The American Booksellers Association has announced the Independent Booksellers’ Debut Picks of the Season, also called Indies Introduce. These picks cover both summer and fall for this year and are selected as the best of the season. The lists include adult fiction and nonfiction, middle grade and young adult. Below are the middle grade and young adult picks:
Here are some great books that speak to the importance of the Black Lives Matter movement, the righteous anger we are seeing on the streets, America’s long history of racism, and voices that have always been worth investing in and listening to:
Claire and Dani could not be more different from one another. Claire comes from Chinese wealth in Shanghai. When her father decides that she should go to school in the United States, she is quickly moved to California and into Dani’s house. Dani lives there with just her mother. She attends the same school as Claire, but as a scholarship student. Dani loves to debate and enjoys the attention her debate coach shows her. As the two girls navigate high school in parallel but separate social spheres, they both encounter sexual harassment and assault. Both of them shut down, lose sight of themselves, and tell almost no one what has happened. But as they get angry and refuse to be silenced, the two discover that they may just be the person the other one has needed to be their champion.
Yang tells the story of Chinese parachute students who come to the United States for high school. Their experience is fascinating and unique. Sent to a foreign country alone as a teenager, often from very wealthy families, these teens must learn in a new language and figure out a different society. There is so much to envy here, from the clothing to the handbags to the cars. The expectations for someone like Claire are huge, the pressure form her family immense, and the situations very adult.
Against that wealth and shimmer, Dani’s story is set. She is Filipino, she and her mother work as cleaners in the large homes. She goes to school with wealthy kids, but is known as a scholarship student. She is bright and ferocious, defending her friends along the way. Yet when her teacher sexually harasses her, Dani loses her voice and must regain her passion and anger to find a way forward.
The pairing of these two different girls is phenomenal, their journeys linked but separate in many ways. Powerful, wrenching and insistent, this novel is a rallying cry. Appropriate for ages 14-18.
Reviewed from e-galley provided by Katherine Tegen Books.
Oil by Jonah Winter, illustrated by Jeanette Winter (9781534430778)
This nonfiction picture book offer a devastating look at the oil spill caused by the Exxon Valdez. The book begins with the Trans-Alaska Pipeway that carries oil to the ocean. It’s surrounded by wilderness and the animals who live there. The oil is then transferred to ships, and one of the those ships had an accident in the clear water when it ran aground on a reef. From there, the oil spreads, turning the water and waves black, covering the rocks on the shore. Hurting the wildlife who call the place home. People try to help, but even thirty years later so many things are different, changes caused by the destruction of an ecosystem and environment.
The Winter mother-son duo have crafted yet another compelling picture book about a complex nonfiction topic. Jonah’s text uses powerful repeating choruses of “oil” that is almost like a drum beat of emphasis. He uses other techniques of repetition and design that speed or slow the reading of the text very effectively. The book is a mixture of tragedy and a call to action.
Jeanette’s illustrations are in her signature simple style. They work particularly well here to emphasize the impact of the oil spill, steadily covering the pages with seeping blackness. Some pages are left without words, just allowing the reader to soak in the horror of what is happening.
Powerful and tragic, this picture book is an important addition for libraries. Appropriate for ages 5-8.
The finalists for the 2020 Locus Awards have been announced. The awards are given for the best science fiction and fantasy of the year in a wide variety of categories that include books, magazines, artists, editors and publishers. They have one category specifically for the best YA novel. Here are the finalists in that category:
Vanity Fair has the news of the winners of the 2020 Lambda Literary Awards. The awards are given in a wide variety of categories, one of which is specifically for children’s and YA books. You can see all of the finalists in my previous post about the award. Here are the winners in the youth category: