Reynolds, J. (2016). As Brave As You. NY: Atheneum Books.
Coretta Scott King Honor for Author 2017
Though Jason Reynolds is known for his young adult books set in gritty, urban settings, As Brave As You is a departure from that template, following two young brothers who leave behind their Brooklyn neighbourhood for the country to spend the summer with grandparents they barely know.
As Brave As You is a slow unfolding of characters with a large focus on relationships. This is the summer Genie, faced with new experiences, does a lot of growing up. His journal of questions is a nice way to read his thoughts and see him work through issues. Most surprisingly is that Grandpop is blind! The two bond once they begin a late-night ritual of Continue reading
Turtschanioff, M. (2017). The Red Abbey Chronicles: Maresi. London: Pushkin Press.
This smart fantasy brings us to an island, a safe haven from harm, where women live together. The book opens with seventeen year old Maresi writing about the events that happened while she was thirteen. Back then, she was carrying out a content existence as a novice at the Abbey working under Mother. Beginning with a lot of description, the first book in The Red Abbey Chronicles does a good job of world-building, notably incorporating vivid descriptions of seasonal foods. I love books with maps in the front, and this one is especially helpful to gain a sense of their world: the silo-shaped Moon House, the centralized Temple of the Rose, the stone Novice House, etc.
However, the pace of the book picks up and
we are swept into a suspenseful whirlwind after Jai arrives torn and tattered, fleeing from danger. Maresi and Continue reading
Federle, T. (2016). The Great American Whatever. NY: Simon & Schuster.
The last page hasn’t been turned yet, but I had to let you know … The Great American Whatever is an endearing, laugh out loud journey with Quinn Roberts, a sixteen year old whose sister, Annabeth, recently died in a car accident. Quinn, Annabeth, and Quinn’s best friend, Geoff, grew up doing everything together from lemonade stands to making movies. Throughout the book we get to see the screenplay in Quinn’s head of how he thinks life should go juxtaposed with what really happens. Screenwriting was Quinn’s passion, but he lost the interest and ability to write since Annabeth’s death.
After months of hibernating in his bedroom, Geoff pulls Quinn out to their first college party where he meets Amir and develops an immediate Continue reading
Gino, A. (2015). George. NY: Scholastic Press.
Stonewall Book Award for Children’s (2016)
California Book Award Gold Medal for Juvenile (2015)
Goodreads Choice Award Nominee for Middle Grade & Children’s (2015)
This is an easy read that could be started and finished in a day, but that’s in order to find out more about George, not only because it’s a thin book! So who is George? She’s physically a boy, but thinks … What if I’m a girl?
Navigating third grade proves to be sticky at times while George is trying to figure everything out and fend off typical bullies at school at the same time. It’s awesome that her bestie, Kelly, is by her side. Kelly is the epitome of a friend who truly listens and embraces the truth, She even celebrates it. George’s family is great, too.
George could make a fantastic handbook for how one is suppose to behave when someone they love thinks they’re transgender. George has an older brother who respects who George is. “Oh. Ohhh. Ohhhhhhhhh,” he Continue reading
Benwell, F. (2015). The Last Leaves Falling. UK: Definitions Young Adult.
I can’t even. This is a beautiful story of a teenage boy in Japan who enjoys playing baseball and dreaming of becoming a professor until one day when his legs simply fail him on the field and he collapses. Sora
and his mother sit in the doctor’s office and hear a dreaded prognosis of ALS, a degenerate disease that will cause Sora to progressively lose control of his body to the point where he will be in a hospital bed with machines to help him breath and eat.
To be a young man facing death is terrifying, but what concerns Sora most is his mother. His lovely mother who has given everything to Sora already, will need to stop working and stay home to care for her only child. He is truly wracked with guilt at the thought of the people he will leave behind, including the dearest grandparents in the history of grandparents.
A quiet, thoughtful soul, Sora doesn’t have a network of friendship already in place in his life, and as a sort of social outlet, he turns to a teenage chat forum. Mai, Kaito, and Sora turn out to form an incredible support system for each other. Continue reading
Sáenz, B. (2017). The Inexplicable Logic of My Life. Boston: Clarion Books.
The Inexplicable Logic of My Life is a heart-wrenching, joyful, and tearful story all in one. In his senior year at high school, an orphaned boy named Salvador, or Sal, who is adopted by a gay, single
father. Sal likes to consider himself a good kid with good grades who stays in line. Until the first day of school that is, when he punches someone in the face. Suddenly Sal is questioning who he is and his place is the world, as an adopted part of a Mexican-American family. And when things start to tunnel downhill, Sal and his best friend, Samantha, will have to be prepared for the worst.
I first became aware of Benjamin Alire Sáenz when I chose Aristotle and Dante Explore the Universe from an LGBTQ+ display at the public library during Pride Week in Vancouver. It remains my favourite of Sáenz’s, but beware because
anyone I’ve spoken to who has read Aristotle first, favours it, while anyone who has read Inexplicable Logic considers that one superior! 🙂 I enjoyed the romantic component of Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe, and still think of that story of two boys, both loners, but who serendipitously connect and form a beautiful friendship.
Larbalestier, J. (2016). My Sister Rosa. New York: Allen & Unwin.
What if your parents didn’t believe your little sister was dangerous, but you knew differently? My Sister Rosa, by Justine Larbalestier, is a captivating young adult thriller set in New York City that deals with mental illness. The cast of characters, as diverse and as the City itself, smoothly incorporates different economic classes, cultures, races, physical abilities, and sexual orientations. The story revolves around Che, a seventeen year old high schooler, trying to adjust after another one of his family’s moves. His home situation is definetly different – the parents are past hippies who don’t care much for hands-on parenting, the kids’ schooling is incredibly scattered since they relocate so much, and Che is often isolated with his anxiety about his ten year old sister, Rosa, who behaves inappropriately and dangerously when her parents aren’t looking. Che Continue reading
Brosgol, V. (2011). Anya’s Ghost. New York: First Second.
Anya’s Ghost is an alluring story about what would happen if your best friend were a ghost. What could this ghost, who can shrink down to a small size, do to help you with your social life or your grades? And most importantly, what would she want in return? Anya is worried about fitting in, embarrassed about being a Russian immigrant, and is generally a girl going through the typical struggles of being a high schooler, when one morning she falls down a hole and lands next to a skeleton. Oh not to worry; the ghost girl belonging to the skeleton is of the friendly sort; however the last thing insecure Anya wants is a ghost following her to school!
Vera Brosgol, the creator of this graphic novel, was a Continue reading
Leaf, M. (1936). The Story of Ferdinand. New York: The Viking Press.
Awards: Indies Choice Book Award for Picture Book Hall of Fame (2010)
Gandhi’s favourite book, Ferdinand tells the story of a young Spanish bull who prefers smelling flowers to running, jumping, skipping and butting heads with the other little bulls. We quickly learn that Ferdinand is different, and that he is comfortable with this. We ingest a lot through discovering Ferdinand – the effectiveness of peaceful demonstration, the wonderfulness of quiet confidence, and the respect for individual variations. For this particular bull would like to just Continue reading
Gay, M. (2005). Caramba. Toronto: Groundwood Books.
Marilyn Baillie Picture Book Award (2006)
Cats can fly?! Well yes, surely everybody knows that! And we are once again thrust into the wild world of Marie-Louise Gay as she presents Caramba, the cat who sadly could not fly. The reader is then privy to a story of being different and the challenges which accompany being unique. Caramba finds Continue reading