Iturbe, A. (2017). The Librarian of Auschwitz. NY: Henry Holt.
A Spanish author goes on a hunt for a good story , and through some serious detective work unravels the story of the littlest library in the world. Antonio Iturbe met up with Dita Kraus, who took him all over Prague to the house she grew up in before the Nazis sent her family to the ghetto in Teresin, and then on to the concentration camps.
What follows is a remarkable story of a young girl given the responsibility of protecting the few rare and precious books left in their concentration camp, and her year of horror and dehumanization that follows.
Older teens and young adults will be swept up in Dita’s journey. There is some raw language and violence.
Thomas, K. (2017). Little Monsters. NY: Delacorte Press.
Little Monsters is a guilty pleasure thriller from Kara Thomas that reveals how teenage girls are capable of taking their emotions and actions to an extreme level. Set during a Minnesota winter, Kacey Young has recently moved out of her unstable mother’s house to her father’s house with a warm welcome from her step mother, step brother, and half sister. They truly want what is best for Kacey, who has lived a tough life and has some dark secrets. Along with all of these changes, Kacey is also adjusting to a new school and making friends.
Very quickly, Bailey and Jade become her besties, showing up at her window one night to sneak her out to a haunted, abandoned barn for a seance, with Kacey’s younger half sister unexpectedly tagging along. The town’s legend of the Red Woman adds a slice of horror to the plot, and when Bailey goes missing following a party the next night, a convoluted psychological mystery Continue reading
Thomas, A. (2017). The Hate U Give. New York: HarperCollins Publisher.
Inspired by the movement #BlackLivesMatter, The Hate U Give is an incredibly relevant and heartbreaking account of a sixteen year old girl who witnesses the killing of her childhood best friend at the hands of the police. Everyday Starr leaves her own neighbourhood where her family owns the corner store, to attend private school in an affluent neighbourhood. Up until this point, Starr had done fairly good job of keeping her two worlds separate –dating someone at school who is white, while still being very much a part of her own community, until now. Even though Khalid was unarmed and innocent at the time of his murder, the press makes him out to be a thug.
The Hate U Give (or THUG) will inevitably spark discussion on race. It reminded me a lot of All American Boys by Jason Reynolds and Brendan Kiely because both books deal with witnessing a police killing of an innocent young black man and grappling with the decision to come forward as a witness, or not speaking up out of fear. Continue reading
Prendergast, G. (2016). Pandas on the Eastside. Victoria: Orca Book Publishers.
A little book with a fun design on the cover caught my eye, and it was so easy to delve in and imagine East Vancouver during 1972, I had finished the story of Journey Song before I knew it. Part historical fiction, part alternate reality, it’s the story of a wilful and cheeky girl, Journey, and a wide cast of characters who live in Vancouver’s downtown Eastside when two giant pandas were gifted to the American people from the Chinese government. In reality, the transportation of the pandas went smoothly and didn’t stop in Canada, but Prendergast imagines a world where the United States and China have a spat and the pandas are delayed indefinitely in a warehouse in Vancouver; a stop in the trip that never actually happened.
Journey becomes concerned about the pandas’ living conditions in the warehouse Continue reading
Willow Wilson, G. (2014). Ms. Marvel, Volume 1: No Normal. NY: Marvel Comics.
Hugo Award for Best Graphic Story (2015)
If you’ve already seen and fallen for Wonder Woman in the theatres, what’s next?! Graphic novel, Ms. Marvel, Volume 1: No Normal, presents Pakistani Muslim girl, Kamala Khan, living in Jersey City, New Jersey. Kamala quickly becomes a very relatable character with her typical teenage angst, strict parents, and religion that sets he apart from her friends. Even though she has always idolized Captain Marvel, she still struggles to learn how to control her own shape shifting powers. Life has become even more confusing now.
Great design and an empowering, fun adventure.
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