Originally published in: 2018
What it’s about: The struggle to accept yourself and your life when you don’t quite fit in as a kid.
What made me pick it up: I love everything Woodson writes and was excited to see this book announced.
My favorite parts: The illustrations are lovely and really add another layer of emotional depth to the story. I was not expecting the emotional gut punch this book has about not fitting in and all the self doubt that can bring up as a young person. If your lunch, clothes, or abilities are different, or your adventures are smaller, or you have no “good” stories school can be a really uncomfortable place to be. Learning to be confident with who you are and find kindred spirits who reflect that back to you is such a gift and this book is an excellent reminder that it is possible, even if it’s hard.
Who it’s great for: Unique young ones who may doubt themselves. Anyone who remembers wondering if they were enough as a child, and hopefully found out they were.
Originally published in: 2017
What it’s about: A boy who wants to be friends with a girl in his class but is too nervous to talk to her. And his friend, who is a psychic. And the class bully.
What made me pick it up: It beat Long Way Down for the Newbery and WHAT KIND OF BOOK CAN DO THAT? I had to find out.
My favorite parts: This book has four main characters and they are all wonderfully fleshed out. The bully is a cringingly accurate portrayal of fragile mscunlinity and bravado/posturing. The other three are excellent weirdos in their own way learning how to be brave enough to reach out to others in the morass that is middle school. OMG I love this book so much. I love the strength it takes for these characters to step outside their comfort zones and how they are such individuals. Middle school to me felt like the time to blend in and try to be as homogenous as possible. But not for these kids. They have special circumstances that make them unique and it’s wonderful. And I love the tiny fragment of hope the book ends on. You will want to know how the story continues after this heartwarming adventure.
Who it’s great for: Upper elementary and new middle school readers.
Find this book in your local library or on Amazon (affiliate link).
Originally published in: 2016
What it’s about: What happens lives and drama of suburban teens accidentally collide with the world of superheroes and the larger battle between good and evil?
What made me pick it up: I make sure to scoop of anything I see by Jeff Lemire, and this one is new to our library.
My favorite things: Lemire has a gift for creating believable teens and he does it with such care and understanding that it’s nearly impossible to hold their faults against them. I love the peek we get into Plutona’s life- a single mom and superhero struggling to find a sustainable work-life balance.
Who it’s great for: Fans of all things superhero. Readers who loved Paper Girls. Older teens who want both realistic fiction and superheroes in action.
Want a copy? Find one at Amazon (affiliate link) or see if it’s available at a library near you.
Originally published in: 2016
What it’s about: A little boy named after his father wants his own name.
What made me pick it up: I’m a huge fan of Alexie. He’s an excellent writer. Once I saw he had written a children’s book I had to check it out.
My favorite things: This book has such an engaging rhythm. It almost felt like reading a dance, if that makes sense. It also has vivid illustrations, which enhance that effect. And you really feel for the boy who loves his father but wants to be his own person.
Who it’s great for: Boys named after their fathers. Independence seeking children. Alexie admirers. People looking for diverse books for younger readers.