both fans of superhero comics and Jason Reynolds’s other works will find something awesome in this title.

-Sarah Carpenter

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 title suggestion form), it must pass through a review process to be designated an official nomination.

Each week, the teams feature a review of one of the officially nominated titles. Additional titles to receive this designation are listed as well. At year’s end, the team will curate a final list from all nominated titles and select a Top Ten.

Great Graphic Novels (#GGN2024) Featured Review: The Moth Keeper by K. O’Neill

  • The Moth Keeper
  • by K. O’Neill
  • Publisher: Random House Graphic
  • Publication Date: March 7, 2023
  • ISBN-13: 9780593182260

In The Moth Keeper Anya becomes an apprentice to the Moth Keeper for her nocturnal village. Generations ago, the Moon-Spirit gifted her village with the Moon-Moths that pollinate the Night-Flower which grants them blessings that allow the villagers to thrive. The Moth Keeper’s duty is to watch over the Moon-Moths each night in solitude and guide and protect them. As Anya struggles with the isolation during the cold nights and fulfilling her duty, she grows curious about the sun and what daytime is like. Will Anya be able to keep her vow to protect the Moon-Moths and her village?

The Moth Keeper is a magical coming of age story that beautifully illustrates the pressure of living up to expectations and struggling to carry a burden on your own as well as learning to rely on others. The themes of finding yourself and discovering a sense of belonging within a community is something that many can relate to. The art has an ethereal quality that matches the tone of the story and world building. The color palette includes a wide variety of purples and oranges that express the contrast of the desert setting during the night and daytime beautifully.

The Moth Keeper will appeal to fans of magic and fantasy as well as heartfelt coming-of-age stories. Fans of Hayao Miyazaki’s works such as Spirited Away and My Neighbor Totoro will appreciate the whimsical art style and world building of The Moth Keeper. Video game players who enjoy games such as Kena: Bridge of Spirits, Ori and the Blind Forest, and Celeste will enjoy Anya’s journey of self-discovery and growth as well as the beautiful illustrations of nature. Readers who enjoy witchy stories such as Mooncakes by Suzanne Walker and Tidesong by Wendy Xu will likely enjoy The Moth Keeper as well.

—Kaleigh Oldham

Other Nominated Titles

Release Date: September 6, 2022
Release Date: October 25, 2022
Release Date: November 8, 2022
Release Date: February 7, 2023

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 title suggestion form), it must pass through a review process to be designated an official nomination.

Each week, the teams feature a review of one of the officially nominated titles. Additional titles to receive this designation are listed as well. At year’s end, the team will curate a final list from all nominated titles and select a Top Ten.

2016 Middle Grade Titles with Teen Appeal

It can be easy to for me to forget that teens are some of the most dexterous readers out there. They can jump from reading adult novels one day, back to a young adult novel the next, and then have no qualms about picking up a book that we consider middle grade after that. I often feel that I need to be pushing older teens to move onward from young adult titles to adult titles, assuming that is what they are “growing into,” but will be surprised when one says how they have just read Sara Pennypacker’s Pax and loved it. Some teens stay loyal to the authors that meant so much to them in the grade school years, authors like Christopher Paul Curtis and Kate DiCamillo, and others will continue to read anything by Rick Riordan, no matter how old they get. Teens can still have an interest in titles that we assume they would feel are “babyish,” but for them can be a break from angst or romance, and to them are just a great story.

We have some great resources when we are looking for adult books for teen appeal. We have YALSA’s Alex Award and their annual vetted list of books and School Library Journal’s column Adult Books for Teens, but we rarely see resources out there for younger books that might have a place in a teen’s reading pile. Here is a list of recent titles, titles that can be both successful with both a 5th-grader and an 11-grader.

middle-grade-re

Realistic Fiction

Ghost by Jason Reynolds

This story starts and ends with a gunshot. Ever since the night his father shot a gun at him and his mother, Castle Cranshaw left running and hasn’t stopped since. Now in seventh-grade, he’s nicknamed himself Ghost after coming upon a track tryout, and without officially entering, taking on one of the most elite runners and winning. Now he is being courted by the coach to join the track team, and learns that you don’t always have to run away from things, but can run towards things too. Track is one of those sports that many kids and teens participate in, but it is rarely the subject of novels. Fans of Friday Night Lights with love this coach in this as much as they do Coach Taylor. This is a character-driven and plot-driven novel with many appeals, but teens that especially love a Gatsby-esque novel laden with imagery and themes will find so much to pore over in this short, but rich, novel.

The Best Man by Richard Peck

This story starts and ends with a wedding. One that is a complete train-wreck, and one that couldn’t be more perfect. This coming-of-age novel is full of snarky humor and hilarious episodes that allow you to see the world of adults through a younger generation’s eyes. Unlike Tom Sawyer and Holden Caulfield, Archer Magill is clueless to the world around him, and his best friend Lynette is always having to explain life’s nuances. Teen’s who have appreciated David Sedaris’ childhood memoir essays will feel at home in how family can be hilarious and still be the best parts of our world.

Booked by Kwame Alexander

Soccer is the backdrop to this coming-of-age novel. Nick Hall, whose father makes him study the dictionary and turn in homework to him, would love to escape the world of words and books. Nick thinks he has the world all-figured out. He lives for soccer, and both he and his best-friend are getting to play in the Dallas Dr. Pepper Open, but on different teams. Just as things seem to be going his way, especially with his crush paying a little of attention to him, bombs start to drop–his mother announces she is leaving to follow her dream of training race horses, but in a different state, and he get appendicitis right before the big tournament. Teens will appreciate how messy life can be, and appreciate those little moments when you realize that you’ve gotten it all wrong.

Lily and Dunkin by Donna Gephart

At the start of their eighth grade year both Lily and Dunkin are trying to establish new identities for themselves. Everyone sees Lily as Timothy, but she is ready for the real her to be known, only her father isn’t ready for the the transition. Dunkin, has just moved to Lily’s Florida town to live with his Grandmother, and would love to leave his old name “Norbert”and some painful secrets in the past. This middle grade novel has strong characterization of two young teens navigating their identities. Older teens will identify with the work it takes to let others see the real you, and the hope they will accept you for who you truly are.

middle-grade-fantasy

Fantasy

Pax by Sara Pennypacker

When Peter’s father is heading off to war, he is forced to abandon his pet fox in the woods. Unable to handle the separation, Peter runs away to find his beloved pet, Pax. Told through alternating perspective between Peter and Pax, this book is a sensitive look at grief, man’s relationship with animals, and the marks of war.

When the Sea Turned Silver by Grace Lin

The magic of story will transport readers into a new time and place filled with adventure. Pinmei has to find the Luminous Stone to rescue her grandmother who has been kidnapped by the emperor. Teens that love books of fairytales retold, with love that feeling as Lin weaves new stories that have that classic feeling.

Furthermore by Tahereh Mafi

Young Alice lives in a world that values both magic and color, and she unfortunately seems to be lacking both. She hasn’t seem to exhibit any magical powers similar to those in her community, and she was born with no color in her skin or hair. After her father has been missing for several years, she hears that he might be in the mythical, dangerous land of Furthermore, and she sets out to find him. Teens will be drawn to this Whimsical, gothic fairy tale with a narrator voice similar to Series of Unfortunate Events.

Goblin’s Puzzle; Being the Adventures of A Boy With No Name and Two Girls Called Alice by Andrew S. Chilton

Teen fans of Douglas Adams or Monty Python will love the humorous writing and twists and turns in this adventure. This follows a slave boy with no name as he tries to rescue a princess and a peasant (both named Alice), and discover what his destiny is. He seeks the help of Mennofar, a tiny green goblin, even though he can’t be trusted as everyone knows goblins are sneaky. Continue reading 2016 Middle Grade Titles with Teen Appeal

School Library Journal 2016 Day of Dialog Recap

SLJDOD2016_SLJHeader_900x250Each year, School Library Journal presents a Day of Dialog, which allows librarians, educators, and library students the chance to come together and learn the latest about childrens and teens publishing trends and upcoming releases.  This was the first time I have attended a Day of Dialog and I would definitely recommend future attendance to anyone who works with children and/or teens promoting books and reading. Check out my recap of the middle school/high school panels and speakers from the day! Continue reading School Library Journal 2016 Day of Dialog Recap

Comics for Tweens

Does the tween in your life or your library love comics? Here are a few that need to be on your radar and will make your kids go absolutely nuts.

Awkward

Peppi Torres is just trying to survive her first days middle school. Suddenly she finds herself being both the teased and the teaser, and in the middle of a club war! Can she figure out how to make middle school bearable for both herself and those around her? Continue reading Comics for Tweens

The New Spinoff

SisterhoodEverlastingThe announcement of Netflix’s John Stamos-produced “Fuller House,” a spinoff or sequel series to the 1980s/1990s classic family sitcom, is one of many similar such announcements in the TV world these days. “The X-Files” will be back for a few weeks next January, and there are rumors of a second/fifth season of “Arrested Development” arriving to Netflix sometime soon. And let’s not forget the long-awaited “Veronica Mars” movie last year, which was entirely made up of winks and nudges to the series’ patient fans.

The literary world is following suit. In 2011, Francine Pascal dusted off her pen and caught us all up on the happenings in Sweet Valley, California, with a look at the famous blonde twins Jessica and Elizabeth Wakefield ten years after graduation. Published under an adult imprint, Sweet Valley Confidential was a nostalgic gift to the 20-, 30-, and even 40-something original fans of the series. Ann Brashares gifted her now-adult Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants (2002 Best Books for Young Adults, 2009 Popular Paperbacks) readers with Sisterhood Everlasting in 2011 as well. And Meg Cabot will be following suit with a completion of her Princess Diaries (2001 Best Books for Young Adults, 2001 Quick Picks) series for adults, titled Royal Wedding.

But if all of these are gifts for former teens, what about current and future ones? Brashares presented 3 Willows: The Sisterhood Grows, about a younger generation of friends facing a summer separation, but it didn’t quite catch on. Is it possible to reignite a successful YA series with a younger version? Does it even make sense to think that a beloved teen character would interest a younger reader who doesn’t know the inside jokes? Or is it better to go adult? Should you just take minor characters and make them major? Does any of it work? Continue reading The New Spinoff