Brown Girl Dreaming


Woodson, J. (2014). Brown girl dreaming. New York: Penguin Group USA.

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Once again, this a book that caught my interest because it’s an award winner. In 2014, Jacqueline Woodson won the National Book Award for Young People’s Literature. The book was also awarded the Coretta Scott King Award for Author, as well as a Newbery Honor. Poetry isn’t my favorite genre. I took a poetry writing class in college, and it just didn’t click with me. However, seeing as I’ve never actually read a verse novel, I decided to give it a try.

It’s hard for me to talk about this book. I’m very glad that an #OwnVoices diverse book like this is so popular. Maybe I’m just really not a poetry person, because this book just didn’t pull me in like I hoped it would. Still, I recognize the value of this book and would definitely put it in both a children’s and young adult collection. With diverse books making up most of the banned books in the U.S. but still making up only a very small percentage of the publishing market, books like these are necessary.

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Lai, T. (2011). Inside out and back again. New York: HarperCollins.

A young girl describes her experiences leaving Vietnam and resettling in Alabama in 1975.

Shared appeal terms: Multicultural, novels in verse, nonfiction, historical fiction. Found on the NoveList database.


Dial Books for Young Readers

Image result for dial books for young readers

Dial Books for Young Readers

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(An imprint of the Penguin Group USA, Dial Books’s social media presence is under Penguin)

Catalog availability: Picture books, children’s and young adult fiction and nonfiction books. For ages 2 – teen.

Established in 1961, Dial Books for Young Readers was an early advocate for publishing books for very young readers. It’s Very First Books line published some of the first board books in the U.S. According to their website, Dial Books is committed to publishing diverse books. Part of the Penguin Group USA, Dial Books for Young Readers is a well known name in the publishing world. According to their website, their goal is to entertain, enrich, and encourage readers.


Winner of the Printz Award, I’ll Give You the Sun details the lives of twins Noah and Jude, who start out inseparable but years later, are hardly speaking to each other. This book has won many awards in addition to the Printz Award, and is named on the Dial Books for Young Readers website.

Reviews for I’ll Give You the Sun

Publishers Weekly

“Children’s Book Review: I’ll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson. Dial, $17.99 (384) ISBN 978-0-8037-3496-8.”,

Kirkus Reviews

“I’LL GIVE YOU THE SUN by Jandy Nelson.” Kirkus Reviews, 12 Aug. 2014,

A Monster Calls


Ness, P. (2015). A monster calls. London: Walker Books.

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I didn’t know that much about the plot of A Monster Calls going into it. What I did know was that the original idea was by author Siobhan Dowd, but she passed away before she could write the book herself. Patrick Ness then took over the project and completed the novel. I’d also heard that the book had beautiful illustrations (which was true) and was a tearjerker (also true). These factors convinced me to give this book a try, and I’m glad I did. This was a beautiful story about love, loneliness, and acceptance.

This book belongs in a YA collection, and I would take it a step further and argue that a physical copy should definitely be available in the library. The illustrations are beautiful, and to view them in eBook format just wouldn’t do it justice. I did not listen to the audiobook so I can’t speak for the quality of the narration, but listening to the audiobook, so that the monster speaks to you as he speaks to Conor, while viewing the illustrations, could offer an enhanced experience. For that reason, it could also be valuable to have an audiobook copy in the collection.

Read Alike


Riggs, R. (2011). Miss Peregrines Home for Peculiar Children. Philadelphia: Quirk Books.

After a family tragedy, Jacob explores an abandoned orphanage on an island off the coast of Wales, and learns disturbing truths about the children who lived there.

Shared appeal terms: Illustrated books, 7-12 grade levels, books to movies, teenage boys. Found from an article of read alikes on the NYPL website.

Illuminae by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff


Kaufman, A., & Kristoff, J. (2017). Illuminae. New York: Ember.

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Girl meets boy. Girl breaks up with boy. Girl must survive with boy as planet is invaded, a an enemy warship pursues them, and a deadly virus breaks out.

Like many of the books I read, Illuminae caught my interest because I read so many rave reviews when it was first published. I had my misgivings about this book. The format is very unique. The story is told through documents, interviews, emails, journal entries, etc. While most readers will initially be drawn in by this, I worried that it looked more like an owner’s manual than an actual book. Still, the reviews were so overwhelmingly positive that, being the YA science fiction fan that I am, I decided to read it anyway.

Based on popular demand alone, Illuminae belongs in a YA collection. Teens are easily able to keep up with the latest trends. If they go to the library looking for the latest “cool” science fiction novel and the librarian doesn’t have it, the library is going to look outdated. Libraries deal with the stigma that they’re obsolete in the digital age enough as it is. It is a violent book, but so are most of the action films your kids are watching (and movies are much more graphic). This book is exciting and unique. Despite it’s intimidatingly large size, Illuminae deserves a spot on your shelf.

Read Alike

Ryan, A. K. (2011). Glow. New York: St. Martins Griffin.


Fifteen-year-old Waverly is expected to marry and have children in order to repopulate the planet, but an unsuspecting attack from the sister ship puts her in danger.

Shared appeal terms: Science fiction genre, 7-12 grade levels, both contain space flight, space vehicles, and artificial intelligence. Found using the NoveList database.

Review Post #1

Review #1: In the style of School Library Journal

This One Summer by Jillian Tamaki and Mariko Tamaki


A dreamy coming of age story about two girls who deal with challenges involving their family, growing up, and crushes. Every summer Rose and Windy go to their lake houses in Awago Beach, but this summer things change. With surreal blue and white illustrations and a stream of conscious narrative, this Caldecott Honor graphic novel is a character story. Some readers may find the plot, lacking in twists and turns as it does, tedious, but this lack of action from the main characters also enhances how confusing a time this is for them. As preadolescences, they’re no longer children, but are not quite teenagers yet either. They know about things like dating and sex, but they don’t have the tools or experiences to truly understand them. The graphic novel also deals with issues including teen pregnancy, women shaming, and depression. The girls are dealing with these issues for the first time and must figure out how to navigate them, all while not having much power in any of the situations they face. The way the graphic novel enhances these feelings of helplessness, and the way it affects the friendship of Rose and Windy, is what makes it such a strong story. Verdict: A picturesque story about girlhood and growing up that’s recommended for both tweens and teens who like character driven stories.

Review #2: In the style of VOYA



The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

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Probably the most important young adult book published this year, The Hate U Give is a novel inspired by the Black Lives Matter movement. Teenager Starr Carter witnesses the shooting of her friend Khalil, who was unarmed. Then the media begins to twist the story, where Khalil is presented as a thug and the white police officer who shot him was only protecting himself. Despite her fears, Starr decides to speak up and defend Khalil.

The Hate U Give bluntly rips into an issue that desperately needed to be ripped into. Author Angie Thomas does so brilliantly, while also weaving many different perspectives into the narrative; Starr’s uncle is a cop, and her boyfriend is white. Starr also faces other issues as a young black girl. She must behave differently in her privileged school environment than when she is in her hometown. When one of her white friends makes a fried chicken joke, something she views as harmless, Starr tries to help her understand why the joke is a problem. Starr speaks from her experiences as a black girl, with the emotional struggles that come with that. This is a book that everyone should read. Fortunately, it’s wonderfully written and hard to put down.