Quick Picks for Reluctant Readers (#QP2025) Feature Review: Chinese Menu: The History, Myths, and Legends Behind Your Favorite Foods by Grace Lin

  • Chinese Menu: The History, Myths, and Legends Behind Your Favorite Foods
  • by Grace Lin
  • Little, Brown and Company
  • Publication Date: September 12, 2023
  • ISBN: 9798885856409

Grace Lin introduces a wide variety of Chinese-American food and the myths and history behind them.

This is an excellent read for the reader interested in mythology, but who doesn’t have the time or attention span for an entire novel. The full-page illustrations introducing each dish/ story are bright and colorful and attract attention, but don’t feel too young. The book’s thickness and layout make it appealing for an older audience, as well as the 8-12 age range in which it was published. In addition, the subject matter makes it compelling for a wide range of readers. Because of the uniqueness of the content, this is perfect for a multigenerational reading transaction, and it won’t out remedial teen readers. 


Readers who enjoyed Hidden Systems by Dan Nott (2023), The Mona Lisa Vanishes by Nicholas Day and Brett Helquist (2023), Houses with a Story by Yoshida Seiji (2023), and Midwinterblood by Marcus Sedgwick (2013), will enjoy Chinese Menu

Josie Snow

You’re Not Alone: Mental Health Nonfiction Picks for Teens

As mental health struggles get more time in the spotlight, mental health nonfiction books have been cropping up aimed a variety of demographics. In fact, many options are now available just for teens. This list looks at great resources for those who are struggling with mental health issues or want to help someone that is.

Now, I want to be clear in saying that I was very conscious of readability when pulling these titles. A good book in this area is useless if the writing is akin to banging your head against a wall. It is more important for these books to be engaging than even a standard Y.A. fiction offering that you recommend.

Also, while these selections mostly cater to teens, the high readability makes them good for anyone interested in improving mental health without being insanely bored. Without further ado, let’s get ready to be mentally healthy!

Continue reading You’re Not Alone: Mental Health Nonfiction Picks for Teens

Booklist: New LGBTQIAP+ Nonfiction for Pride Month

June is LGBTQ Pride Month: a time celebrate and recognize the impact that LGBTQ people have in the world. June was chosen for Pride Month as a way to commemorate the 1969 Stonewall riots that have been seen as the landmark event that propelled the movement for LGBTQ civil rights.

Continue reading Booklist: New LGBTQIAP+ Nonfiction for Pride Month

Rescue Me: a Media List for Teen Dog Lovers

  A couple of years ago, I decided to put my lifelong obsession with dogs to good use and became a volunteer at my local animal shelter. I swore up and down that I wouldn’t adopt a dog, for a variety of logical reasons, and I actually held out for about a year. Then, to NO ONE’S surprise but mine, I fell in love with, and adopted, my dog Pippa.

Continue reading Rescue Me: a Media List for Teen Dog Lovers

#AA2018: Amazing Audiobooks Nominees, Volume 4

This round of Amazing Audiobooks nominees feature historical fiction and true tales of teens making history.

The Pearl Thief

The Pearl Thief by Elizabeth Wein, narrated by Maggie Service
Audio published by Brilliance Audiobook
Publication Date: 7/15/17

ISBN: 978-1484717165

Elizabeth Wein’s latest novel is another humdinger of a historical yarn. This little ditty is just drenched in dulcet dialogue and populated by an irresistible array of memorable characters. Featuring a feisty and charmingly spunky female protagonist with a certain derring-do that takes her to the heart of an engrossing murder mystery. Teenage Julie Beaufort-Stuart returns to her ancestral Scottish home for the summer and is quickly steeped in a conundrum involving pilfered pearls, country travelers, and one boggy corpse.

The Pearl Thief is a well-crafted coming-of-age tale that rings authentic and well-researched. It should appeal to young audiences for its vim, variety of characters, and velocity of narrative. It’s equal parts Harriet the Spy, Sherlock Holmes, and Scooby-Doo. Julie carries the plot effortlessly with her verve and sense of adventure but the accompanying characters also bring much to the story. Julie befriends two traveler siblings and together they tackle the case of the missing heirloom pearls that resulted in a dead body on the family estate. It’s very almost nearly a Nancy Drew Mystery Story. Continue reading #AA2018: Amazing Audiobooks Nominees, Volume 4

Booklist: Activism Starts With You: Nonfiction Books to Inspire and Instruct

It’s been a wild and sometimes scary ride lately with the political climate changing in the wake of the United States Presidential election last November and, unfortunately, racism and hatred spreading wildly. It’s hard to know where to start when you can’t vote and may not be old enough to work. The best first step: Getting information. These books can help teens do just that as you get informed and inspired.

cover art collage for Booklist: Activism Starts With You: Nonfiction Books to Inspire and Instruct

  • Strike! The Farm Workers’ Fight for Their Rights by Larry Dane Brimner: A carefully researched account of the 1965 strike and the ones that followed as migrant Filipino American workers fought to negotiate a better way and set off one of the longest and most successful strikes in American history.

 

  • Yes You Can! Your Guide to Becoming An Activist by Jane Drake and Ann Love: This book includes accounts of the founding of organizations like Amnesty International and Greenpeace along with practical steps for social change including how to run meetings, write petitions, and lobby the government.

Continue reading Booklist: Activism Starts With You: Nonfiction Books to Inspire and Instruct

#QP2018: 5 World War II Tales

There are teens who want to read about the here and now, and then there are teens who love to know what it was like to live in the past. World War II has been a rich and rewarding theme for fiction and non-fiction for teens – modern classics like The Book Thief and The Boy in the Striped Pajamas pique their interest and enhance their understanding of the world at that time.

These five books, three fiction and two non-fiction, offer events and perspectives that are unique but carry a common thread – resistance to the Nazi regime. All are based on actual events, and each one reminds the reader that the human spirit will always prevail.


Max by Sarah Cohen-Scali
Max by Sarah Cohen-Scali, translated by Penny Hueston
Roaring Brook Press/A Neal Porter Book
March 7, 2017
978-1626720718

 In Nazi Germany, Max is created as a designer baby to increase the Aryan population, and is even born on Hitler’s birthday. In this appalling glimpse into the Third Reich’s Lebensborn program, Max “Konrad” tells the haunting story of what it meant to be a gift to the Fuhrer, and how he helped the Brown Sisters kidnap Polish children who fit the Aryan ideal.  Trained to become a fighter in the Hitler Youth, he is raised by the medical arm of the Nazi regime to hate Jews, homosexuals, and anyone perceived as weak. The chink in Konrad’s armor is Lukas, a Polish teen who has been selected in the raids as the perfect Aryan specimen. His internal conflict is heightened when he discovers that Lukas, who has taken on the role of Konrad’s older brother, is Jewish.

The stark red cover portraying a fetus wearing a Nazi armband definitely grabs attention. Max is told from the unusual perspective of one who is seasoned beyond his years, while still quite childlike. Narration begins in utero and grows along with Konrad.  The plot-driven, compelling text depicts an irreverent view of one of the most disturbing time periods in history.  Blunt, gritty language is bound to appeal to readers due to shock value.  Though Konrad is certainly flawed and twisted from his upbringing, he possesses a naiveté that will make readers alternately dislike him intensely and pity him. Although the pacing is inconsistent, the suspense and menacing plot is enough to keep readers engaged.  The Author’s Note at the end is jarring, as readers discover that Max is inspired by actual events, and that the Lebensborn program did, in fact, exist. Continue reading #QP2018: 5 World War II Tales

#QP2018 Nominees: Find Your Style and Botanical Beauty

It’s no secret that many teens find a creative outlet and personal expression through style. Beauty vlogging has become a huge trend on Youtube and most teens I know are aware of at least a few famous ones. Common Sense Media has even created a list of popular beauty vloggers for interested parents. And it’s not just women, there are also quite a few famous male beauty vloggers. This interest in style and grooming can extend to making their own beauty products as well. Quite a few teens have even created successful businesses selling their creations.

The following are two books that hone in on that eternal interest in personal style and DIY creation.

Find Your Style
Find Your Style: Boost Your Body Image Through Fashion Confidence by Sally McGraw
Twenty-First Century Books
February 1, 2017
978-1467785693

Find Your Style by Sally McGraw introduces reader to fashion concepts and their deeper meanings. Readers will learn basic style skills, like how to put together outfits, shop on a budget, and choose pieces that flatter their figure. Standard fashion topics are presented with a body positive spin. For example, the chapter on “figuring out your figure” includes section headings like “what do you love about your body?” and “dress to feel good.” Includes tips and opinions from actual teens.

This book features a high interest topic (fashion) and presents it in a way that is incredibly relevant for today’s teens. Connections are drawn between what readers see in the media and their beliefs about fashion, beauty, and their own self-worth. And it doesn’t skimp on the practical style advice. The diverse models and inclusion of different body types makes it relatable for a wide range of teens from many backgrounds. The engaging voice and clear, informative text should be appealing to reluctant readers. Overall, a positive and informative book that encourages teens to think critically and cultivate a healthy self-image. Great for fans of Teen Vogue and Project Runway. Continue reading #QP2018 Nominees: Find Your Style and Botanical Beauty

Monthly Monday Poll: Favorite Dual-Market *Nonfiction* Author

Monday Poll @ YALSA's The HubIt’s time for the monthly poll!

Last month, a reader (and YALSA Excellence in Nonfiction Honor writer!) pointed out that while I said the poll was asking about “authors,” based on the options provided, what it was really asking about was fiction authors. So true! My *personal* reading habits are heavily biased towards fiction, and it’s showing in the poll! So this month, I’m taking up the excellent suggestion to run a poll featuring nonfiction authors who write for multiple audiences. I’m sure I’ve missed some good ones; please shout them out in the comments! Continue reading Monthly Monday Poll: Favorite Dual-Market *Nonfiction* Author

2017 Nonfiction Award Finalist: An Interview with Linda Barrett Osborne on This Land Is Our Land

In the introduction to This Land is Our Land, Linda Barrett Osborne writes how she hopes her book acts as a conversation starter for such an important part of American history. Not only does she successfully cover the vast topic of immigration in this finalist for YALSA’s 2017 Nonfiction Award, but after reading This Land is Our Land, I was certainly eager for our conversation.

How do you think the topic of immigration can be addressed for different age groups?

Almost any age group can start with finding out their own family backgrounds. Then students can share their histories with their classmates and see how many places people come from in a class. From middle school on, students can talk about what they hear in the media. Do they think the stories/treatments of immigrants are fair? On the other hand, is it a problem to accommodate many new immigrants each year? After discussing how Americans have always been ambivalent about new immigrants, see if they are surprised that our doubts and objections stretch back to the beginnings of settlement in America. How would they wish their families had been treated? How would they like some or all first generation immigrants to be treated? Continue reading 2017 Nonfiction Award Finalist: An Interview with Linda Barrett Osborne on This Land Is Our Land