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#QP2018 Nominees: The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas and Bang by Barry Lyga

Mon, 05/15/2017 - 07:00

The impact of shootings on survivors, families and communities is a timely topic. 

Unfortunately, the daily news may include incidents of gun violence including school shootings, police brutality, domestic violence, and tragic accidents.

Young Adult authors have increasingly been writing books that address these issues, to give teens touchpoints to identify with and help them understand their world. The following two recently published books, The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas, and Bang by Barry Lyga, help to tackle these issues for readers.

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
Balzer + Bray
February 28, 2017

Starr struggles to balance her life at home living in a poor black neighborhood and the private prep school she attends with much wealthier students. When she witnesses her childhood friend shot needlessly by a police officer, her whole world is turned upside down.

This compelling story is told from Starr’s point of view, where readers follow her thought processes as she navigates difficult situations and harsh, contradictory realities. The timely social issue of police brutality in black communities will grab readers’ attention. Starr’s experience perfectly illustrates one of the biggest issues faced by African-American people in the United States today. “The talk” may be familiar to many marginalized populations, and an eye opener to others. Starr is a complex introspective character that many teens will identify with, while she must come to terms with the sobering, unequal roles society has forced upon her community.

Many juxtapositions help show the complexity of the social issues being tackled within the story. Police are shown in both negative and positive lights, through officer “one fifteen”, the shooter of Starr’s friend, Khalil, and her Uncle Carlos, a police officer who is striving for justice. A poor community is depicted doing its best to protect its youth against gangs and drugs, while the youth’s attraction to the money and power brought by gangs and drugs is a heart-wrenching cycle. The conflicts between Starr’s neighborhood friends and her prep school friends serve to illuminate the complicated relationships between race, class, and privilege.

Dialog features use of teen slang and pop culture references many teen readers will appreciate. In particular, Tupac is referenced often, as his “THUG LIFE” anagram is the inspiration for the book’s title. Recommended for fans of Jason Reynolds and Brendan Kiely’s All American Boys and Kekla Magoon’s How it Went Down.

-Jessica Ormonde and Lisa Krok

Bang by Barry Lyga
Little, Brown and Company Books for Young Readers
April 18, 2017

When he was four years old, Sebastian accidentally shot and killed his four-month-old sister. Ten years later, he still can’t forgive himself. When new neighbors move in, becomes fast friends with new girl Aneesa. For the first time, Sebastian has a friend who does not know his horrific history, who doesn’t see him as a baby killer instead of a regular fourteen-year-old boy.

Teens will be drawn in almost immediately with the attention-grabbing admission that Sebastian killed his baby sister. Short, candid chapters will keep readers engaged in this character-driven story. The angst-filled household he shares with his mother, where things are emotionally intense as the ten-year anniversary of the incident occurs, propels the story forward.

Sebastian is seriously considering suicide; ending things with a bang, just as they started.  Making homemade pizzas is therapeutic and gives him a form of solace. Although his relationship with his mother is strained and awkward, she genuinely loves him and supports his pizza making ventures. Despite the heavy topics, Sebastian’s friendship with spunky Aneesa creates an atmosphere of hope, as they team up to create a YouTube channel highlighting their many creative pizza making adventures. When online haters post disparaging anti-Muslim remarks about Aneesa, Sebastian sees her courageousness and questions his own. His complex inner thoughts about his family history lead him to seek out his father…the owner of the gun that killed his infant sister.

Although this book has broad appeal for many types of readers, fans of authors who write character-driven books, such as Jeff Zentner and Jennifer Niven, especially, will appreciate the thought-provoking, well-developed characters.

-Lisa Krok

 

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Happy Mother’s Day: Salute to Bad Moms

Sun, 05/07/2017 - 07:00

Mother’s Day is the celebration of the woman who supported you, saved you, and loved you unconditionally.  Unfortunately the mothers below didn’t quite make the grade.

 

Willowdean “Dumplin” Dickson is a Texan, daughter of the Miss Teen Beauty Pageant’s coordinator, and overweight.  She has best friend issues, boy issues, mommy issues but she decides to honor her aunt by entering the pageant.

Madeline suffers from the bubble boy syndrome where she’s allergic to everything and can’t go outside. Her only human contact are her mother and her nurse. One day a new family moves in and she fall in love with Olly.

Bone Gap Illinois is a little town that has gaps where one can fall into and never find their way out.  When Roza goes missing and creepy Finn doesn’t help her, the town suspects Finn but Finn suspects a mysterious stranger.

Rani’s father is having an affair and her mother ignores it.  Rani is suffering because her father is having an affair and her mother ignores her.  Rani finds poetry and live performance a comfort in this realistic fiction novel set in 1990’s Hawaii.

Flannery needs a new school book but her unemployed eccentric mother would rather blog about how to be a good parent than actually taking her own advice.  When an old friend moves back to town, Flannery falls in love but soon finds out he has big problems of his own.

Katie is in love but she’s not ready to confront it and she can’t confide in her mother because her mother’s too consumed by her mentally disabled brother as well her Katie’s grandmother who’s suffering from Alzheimer’s.   Katie soon finds out that her mother may not know how to be nurturing because of all the issues her mother had with Katie’s grandmother.

Vivi has decided that she doesn’t need to take her meds and her mother acts like she cares but she’s never around.  When Vivi meets Jonah, she not only finds love but a new family but she could ruin it if she doesn’t take her medication.

Nora is graduating and has no plans.  Her mother expects her to take care of her younger brother who steals, abuses her and her mother, and might be on drugs.  Instead of seeking help for her brother, Nora’s mother makes excuses for his behavior which escalates the situation and it doesn’t help that everyone is scared of the serial killer in the city.

-Dawn Abron is currently reading: The Conspiracy of Kings by Megan Whalen Turner

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Women in Comics: The World of Wonder Woman!

Tue, 05/02/2017 - 07:00

The beginning of next month will see the premier of the new Wonder Woman movie, so now is the perfect time to take a dive into the many different comics that have featured Wonder Woman over the years. Though her creation is credited to a man, it is not surprising that over the years many female comics creators have been inspired to tell stories about this character. Each one offers their own take on her, but any of these books would be a great place to start (or continue) your reading about this fantastic character.

Wonder Woman: The True Amazon by Jill Thompson – In this new take on Wonder Woman’s path to her place in the world, Jill Thompson shows her as a spoiled and selfish girl for whom everything has come much too easily. But, when her bad behavior leads to tragedy, she must redeem herself and come to earn her place in her society and her role as Wonder Woman. With such a different take on Diana’s origin story and such interesting art work, this book is a great option for those who have never read about Wonder Woman in the past.

Wonder Woman: Love and Murder by Jodi Picoult with art by Drew Johnson, Ray Snyder, Terry Dodson, Rachel Dodson, and Paco Diaz – In this story by best-selling author Jodi Picoult, Diana Prince aka “Wonder Woman” is in disguise as an agent for the Department of Metahuman Affairs when she is tasked with capturing Wonder Woman. With an impossible task before her, she must juggle her efforts to exist undercover with her efforts to keep her secret. Jodi Picoult was the first woman to be a regular series writer for Wonder Woman and this arc is well worth checking out.

Sensation Comics Featuring Wonder Woman – This collection has far too many authors and artists to list them all, but just a few of the women involved in this project include Gail Simone, Amanda Deibert, Marguerite Sauvage, and Amy Mebberson. Each story stands alone, which makes this a great option for those who prefer quick, discrete stories and those who want to see lots of stylistic variety. The anthology is sure to have something for everyone and it offers a nice starting place for those who aren’t familiar with Wonder Woman.

Bombshells Volume 1: Enlisted by Marguerite Bennett with art by Marguerite Sauvage – Set during World War II, this series considers a version of history where the Allies call on the help of some of the greatest super heroines ever in their efforts to win the war. Readers have a chance to see Wonder Woman, Batwoman, Mera, Poison Ivy, and many more in a completely new light. Marguerite Sauvage’ artwork fits perfectly with the setting as it reimagines the iconic characters in a “bombshell” style that calls to mind actual art from the war period. These books are ideal for comics fans who also enjoy historical fiction.

Wonder Woman Volume 7: War-Torn by Meredith Finch with art by David Finch – Diana is faced with competing responsibilities as the Queen of the Amazons, a member of the Justice League, and the Goddess of War, and must try to find a way to make all of these piece of her identity come together. In the end, this is easier said than done and ultimately Wonder Woman is faced with a challenge to her role among the Amazonians. Will she be able to keep her place in her society? Though billed as a seventh volume in a series, this story mostly starts a new arc that has little to do with the major plot points of the earlier volumes, so anyone can pick up this book as a starting place. It is a great option for those who want an action-packed story of Wonder Woman’s exploits.

Wonder Woman: Warbringer by Leigh Bardugo – Those who aren’t fans of the graphic novel format will want to keep an eye out for Leigh Bardugo’s latest novel, which is a coming of age story starring Wonder Woman herself. In this story, Diana, Princess of the Amazons, seeks to save a mortal at the risk of being expelled by her people. This one won’t be released until August, but it is worth mentioning here since it is sure to be a popular addition to most any library’s collection.

These are just a few of the great Wonder Woman comics that have been published over the years. I’d love to hear your own favorites in the comments!

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