Quick Picks for Reluctant Readers (#QP2025) Feature Review: Courage to Dream: Tales of Hope in the Holocaust by Neal Shusterman

This well-designed graphic novel features five stories rooted in Jewish folklore and cultural history and set against the backdrop of the Holocaust. Using the mythology of the Jewish people in a more modern setting, it allows for a new generation to learn about what gave many the strength to survive. Each of the stories works together with vivid graphics, to tell the story of a people relying on their own culture against a stronger opponent determined to destroy them all.

Author Neal Shusterman and illustrator Andrés Vera Martínez have collaborated to create several stories that will engage readers from the first page to the last. Mixing fantasy, reality, and mythology, these stories of survival and sacrifice help show what people need to believe to survive the most horrific events. After each story, the creators include great factual information to help all who read it put names and faces to those who may have lost their lives or survived this horrific event.
Give to readers who enjoyed Impossible Escape: A True Story of Survival and Heroism in Nazi Europe by Steve Sheinkin and Challenger Deep and Game Changer by Neal Shusterman.

Lindsay Bailey – Belfast Area High School

Best Fiction for Young Adults (#BFYA2023) Featured Review of All That’s Left in the World by Erik J. Brown

All That’s Left in the World by Erik J. Brown
Balzer + Bray
Publication Date: March 8, 2022
ISBN: 9780063054974

Andrew and Jamie, both with secrets of their own, lost everyone they cared about after a deadly pathogen killed off much of the population, but they find each other when they need it most and begin a dangerous trek together to search for civilization.

All That’s Left in the World is told from the point of view of Andrew, an expert at telling hilarious sarcastic jokes, and Jamie, a hopeful and kind person who loves Hallmark movies. Andrew is looking for help after he gets his leg stuck in a bear trap when he comes across Jamie’s cabin, and the rest is history.

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Quick Picks for Reluctant Readers (#QP2023) Featured Review of You’ll Be the Death of Me by Karen M. McManus

You’ll Be The Death of Me
by Karen M. McManus
Publisher: Random House Children’s Books
Imprint: Delacorte Press
Release date: November 30, 2021
ISBN: 9780593175866

Ivy, Mateo, and Cal used to be best friends in middle school. Now estranged 11th graders, they come across each other and decide to skip school to relive ‘the best day ever’ from middle school. However, what began as a fun ditch day, quickly turns into real life danger – far beyond the walls of high school – and with real life consequences.

This mystery  begins with the cover itself and the plot is dramatic and includes a gossipy nature.  While the immediate mystery of the day deepens, so does the backstory of family relationships and secrets among these former friends. Chapters are short with alternating voices and the pace stays fast and intensifies as more secrets are uncovered.

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Best Fiction for Young Adults (#BFYA2022) Featured Review of Hunting By Stars by Cherie Dimaline

Hunting by Stars Cover Art

Hunting By Stars: A Marrow Thieves Novel by Cherie Dimaline
ABRAMS/Amulet Books
Publication Date: October 19, 2021
ISBN: 978-1419753473 

In a near future ravaged by climate and disease, some people have stopped dreaming. These people go mad or waste away, so the government has done the unthinkable: Set up residential “schools” where the bone marrow of Indigenous people is harvested for the dreams they still carry. Métis teen Francis “French” Dusome has been on the run for most of his life, ever since the day his brother sacrificed himself so French could get away. French survives in the wilderness with a close knit group whose members–including Rose, Miig, Wab, and Chi-Boy–are from tribal nations all over North America; together, they are family. So when French is captured, there’s no question that he will be looked for. But new threats bring new danger, and the group is forced to separate. Now Rose is desperately searching for French–and running right into the deceptively open arms of a strange new group. Miig is leading the others south–crossing the U.S. border where the line between friends and those pretending to be friends is very thin. And French is imprisoned in a place where so many of his people have gone to die–and about to face terrible choices that will harm those he loves no matter what he decides. Reuniting will require sacrifices, betrayals, and desperate bids for a survival that is anything but assured. 

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Quick Picks for Reluctant Readers (#QP2022) Featured Review of Alone by Megan E. Freeman

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Alone by Megan E. Freeman
Aladdin/Simon & Schuster
Publication Date: January 12, 2021
ISBN: 978-1534467583

Taking advantage of her divorced parents, Maddie convinces her mom she is staying with her dad and vice versa in order to pull off a sleepover at her grandparents’ empty apartment. In the morning, she awakes to find she is alone. The entire town, including her family, have been evacuated and stripped of all forms of communication. Maddie has no other option but to fend for herself, living off what the town left behind. With only George the Rottweiler for companionship, Maddie survives a fire, flood, tornado, and several harsh winters in her quest to stay alive and one day see her family again. 

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Amazing Audiobooks (#AA2022) Nominations Round-Up, Spring

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.


*Prices shown are for Library Digital Download.

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 and the Night Brothers. By B. B. Alston. Read by Imani Parks. Harper Collins/Balzer + Bray, $64.99 (9780063057968).

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.

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Amazing Audiobooks (#AA2022) Featured Review of When You Look Like Us by Pamela N. Harris

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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.  

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Best Fiction for Young Adults (#BFYA2021) Nominees Round Up, March 6 Edition

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Light It Up by Kekla Magoon
Henry Holt and Co. Books for Young Readers / Macmillan
Publication Date: October 22, 2019
ISBN: 978-1250128898

The community of Underhill reacts after an unarmed thirteen-year-old girl is shot and killed by a police officer while walking home. Tensions mount even more upon the arrival of White supremacist demonstrators. The citizens of Underhill prepare  for possible havoc as they protest and await the announcement of the officer’s verdict.

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Quick Picks for Reluctant Readers (#QP2020) Nominees Round Up, August 20 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.

Belly Up Book CoverBelly Up by Eva Darrows
Harlequin Inkyard Press
Publication Date: April 30, 2019
ISBN: 978-1335012357

Serendipity (Sara) spends one drunk post-breakup night with a boy she meets at a party. She can’t find the boy, but does discover soon after that she’s pregnant. As a high-achieving 17 year old, Sara is faced with unexpected and challenging choices, as well as a brand new school and town.  When Sara decides to keep the baby, she has to figure out how to balance her priorities, navigate dating, and finish her senior year, all in maternity jeans.  Continue reading Quick Picks for Reluctant Readers (#QP2020) Nominees Round Up, August 20 Edition

#BFYA2019 Nominees Round Up, November 16 Edition

Dry by Neal and Jarrod Shusterman
Simon and Schuster Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: October 2, 2018
ISBN: 978-1481481960 

What would happen if you turned the handle on your sink and no water came out? How would the world react if there was no more usable water? The people of California are about to find out.

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