On the Come Up

Bri’s dad was an awesome rapper, something she aspires to be. But his life was cut short when a rival gang member shot and killed him when Bri was very young. She wins a spot “in the Ring”, a neighborhood club where budding artists “Battle” it out. But when Bri is unjustly thrown to the ground by a school guard, she decides to channel her rage and impotence into her rapping. Angie Thomas is a wonderful writer who draws on her experience as an African-American female to realistically portray the battles faced everyday by people of color. Her first novel was The Hate You Give, followed by this title, and her newest is Concrete Rose. I really enjoy reading her; all three titles are excellent young adult novels.

The Kindred Spirits Supper Club

Sabrina Monroe has anxiety issues ever since Erica Hendrickson, the mean girl in grade school, bullied her. Now that she is an adult, she keeps it at bay by mostly keeping to herself and avoiding stressful situations. But after her boyfriend breaks up with her, and she loses her journalism job in another city, she is forced to return home to move in with her parents in Wisconsin. Specifically, Wisconsin-Dells, where the above nemesis is now her new employer. Did I mention her family can see ghosts? The women in the Monroe family help spirits who have unresolved issues to move past them. When a handsome local restaurant owner enters the picture, Sabrina’s life becomes more complicated than ever. I enjoy Amy Reichert’s writing; this is a feel-good novel about being true to yourself. I highly recommend it for fans of romantic fiction.

Patricia Reilly Giff

Children’s author, Patricia Reilly Giff, passed away this week on June 22nd at age 86. She wrote over 100 books for children and won two Newbery Honor awards. Several of her middle-grade titles were historical fiction set in New York City in the early 1900’s about immigrants newly settled in the United States (Lily’s Crossing and Water Street). One of her Newbery Honor books, Pictures of Hollis Woods, involves a young foster girl who connects with her foster parent, an elderly artist. Many of Giff’s books regularly appear on required reading lists and are reliable for fine writing, mood and plot. A favorite of teachers, Patricia Giff’s stories will live on for children for years to come.

The Elephant in the Room

I absolutely loved this children’s book. Holly Goldberg Sloan has definitely hit this one out of the park! Sila is an American, but her parents are Turkish citizens. And when Sila’s mom protests being paid less as a housekeeping person than her male counterparts, the hotel where she worked for fourteen years fires her and causes her to be deported. But after a series of coincidences involving an older gentleman, an elephant, and a friend from her school, Sila manages to get her mom on the right track to come home. Sloan has penned a heartwarming story with well developed and extremely likable characters. This one is not to be missed!

Carnegie and Greenaway Medal

The 2021 Carnegie and Greenaway medals for children’s books have just been announced from the U.K..

Jason Reynolds and Sydney Smith each won a medal for 2021 awards. Reynolds, who is the National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature 2020-2021 won for his novel Look Both Ways. Perfect for middle-school age children, Look Both Ways are a set of interconnected stories. Sydney Smith won for his picture book, Small in the City.