Serena Says

Written By: Lanita S. Davis

Cover Art by: Frank Morrison

For Ages: MG & Up

Language: English, some Tagalog.

Topics Covered: Friendship, Confidence, Chronic Illness, Kidney Transplant, Blogging, Self-Esteem.

Summary: Serena is an amazing blogger destined for fame…in her mind, anyway. In reality, Serena practices vlogging in her room trying to work up the courage to post a video on her older sister’s channel. Serena has also been waiting impatiently for her best friend JC to get back from the hospital after a kidney transplant. When Serena gets sick and can’t visit her immuno-compromised friend, this sets off a chain reaction of new best friendships, group projects, and pretty much everything else that would ruin an 11 year old’s school experience.

Serena is a bit of a melodramatic narrator, but who isn’t at the age of 11? Something I also enjoyed about the book is how JC’s Filipino heritage is infused into the story, and Tagalog phrases are bandied about. I think it’s really important for Black girls to see the beginning stages of being a content creator, like Serena, who develops confidence and self-esteem throughout the book. The book also addresses the topic of major surgery, mental and chronic illness in young people, and how difficult that can be to navigate as a child. Serena’s mother works as a psychiatric hospital, providing the reader representation of Black women in medicine and an opportunity to discuss mental illness in family members. Serena Says covers a wide range of topics, and if you have a budding starlet, this could be the book for you!

This book was kindly sent by Harper Kids, but all opinions are my own!

Tanita S. Davis

Tanita S. Davis is an asocial hermit who feels really weird talking about herself in the third person, and honestly would rather be somewhere reading a book, but oh, well.

Most bios are like a really intense game of two truths and a lie, so Tanita invites you to consider which is which: Tanita holds a Master of Fine Arts from Mills College. She fed her love for traveling when she moved to Glasgow, Scotland, in 2007. She now lives in Northern Arizona in a yurt, and makes cheese.

Tanita serves on the board of The Children’s and Young Adult Bloggers’ Literary Awards, better known as The Cybils. Her short fiction can be found in Hunger Mountain and Cicada magazines.

Her occasional truths, frequent lies, and very random observations can be found on twitter  @tanita_s_davis

Frank Morrison

Frank Morrison (b. 1971) started his journey as a graffiti artist in New Jersey, tagging walls with spray paint. However, it was the opportunity to tour with music artist Sybil as a breakdancer, an influential high school art teacher, and a visit to the Louvre Museum in Paris that opened him up to new artistic and creative avenues.An early indoctrine into hip-hop culture can be seen through Morrison’s work, which has been dubbed a mash-up of urban mannerism, graffiti and abstract contemporary, and reflects deeply on the lost of human stories from past eras. Morrison strives to capture people as they are, translating emotions through his paintings and leaving a memoir of our life and times today. His work depicts African-American livelihood in a way that is both familiar and comforting to those who often feel histories have been forgotten and culture has been usurped.  Citing both Ernie Barnes and Annie Lee as forebearers of this tradition, Morrison remarks on his practice, “My work dignifies the evolllution of everyday, underrepresented people and places within the urban landscape. I seek to both highlight and preserve the soul of the city through the lens of hip-hop culture and  urban iconography. I want people to experience the visual rhythms that choreograph life for the average, everyday person.”Morrison’s work has been featured at Art Basel, Scope Miami and Red Dot art fairs, and shown at the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture (sponsored by ESSENCE ART and Toyota) and Mason Fine Art Gallery (Atlanta, Georgia). His solo exhibitions include “Frank Morrison: Live, Love and Jazz” (2013) and “Graffiti” (2014), both at Richard Beavers Gallery (Brooklyn, New York).

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