To cope with the stresses of middle school and the complications of life, Theo Goodwin escapes into his drawings where he can become Theo-Dare.  As his comic book alter ego, he conquers demons with his superpowers and the help of his sidekick, Super G. Super G is Georgia Rosenbloom, another sixth grader whose biggest passion, aside from art, is astronomy. She and Theo have been inseparable friends since forever, and their mothers are colleagues at Columbia University. When Georgia’s dad—the renowned and accomplished artist Hank Rosenbloom—dies suddenly, the loss throws Georgia out of her orbit. Unlike others who see the value of his art andRead More →

Fifteen Reasons to Love the Novel, Love in English It’s dedicated to “everyone who has ever strained to find the [right] words” to accurately express their thoughts and feelings. Maria E. Andreu writes with authenticity from the immigrant experience and perspective, but she also writes to those of us who feel “foreign” or who sense a feeling of other—“some nameless thing [we] can feel but not fix” (13). Many of the chapters close with idiomatically clever poems as the protagonist, Ana, plays with language. These not only capture her confusion but convey her learning. The novel is peppered with Spanish, as well as hashtags (####)Read More →

Inspired by West African folklore, Roseanne A. Brown writes an action-packed tale infused with magical twists, family secrets, and cultural diversity.  Her debut YA novel, A Song of Wraiths and Ruin features Karina Alahari and Malik Hilali—two protagonists on a trajectory to self-discovery and potential destruction. Running and unraveling riddles are what Malik does best, although he is also prone to panic attacks, dreaming, and wandering alone.  Having been beaten as a child for discussing his hallucinations, creating illusions, and communicating with supernatural beings called the grim folk, Malik’s powers have taken more from him than they have given. Karina, on the other hand, isRead More →

Angie Thomas’ prequel to The Hate U Give is a good read.  Concrete Rose, which tells the story of Maverick Carter, is no fairy tale. However, it is deeply moving.  It reveals a young man who is full of potential despite the harsh world around him. Even though Garden Heights, the neighborhood in which Maverick grows up, is inundated by gangs, drugs, violence, and poverty—his mother, Faye, does her best to give her son a positive upbringing. Still, he confronts death, the challenges of teenage parenting, and multiple temptations head on. Thomas doesn’t sugarcoat the difficulties that Maverick faces, and the reader gets to experienceRead More →

Author Christine Day claims to have written The Sea of Winter for young people who struggle with loneliness, a separation from friends, and uncertainty about the future. It is also for those learning to live with and recover from trauma. However, it’s not just a story for those who despair but for readers who can relate to athletes whose dreams are altered by injury. It’s for readers of Cynthia Leitich Smith, James Welch, and Jennifer Longo or for anyone struggling to find joy again and needing a reminder that pain is temporary. Twelve-year-old Maisie Cannon is a Makah/Piscataway girl whose sanctuary is ballet school. SheRead More →

A form of cognitive efficiency, labeling helps people make sense of their worlds. Although labels give our brains the ability to categorize and to draw useful conclusions, they can also limit thinking and lead to stereotypes. With labels like normal, mentally ill, or bipolar, we not only make assumptions about others but about ourselves and our potential abilities. These assumptions can even influence our identities. It is this identity labeling that concerns Journey Smith, the seventeen-year-old protagonist in Faith Gardner’s novel Girl on the Line. Journey doubts the truth about many of the things the world tells her and believes that her brain ruins everything asRead More →

Perhaps the most widely recognized Supreme Court case in American history, Brown v. Board of Education was a nationwide assault on beliefs of white supremacy. But for all its renown, many Americans know little about the case itself or of the great changes in American society that propelled the Supreme Court to rule as it did on May 17, 1954. With his Scholastic published book Separate No More, Lawrence Goldstone enlightens readers about the long road to Brown v. Board of Education. In this nonfiction account, readers will learn the names of many personalities instrumental in proving that separate did not mean, and could notRead More →

In the kingdom of Nothing, every time peace between the volken and the human races seems imminent, something happens to fuel the conflict with fear or lies and then prevent the two factions from achieving peaceful coexistence. What or who is behind this perpetual warring? Targeting middle-grade readers, the graphic novel Fantastic Tales of Nothing by Alejandra Green and Fanny Rodriguez is an adventure featuring an unlikely quartet: Nathan Cadwell, Sina, Bardou, and Haven, who form an unexpected bond. Nathan is a human boy who simply wants a quiet and peaceful life, with maybe a little money to gamble now and then. Sina Crowe is a volken,Read More →

By their own definition, Naomi and Malcolm Smith used to “live in sin” and had their first baby, Jemima Genesis (aka Genny), out of wedlock while in their teens. However, being God-fearing individuals and believers in the notion of God’s mercy in granting second chances, they marry and eventually answer the call to enter the seminary. Now, they serve as co-pastors at Resurrection Baptist Church in Los Angeles, California. Naomi and Malcolm completed their family with two more daughters, naming each one after Job’s girls from the Bible. Of the Smith trinity, Genny went on to become the youngest Black woman to earn her PhDRead More →