Tag Archives: ya literature

The Hero Next Door

Written by: Each short story is written by someone different!  Edited by Olugbemisola Rhuday-Perkovich.

Covert Art by: Michelle Cunningham

For ages: YA middle grades

Language: English. Some Spanish, some Arabic.

Topics Covered: Growing Up, Neurodiversity, Domestic Violence, POC-Centric Narratives, Own Voices, Sports, Supernatural, Adoption, Friendship, Family, Love.

Summary: This book is awesome!  Each story takes a unique viewpoint and has a hero in it, but an unexpected one.  There are stories about adoption, ghosts, sports, brilliant robot engineer twin sisters, and even one with an autistic main character who loves aikido!

This book is special because everyone can find something to connect with in these stories.  They are diverse in viewpoint, in interests, and storylines.  In one story, the hero is a camp counselor that buys something for a town zombie.  In another, the hero is a young girl who realizes she must use fairy magic to stop a war between worlds.  It’s hard to describe all of these stories without giving away everything!  Trust us, this book is fantastic and the author list stellar.  It’s a great introduction to a huge array of talented authors, and a jumping off point into their works.  Highly recommend you check this book out and have at least a few copies for you classroom!

About the Authors & the Cover Artist:

Olugbemisola Rhuday-Perkovich is the author of the 8th Grade Superzero, which was named a Notable Book for a Global Society and a Notable Social Studies Trade Book for Young People. She also writes nonfiction, including Above and Beyond: NASA’s Journey to Tomorrow, and Someday is Now: Clara Luper and the 1958 Oklahoma City Sit-Ins. She is the coauthor of the middle grade novel Two Naomis, which was nominated for an NAACP Image Award and is a Junior Library Guild selection, and its sequel, Naomis Too. She is a member of the Brown Bookshelf and the advisory board of We Need Diverse Books. She has contributed to numerous anthologies for children, teens, and educators, holds an MA in education, and writes frequently on literacy-related topics for Brightly. Visit her online at olugbemisolabooks.com!

Rita Williams-Garcia is the New York Times bestselling author of nine novels for young adults and middle grade readers.  Her most recent novel, Gone Crazy in Alabama ends the saga of the Gaither Sisters, who appear in One Crazy Summer and PS Be Eleven.  Her novels have been recipients of numerous awards, including the Coretta Scott King Award, National Book Award Finalists, Newbery Honor Book, Junior Library Guild, and the Scott O’Dell Prize for Historical Fiction.  She served on faculty at the Vermont College of Fine Arts Writing for Children MFA Program and she resides in Queens, New York.   

Ronald L. Smith is the award-winning author of the middle grade novel, Black Panther: The Young Prince and The Mesmerist, a supernatural Victorian fantasy. His first novel, Hoodoo, won the 2016 Coretta Scott King/John Steptoe New Talent Author Award. His latest is The Owls Have Come to Take Us Away, a Junior Library Guild Selection. Ronald grew up on Air Force Bases and has lived in Japan, Maine, Alabama, Michigan, South Carolina, and a bunch of other places he doesn’t remember. As a boy, he loved to read, especially fantasy and science fiction, and this inspired his lifelong passion of the fantastical. The book that inspired him to write more than any other was The Wonderful Flight to the Mushroom Planet by Eleanor Cameron.

Linda Sue Park was born in Urbana, Illinois on March 25, 1960, and grew up outside Chicago. The daughter of Korean immigrants, she has been writing poems and stories since she was four years old, and her favorite thing to do as a child was read.In 1997, she started writing her first book, Seesaw Girl. It was accepted that same year and published in 1999. Since then, Linda Sue has published many other books for young people, including A Single Shard, which was awarded the 2002 Newbery Medal. She now lives in western New York with the same Irishman; their son lives nearby, and their daughter lives in Brooklyn. Besides reading and writing, Linda Sue likes to cook, travel, watch movies, and do the New York Times crossword puzzle. She also loves dogs, watching sports on television and playing board and video games. When she grows up, she would like to be an elephant scientist.

Anna Dobbin is a writer, copy editor, and proofreader. She owns an adorable Italian greyhound named Pintxo. In middle school she played soccer three hundred days a year and also loved singing, reading and making art. Anna is Linda Sue Park’s daughter, and this story is just one of their second professional collaboration after they contributed to the collection Totally Middle School, edited by Betsy Groban.

hena khanHena Khan is a Pakistani-American Muslim who was born and raised in Maryland, and enjoys sharing and writing about her culture and religion. She has also written about a bunch of other topics, from spies to space travel, that take her out of her reality and on adventures. While not quite as thrilling, she’s had a few adventures of her own, managed to get to some pretty fantastic places on our planet, and met incredible people. She’s slightly obsessed with Spain, ceramic tiles and pottery, food, flamenco, and good coffee. When she’s not cooking up a story, she’s often actually cooking food or baking treats. She also spends time writing and editing for international organizations that work to improve the health and lives of people around the world.


Suma Subramaniam works with children globally to promote education and is a WNDB volunteer. After a successful corporate career for many years, now, instead of chasing technical talent in the hi-tech industry, she chases characters in her fictional work for the most part of her time. Suma has an MFA in Creative Writing from Vermont College of Fine Arts, a Certificate in Popular Fiction from the University of Washington, and advanced degrees in computer science and management.

Photo by Eric Jenks

For over forty years Joseph Bruchac has been creating literature and music that reflect his indigenous heritage and traditions. He is a proud Nulhegan Abenaki citizen and respected elder among his people. He is the author of more than 120 books for children and adults. His best selling Keepers of the Earth: Native American Stories and Environmental Activities for Children series, with its remarkable integration of science and folklore, continue to receive critical acclaim and to be used in classrooms throughout the country. 

Photo: Silvia Baptiste, 2013

Juana Medina was born and raised in Bogotá, Colombia. She is the author and illustrator of the Pura Belpré Award-winning chapter book Juana & Lucas. Juana is also the author and illustrator for Juana & Lucas: Big Problemas1 Big SaladABC Pasta, and Sweet Shapes. She illustrated Smick! By Doreen Cronin, Lena’s Shoes Are Nervous by Keith Calabrese, and I’m a Baked Potato! by Elise Primavera. She has participated in two recent anthologies: We Are The Change (Chronicle, 2019) and The Hero Next Door (Crown Books, 2019). Juana has been lucky to earn recognitions from the Colombian Presidency, the National Cartoonists Society, the National Headliner Award, International Latino Book Awards, and Ridgway Award honors, among others — which is quite impressive for someone who was a less-than-stellar student and who often got in trouble for drawing cartoons of her teachers. Despite all trouble caused, Juana studied and taught at the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) and the Corcoran College of Art + Design (where students had plenty of chances to draw cartoons of her). She lives in the DC area, with her wife, twin sons, and their dear dog, Rosita.

Mike Jung is the author of Geeks, Girls, and Secret Identities and Unidentified Suburban Object. He is a library professional by day, a writer (and ukulele player) by night and was a founding member of the #WeNeedDiverseBooks team. He lives in Oakland, California, with his wife and two children.

Cynthia Leitich Smith (“Leitich” is pronounced Lie-tick. First a long “i,” then a short “i,” followed by a hard “k.”) is best known as an award-winning, bestselling author of fantastical and realistic fiction for young readers. She is the New York Times best-selling YA author of Hearts Unbroken and both the Feral trilogy and Tantalize series. These novels were released by Candlewick Press in the U.S., Walker Books in the U.K. and Australia/New Zealand, and additional publishers around the globe. She also is the author of several award-winning children’s books, including: Jingle Dancer, Rain Is Not My Indian Name, and Indian Shoes, all published by HarperCollins. In addition, she has published short stories, nonfiction essays, and poetry for young readers. She is based in Austin, Texas, and a citizen of Muscogee Nation /ma(:)skó:k-î/. She holds both a bachelor of science degree (with majors in news/editorial and public relations) from the William Allen White School of Journalism at The University of Kansas and a J.D. from The University of Michigan Law School, where she was president of the Native Law Students Association and co-founded The Michigan Journal of Gender and Law. She also serves on the core faculty of the Vermont College of Fine Arts MFA program in Writing for Children and Young Adults. She is both a member of the Advisory Board of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators and a member of the Honorary Advisory Board of We Need Diverse Books. Order books by Cynthia Leitich Smith.

Ellen Oh is a former adjunct college instructor and lawyer with an insatiable curiosity for ancient Asian history. She loves martial arts films, K-pop, K-dramas, and cooking shows, and is a rabid fan of the Last Airbender and the Legend of Korra series. Ellen is the co-founder of We Need Diverse Books (WNDB), a non-profit organization dedicated to increasing diversity in children’s literature. She is the author of the middle grade novel The Spirit Hunters, Book 1, and Book 2, Island of the Monsters, and the YA fantasy trilogy The Prophecy Series. She is the editor of WNDB’s middle grade anthology Flying Lessons and Other Stories, and the YA anthology A Thousand Beginnings and Endings out in June 2018. Originally from New York City, Ellen lives in Bethesda, Maryland, with her husband and three children and has yet to satisfy her quest for a decent bagel.

R. J. Palacio lives in Brooklyn, NY with her husband, two sons and two dogs (Bear and Beau). Her debut novel, Wonder, has been on the New York Times bestseller list since March, 2012, and has sold over 5 million copies worldwide. The book’s message of kindness has inspired the Choose Kind movement, and has been embraced by readers, young and old, around the world. A first generation American (her parents were Colombian immigrants), Palacio was born on July 13, 1963 in New York City. Her birth name is Raquel Jaramillo (Palacio was her mother’s maiden name). Palacio attended The High School of Art & Design in Manhattan, and then majored in illustration at the Parsons School of Design. She spent her junior year at The American University in Paris, where she traveled extensively before returning to NYC with an eye toward making her career in illustration. Her early works appeared in The Village Voice and The New York Times Book Review, which eventually segued into her storied career as the art director of several major book publishing companies. In addition to designing book covers, Palacio illustrated several of her own children’s books that were published under her birth name, including Peter Pan: The Original Tale of Neverland; Ride Baby Ride; Look Baby Look; The Night Before Christmas; The Handiest Things in the world; and Last Summer. Palacio also invented a baby toy called The Bobo Glove, a portable, wearable, washable activity toy for infants.

William Alexander writes fantasy, science fiction, and other unrealisms for young readers. Honors include the National Book Award, the Eleanor Cameron Award, two Junior Library Guild Selections, a Mythopoetic Award finalist, an International Latino Book Award finalist, a Cybils Award finalist, and the Earphones Award for audiobook narration. Will is Cuban-American. He studied theater and folklore at Oberlin College, English at the University of Vermont, and creative writing at Clarion. He currently serves as the faculty chair of the VCFA program in Writing for Children and Young Adults and is represented by Marietta B. Zacker of the Gallt & Zacker Literary Agency.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Screen Shot 2019-10-08 at 12.52.44 PMCover Art Designed by Michelle Cunningham. She is a designer at Penguin Random House working on the Middle Grade team. When she’s not playing around with book cover layouts, she’s also a freelance illustrator.

Becoming RBG

Written by: Debbie Levy

Illustrated by: Whitney Gardner

For ages: 10 years and up

Language: English 

Topics Covered: History, Legislation, Women in Leadership, Trailblazers, Historical Figure, Historical Events, Activism, Graphic Novel. 

Summary: This is an AWESOME  graphic novel!  Something we like about it very much is that while it very closely follows the life of the one and only powerhouse Ruth Bader Ginsburg, it also gives an amazing amount of historical context and vocabulary for the reader.  We begin the book with Ruth’s birth and follow her trailblazing journey beyond her appointment to the Supreme Court of the United States.

It was really cool to see Ruth grow up and be unafraid to be seen as smart, capable, and driven the entire time.  The graphic novel was thorough and well-researched.  We learned so much!  Challenging sexism and higher education, RBG saw firsthand the tides of change.  In fact, she was often the one strategizing.  Undoubtedly, Ruth has inspired generations of young people already.  This book is the next iteration, having a graphic novel about historical figures is really neat and brings a new dimension of learning into the equation.

There are a myriad of little details within the book that make it special, like her mother’s ghost that follows her around, reminding her of advice she was once given.  The book emphasizes being a good person with a strong moral compass for doing what’s right, even if it may be hard or scary to stand up for what you believe in.  It does not gloss over the fact that RBG worked constantly and steadfastly to change the world, it did not happen overnight.  The book does not shy away from her legal falters either, it gives a well-rounded storyline of the trials and tribulations of her career.  The graphic novel serves as both an incredible learning tool as well as a call to action for more activism for equality!  RBG is a strong role model for young people, and we are very lucky to still have her around showing us how to rise up and create change.

This book was generously sent to us by Simon and Schuster Kids, but all opinions are our own.

About the Author & the Illustrator:

Debbie Levy writes books—fiction, nonfiction, and poetry—for people of all different ages, and especially for young people. Before starting her writing career, she was a newspaper editor with American Lawyer Media and Legal Times; before that, she was a lawyer with the Washington, D.C. law firm of Wilmer, Cutler & Pickering (now called WilmerHale). She has a bachelor’s degree in government and foreign affairs from the University of Virginia, and a law degree and master’s degree in world politics from the University of Michigan. She lives in Maryland with her husband, Rick Hoffman. They have two grown sons. Besides writing, she loves to kayak, boat, and fish in the Chesapeake Bay region, swim, bowl duckpins, and tramp around the woods. And, of course, she loves to read.

Whitney Gardner is an author and cartoonist who spends most of her time hidden in the Pacific Northwest wrapped in a fuzzy sweater. She brings joy to those who happen to spot her and her suspiciously large feet. Before becoming an author she worked as an art teacher and school librarian where she fell utterly and completely in love with children’s books. In the rare moment Whitney isn’t writing or drawing, she’s likely to be reading comics, knitting, or roasting coffee.

 

Amazons, Abolitionists, and Activists

Written by: Mikki Kendall

Illustrated by: A. D’Amico

For ages: YA older teens (mature topics-violence, assault, enslavement, death)

Language: English 

Topics Covered: Activism, Historic Figures, Historical Fiction, Enslavement, Women’s Rights, Suffrage, Women in Politics, Women in Leadership, Assault, Death, Indigenous Voices, POC-Centric Narratives, Marginalized Populations, Modern Black Freedom Struggle, LGBTQ, Black Feminist Thought. 

Summary: Triple A, how much do I love you?  Let me count the ways.  This book is PHENOMENAL. Like, I opened the envelope and immediately got in bed to read it and stayed up over an hour past my bedtime to finish it.  It is That Good.

This book is the definition of fire, it goes hard and I LOVE IT. This book, besides from being beautifully illustrated, does not shy away from the hardship and inequities faced by marginalized populations throughout history.  It is difficult for me to explain the joy that I feel to find a book that centers the experiences of women of color and celebrates their contributions to nearly every movement throughout history.  We’re history buffs here at The Tiny Activist, and I derived incredible excitement from learning so many new names and accomplishments of badass ladies that came before me.  The book is extremely in-depth and well-researched.  The majority of these names I would feel confident in saying aren’t well-known by most of us nowadays, and this is exactly the book we need right now to inspire a new generation of activists and change makers.

This book is absolutely for teens and above, it does not shy away from the ruthlessness that many leaders exemplified in order to clinch their power and leadership especially in a male-dominated world.  The book begins with a global perspective on ancient societies and the rights of women, focuses in on the USA, and then returns for a global look once again.  Nearly every activist movement is given space in this book, and it is nearly 200 pages.  There are only a few movements not mentioned, the Zapatista’s and the Fat Activist movement are two I can think of offhand, but due to the global overview of the book it can still be considered incredibly comprehensive.  Since it is for an older audience, Triple A doesn’t sugarcoat history, especially the inequities faced by marginalized populations.  It emphasizes the unfairness of Enslavement, Jim Crow laws, and various other historical settlements.  There are a few fabulous two-page illustrations showing women of color fighting monsters with names like “Racism” and “Online Harassment” while white women are floating on clouds, protected from having to do the dirty work.  This. Is. What. We Need.  We need critical reflections on public figures, despite the good that they did for humanity, it often came at the expense of more marginalized populations (ex: the racist views that many white women’s suffrage activists held) Indigenous activism is particularly prevalent, a refreshing and glorious part of this book.  CAN YOU TELL I LOVED IT YET?  Listen, I know we say a lot that books are required for every shelf, but this book is the definition of that phrase.  This graphic novel is creating a new standard for books about feminism, history, and badass ladies.

About the Author & the Illustrator:

PJmm2RUhMikki Kendall is a writer, diversity consultant, and occasional feminist who talks a lot about intersectionality, policing, gender, sexual assault, and other current events. Her nonfiction can be found at Time.com, the Guardian, Washington Post, Ebony, Essence, Salon, XoJane, Bustle, Islamic Monthly and a host of other sites.  Her new book Hood Feminism is coming out in February 25th, 2020 and can be preordered here!

Her media appearances include BBC, NPR, Al Jazeera, WVON, WBEZ, TWIB, and Showtime.

Her fiction has been published through Revelator magazine and Torquere Press.

Her comics work can be found in the Swords of Sorrow anthology, the Princeless charity anthology, and in the CCAD anthology of 2016.  She has acted as a diversity consultant for writers of fiction, playwrights, fan conventions, and several organizations.

DAmico-headshot-2019Aster D’Amico is a Queer Illustrator living near Ann Arbor, Michigan, who loves all things tea, historical fashion, and fantasy! She enjoys writing and illustrating comics, which Aster finds to be an incredibly powerful vehicle for storytelling; her main medium of choice is Digital, but also very much loves using watercolor and Ink Wash.

D’Amico graduated with a BFA in Illustration and a minor in Creative Writing from the Columbus College of Art & Design in 2016, and have been freelancing since.

 

 

Laura Dean Keeps Breaking Up With Me

Written by: Mariko Tamaki

Illustrated by: Rosemary Valero-O’Connell

For ages: YA graphic novel

Language: English

Topics Covered: LGBTQ Relationships, Love, Friendship, Social-Emotional Development.

Summary: Super quick read, I read this in about an hour!  The story is told from the perspective of Freddy, a biracial Asian teenage girl.  Freddy is hopelessly in love with Laura Dean, her on-again off-again unfaithful girlfriend.  Laura is a suave, blond, Shane-esque (from the L-Word) character who seems to like Freddy, but not enough to not continuously cheat on her with other girls.  To the reader, it is clear that Laura keeps Freddy around for when Laura doesn’t have plans, or is bored.  She is cocky and flirtatious, often found having trysts in closets with other girls.  In attempt to clarify what the relationship means, Freddy writes to a love advice columnist for help.  These emails are interspersed within the scenes of daily life with Freddy, her best friend Doodle (who is going through her own emotional issues unbeknownst to Freddy), and a few other queer friends.

As Freddy navigates life, and makes a new queer friend that invites her to a party, Freddy also invites Laura.  Laura never answers her texts, but Freddy sees her at the party kissing another girl.  Finally, Doodle calls Freddy out and gets honest with Freddy about how she has been ignoring their friendship because of Laura.  Doodle has slept with a married man, and is planning to get an abortion.  This is a really great story, getting to the quick of the emotional complexities that often accompany relationships and their impact on friendships.  It is a relief to be able to read queer stories where everyone is already out, and the focus can be on other nuances of the story-line rather than the coming out process itself.  Highly recommend!

About the Author & the Illustrator:

81ve7-jjPwL._US230_Mariko Tamaki is the author of the YA novel Saving Montgomery Sole and the co-creator of award winning comics This One Summer and Skim (with Jillian Tamaki), and Emiko Superstar (Steve Rolston). In 2015, This One Summer received Printz and Caldecott Honors, the Eisner for Best Graphic Album–New, and Canada’s Governor General’s award. Mariko maintains a solid fascination with the complex process by which teenagers become, or try to become, grown ups.

She has also written for BOOM! Studios, Marvel, and DC Comics, working with She-Hulk and Supergirl.

Mariko Tamaki began her career as a playwright and performance artist in Toronto, Ontario, working with fat activists Pretty, Porky and Pissed Off and performing and writing plays for Buddies in Bad Times Theater, a world leader in developing queer voices for the stage.  Her first film, “Happy 16th Birthday, Kevin,” premiered at the Inside Out Festival in 2013.

In addition to her literary work, Mariko holds a Master’s in Women’s Studies and worked for two years on a doctorate in Linguistic Anthropology.  Her academic research focused on accents used in drag cabaret performances.  Her research inspired an ongoing obsession with the way people talk. You can follow her on Twitter.

RVORosemary Valero-O’Connell is a cartoonist and illustrator with a BFA in Comic Art from the Minneapolis College of Art and Design. She was raised in Zaragoza, Spain, but now lives in a little apartment in the ice and snow of Minnesota, self-publishing her books and working as a freelance illustrator and comic artist. Rosemary’s work has been featured in comics anthologies, in galleries, and on many poster designs for MONDO. Rosemary’s one-shot comic What Is Left (ShortBox) was recently nominated for two Eisner Awards: Best Single Issue and Best Coloring. Rosemary is currently working on the upcoming Mariko Tamaki (Skim, This One Summer) graphic novel Laura Dean Keeps Breaking Up With Me for First Second. With her intelligent designs and heartfelt storytelling, this young artist has a bright future ahead.

The Love and Lies of Rukhsana Ali

Written by: Sabina Khan

Cover Art by:

For ages: YA book

Language: English

Topics Covered: LGBTQ, Family, Marriage, Independence, Love, Acceptance, LGBTQ Violence, Homophobia, Bangladeshi Culture & Traditions.

Summary: I could NOT put this book down.  I was instantly hooked.  Warning: you will feel ALL the emotions during this read.

Rukhsana is a teenager, just a few months away from graduation.  Rukhsana’s parents are Bangladeshi, and very strict.  They have no idea that she is dating a white girl named Ariana.  Rukhsana’s parents in fact, would love to arrange a marriage for her but Rukhsana is able to secure a full ride to CalTech for physics and bide some time before that happens.  However, one day Ariana is over and Rukhsana’s mother catches them kissing.  All of a sudden, she is whisked away to Bangladesh to visit her “ailing grandmother”, but then ulterior motives are uncovered and Rukhsana is informed she is not allowed to leave the country until she agrees to a formal engagement with a suitable husband-to-be.  After a botched escape plan where Rukhsana’s passport hiding place is discovered and a tumultuous fight with Ariana over the phone, she feels alone and defeated.  Rukhsana is then informed she must be married before leaving the country, locked in a room, and a shaman is called to perform an exorcism of the bad spirit (jinn) that is making her act so disobedient.  Then Rukhsana meets someone named Sohail, a boy whose parents are pushing for him to get married.  But it turns out, he’s already dating someone…someone handsome that lives in the United States.  Sohail and Rukhsana hatch a plan to feign an engagement and then flee before the wedding where they will part ways and link back up with their partners.  Sohail is also a famous blogger, but he writes about what is wrong with Bangladesh and calls for reform-specifically with the anti-LGBT policies currently in place.  He has thousands of weekly readers but is also being followed by extremists known for violence.  When eating lunch together in a cafe, some thugs sit near the pair to intimidate Sohail.  He quickly wraps up lunch and they finish eating in his office, laughing off the incident.

When the day of the wedding ceremony comes, Rukhsana plans to sneak out of her family’s home into a taxi with her younger brother and go to the airport.  Sohail will do the same and they will catch the flight together.  When Rukhsana arrives, Sohail is late.  She waits as long as she can, but gets on the plane alone and makes the long trek back to America, where some friends pick her up and let her stay at their house.  When Rukhsana finally turns her phone back on, she has many missed calls and voicemails from her parents.  Thinking that they are angry at her for skipping out on the expensive wedding, she ignores them and takes a few days to attempt emotional healing from the extreme trauma and duress that she has just endured over the last few months stuck in Bangladesh.  Her friends sit her down, and tell her she needs to listen to the messages.  Sohail is dead.  On the way to the airport he is murdered viciously with a machete by the thugs, because he is gay.

I won’t spoil the ending, but just know that it will wrench your heart from the very depths inside your soul and be impossible to put down.  I was reading it through tears, enraptured at the emotional complexity of the characters, and the growth of Rukhsana throughout this life-changing endeavor that she found herself inextricably linked to, unable to escape.

About the Author & the Illustrator:

sabina-profileSabina Khan is the author of THE LOVE & LIES OF RUKHSANA ALI, a YA Contemporary, was released Spring 2019 from Scholastic. She is an educational consultant and a karaoke enthusiast. After living in Germany, Bangladesh, Macao, Illinois and Texas, she has finally settled down in beautiful British Columbia, Canada, with her husband and three daughters, one of whom is a fur baby.