Codes for Reviews

First Initial (Overall Rating):
E = Exceptional
VG = Very Good
G = Good
F = Fair
NR = Not Recommended

Second Initital (Reading Level):
A = Average Reading Level
E = Easy
M = Mature

“The views expressed are of individuals and do not necessarily reflect the views of their respective institutions.”

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Tuesday, August 6, 2019

Let Me Hear a Rhyme by Tiffany D. Jackson

High School Fiction

VG/M. Jackson, Tiffany. Let me hear a rhyme.  Katherine Tegen Books, 2019. 380p. 978-0-06-284032-5. 17.99.

It’s the summer of ’98, and rather than heading off to Coney Island to enjoy the beach and fireworks like they always do right before the school year starts, Quadir and Jarrell are instead attending their best friend’s funeral.  To others, Steph may have just been another nameless victim of street violence, but to them he was their brother, someone they could always count on to have their back. However, as close as they were, Quadir and Jarrell are still surprised to find the depth of Steph’s musical talent.  When they discover his prerecorded music, they approach Jasmine, Steph’s sister, with an outrageous plan.  The three decide to promote Steph’s music under the alias “The Architect”, pretending Steph is still alive in order to get him signed onto a record label. Jasmine agrees, only if the two help her uncover the truth about her brother’s murder.  The stakes are high for the all three, and the situation ever more dangerous as they move closer to the truth.  Will they be able to help Steph achieve his dreams even after death and find justice for him? For fans of Angie Thomas. Recommended for all YA collections.

Camille Campos, LAPL, Benjamin Franklin Branch Library 

Stepsister by Jennifer Donnelly

High School Fiction

VG/A. Donnelly, Jennifer. Stepsister. Scholastic Press, 2019. 342p. 978-1-338-26846-1. 17.99.
Stepsister is Donnelly’s darker and more nuanced reimagining of the classic fairy tale of Cinderella, told from the point of view of the “ugly stepsister”. Isabella may be considered ugly, but she’s fierce and strong of will. Isabella was also good and brave once upon a time, and she, Octavia or “Tavi”, and Ella were once friends. What happened to the three that made them so jealous and resentful of each other?  Now that Ella has married the prince, Isabella and Tavi, are left behind to deal with the derision and scorn of the villagers in the aftermath of their desperate and failed attempt to marry the prince. When the girls and their mother lose their home, they are forced to beg for a place to stay, finding work in the fields of a nearby farm.  Isabella can’t help but think that if only she were pretty, her life would be easier. Isabella meets the same fairy queen Tanaquill, who had helped Ella, but instead of giving Isabella gifts of a carriage and beautiful gown, only agrees to help Isabella, if she can find the missing pieces of her heart.  Isabella has to unravel the riddle, and in doing so, rediscover herself and forge her own path lest, she forever remain known as the ugly stepsister. Recommended for YA collections.

Camille Campos, LAPL, Benjamin Franklin Branch Library

Thursday, May 9, 2019

New Kid by Jerry Craft

E/A. Craft, Jerry. New Kid.  Harper, 2019. 249p. 978-0-06-269120-0. 21.99.

Middle Grade Graphic Novel

Jordan Banks loves to draw, and he wants nothing more than to start his 7th grade year at an art
school, but his mom has other plans. Instead, she wants him to attend a prestigious private
school—Riverdale Academy Day School.  His father is worried that there is not enough
diversity at this new school, and sure enough, Jordan is only one of the few diverse kids
at Riverdale. It’s difficult enough to be in middle school, but to be a new kid at a middle
school where the other kids are very privileged, who vacation in places like Aspen or
the Adirondacks, where the teacher confuses your name with other African American
boys, and even the librarian thinks that the only books that would appeal to you are the
gritty problem novels. Jordan can’t help but feel like an outsider, lost and alone, as he
tries to get through his classes, make new friends while staying clear of upperclassmen
and bullies, and generally trying to survive the school year until he can convince his mom
to send him to art school. This singular graphic novel is full of insight and humor, and
definitely answers the call for #weneeddiversebooks. For fans of Jeff Kinney and Raina
Telgemeier. Must-have for all general YA collections.

Camille Campos, LAPL, Benjamin Franklin Branch Library