We Need Diverse Books Award Winners

We Need Diverse Books has announced the winners of the 2020 Walter Dean Myers Award. These are the fifth annual awards given to diverse authors whose work “”diverse main characters and address diversity in a meaningful way.” Here are the winners and the honor books:


Laura Dean Keeps Breaking Up with Me

Laura Dean Keeps Breaking Up with Me by Mariko Tamaki, illustrated by Rosemary Valero-O’Connell




Pet by Akwaeke Emezi

With the Fire on High

With the Fire on High by Elizabeth Acevedo



The Bridge Home

The Bridge Home by Padma Venkatraman



A Good Kind of Trouble

A Good Kind of Trouble by Lisa Moore Ramee

Other Words for Home

Other Words for Home by Jasmine Warga

Happy Holidays!


My blog will go quiet as I take time to read some books and spend time with loved ones this holiday season. May your holidays, whatever you celebrate, be filled with great reads and love.

See you in the New Year!

Booklist’s Top of the List Picks for 2019

Booklist has announced their Top of the List, a list that features one single top pick for seven categories. Four of those categories are for books for youth! Here are those winning titles:


Monstrous: The Lore, Gore, and Science Behind Your Favorite Monsters

Monstrous: The Lore, Gore, and Science behind Your Favorite Monsters by Carlyn Beccia



This Was Our Pact

This Was Our Pact by Ryan Andrews



Home in the Woods

Home in the Woods by Eliza Wheeler




Shout by Laurie Halse Anderson


You can also check out their video:

Publisher’s Weekly Best Middle Grade Books of 2019

Publisher’s Weekly has released their picks for the best books of the year. They do three lists for books for children and teens. Here are the middle grade books that made the list:

All the Greys on Greene Street Dream Within a Dream

All the Greys on Greene Street by Laura Tucker, illustrated by Kelly Murphy

Dream Within a Dream by Patricia MacLachlan

The Line Tender Look Both Ways

The Line Tender by Kate Allen

Look Both Ways by Jason Reynolds

The Lost Girl My Jasper June

The Lost Girl by Anne Ursu

My Jasper June by Laurel Snyder

New Kid The Next Great Paulie Fink

New Kid by Jerry Craft

The Next Great Paulie Fink by Ali Benjamin

Other Words for Home Pay Attention, Carter Jones

Other Words for Home by Jasmine Warga

Pay Attention, Carter Jones by Gary D. Schmidt

Queen of the Sea Sal and Gabi Break the Universe (Sal and Gabi, #1)

Queen of the Sea by Dylan Meconis

Sal & Gabi Break the Universe by Carlos Hernandez

The Strangers (Greystone Secrets, #1) This Was Our Pact

The Strangers by Margaret Peterson Haddix

This Was Our Pact by Ryan Andrews

Tristan Strong Punches a Hole in the Sky (Tristan Strong #1)

Tristan Strong Punches a Hole in the Sky by Kwame Mbalia


Review: Finding Grandma’s Memories by Jiyeon Pak

Finding Grandma's Memories by Jiyeon Pak

Finding Grandma’s Memories by Jiyeon Pak (9780525581086)

Told from the point of view of the young granddaughter, this picture book explores the issue of having a loved one who is experiencing memory loss. The little girl loves having tea with her grandmother. She gets to pick a teacup from her grandma’s “treasure shelf” and then they share berry tea and cupcakes together as they tell one another about their day. But Grandma is starting to get confused. She has called the little girl by the wrong name, put her teacups on the bookshelf, and forgot to turn off the water. The next time the little girl visited, she and her grandmother looked at old photographs together. Then she had an idea to label things to help her grandmother remember too. Now she is also ready to share their stories with her grandmother if she has problems remembering.

Pak clearly shows the two generation connecting in this story of family love. The story transforms from the grandmother taking such good care of her granddaughter into needing more help to keep things straight. Nicely, there is no sense of panic in this book, just a steady sense of change and need for care. The use of small helpful ideas to implement also returns some ability to help to the young child in the story. The illustrations are bright and friendly, filled with smiles and connections to one another even as things grow more difficult.

An empowering story for young children about memory loss and helping a loved one. Appropriate for ages 3-5.

Reviewed from e-galley provided by Alfred A. Knopf. 

A Twitter Break


I’ll be taking a hiatus from Twitter, which is the last social media platform I actively use since I stopped using Facebook for personal things over six months ago. The Man Blueprint has a great article that nicely summarizes why I’m taking a break. A few months ago I really pruned back on the people I followed on Twitter, trying to get out of the political cesspool I had been swimming in there. It didn’t help, I still get news that made me livid over and over again as if playing on repeat.

So it’s time for a break. Next week I’ll do a new version of what used to be “what I shared on Twitter this week” and I’ll hopefully have found new ways to keep up with children’s lit news. Let me know if you have any tips for me!

Also, are you changing your usage of social media? I’d love to hear your experiences too.

P.S. – I’m also no longer having Waking Brain Cells post directly to Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn when I post something, so feel free to subscribe via email or check in personally to find out what I’m up to in my little blogging world.



I will be on vacation this week, so there won’t be any book reviews or other posts. Enjoy the last days of August! I’ll be back next week hopefully with some more books finished.

Waking Brain Cells Anniversary


Waking Brain Cells turns 16 years old this week! I am so grateful to have been part of the children’s lit blogging community from the beginning. The changes I have been able to be part of over the years are inspiring and important. The face of children’s and teen lit is becoming more diverse, both in terms of creators and bloggers. I am happy to feature many diverse authors and creators on my blog, doing my small part.

Thank you for reading, for following, for listening. I value all of you and feel so much gratitude for being able to do this year after year.

His Dark Materials Trailer

A breathtaking trailer for the new HBO series coming this fall: