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A High School Student Reviews CONCRETE ROSE by Angie Thomas

I was very fortunate to receive an advanced reader’s copy of CONCRETE ROSE by Angie Thomas in the mail. My teenage daughter read it, and loved it, but I wanted to reach out to a friend who has been working hard at her high school to get her students reading and I knew that they were huge fans of Angie Thomas. So with her help, we have a student review of Concrete Rose by Angie Thomas. This review is coming to you today from Aaliyah, a senior.

Concrete Rose Angie Thomas https://app.asana.com/0/1135954362417873/1168658175790681/f

Angie Thomas always has a way of captivating readers’ minds and sucking them in with her storylines and moving words. As we read in The Hate U Give, each character stood out on their own by their powerful stories. But Maverick Carter, Starr’s father, captured the hearts of many readers.

The Hate U Give gave readers a glance into the life that Maverick Carter had to live in the Garden and Starr’s point of view on his trials and tribulations. Concrete Rose gives the readers the chance to understand the real background behind the story of Garden Heights and the questions that plenty of us had about the real Maverick Carter. Concrete Rose explains the journey that Maverick had to endure in the Garden to become a real man. Angie has a way of entangling her stories with real life events that the reader is able to relate to. For Maverick Carter, life hasn’t always been easy. As the son of a former gang legend, Mav does the only thing he was taught to do: dealing for the King Lords in order to provide and keep the bills paid in his home with his mother. His mother worked two jobs while his father was incarcerated, but for Mav that was normal; he had to do what he had to do in order to survive. Through the bad, Mav had his “Fresh-to-death” girlfriend and Brother-like cousin by his side; he was in control of everything in his life. But life always has surprises, and Mav’s surprise was the newfound information of becoming a teen father by someone who wasn’t his girlfriend. Mav’s Life changes drastically as he deals with having a son while trying to balance life as a King Lord, finish school, and be the best father he can be to Seven.

Life teaches lessons to Maverick in many forms. Being a teen father, part of a gang, and finishing school can be stressful to any average teen. As a Black teen myself, I have encountered similar obstacles that life has thrown at me in different ways. As a Black teen though, the standards set out for us are to become a minority in society and to fail. Concrete Rose gives different perspectives of Black teens and their journeys to adulthood and the limitations that are put on us by society at a young age. The future is unpredictable, and when the characters are put in the position to decide their fate it reveals the unlawful truths that society has set for them. With societal norms against Mav–Loyalty, Love, Revenge, and Responsibility become a battle in Mavericks life to become the man he needs to be for his family. Societal norms that are formed against Maverick and the other Black teens in the novel to become a failure to society create a force of motivation to beat the odds of Garden Heights that are set against them.  The novel opens up about the societal problems within a Black teens life, the Black community, and a look at a Black family who’s not perfect nor the ideal look but full of love and open arms.

Angie Thomas’ words always leave a mark in my mind about the reality of society and the world we live in. The book holds a powerful meaning and definition of the oppression many Black men face on a daily basis all over the world and the unimaginable events that occur in our neighborhoods. It’s clear that race is still a big problem in America today, and it may be a never ending problem that we will face for years to come.  Growing up in a world where there are unwritten rules for a Black child to go by from birth just to survive in America shows the discrimination and the targets that are put on African Americans from the minute we take our first breath.  We shouldn’t be obligated or responsible for the undoing of someone else’s ignorance and harmful ways and feelings. We also shouldn’t have to deal with violence within our own neighborhoods done by mislead people who fight for their image and worth in this world. Concrete Rose addresses gang violence and calls out the Black on Black crime in our communities by showing different ways these crimes are performed and the void that they create. 

Reading Concrete Rose allowed me to understand that we are not alone in this inhumane society, that I am in control of my destiny, and to use this voice that I was given to show that I will not go unheard in a world where I am supposed to be silenced. Yes, Black lives matter all the time, but the Mavericks in America especially matter to me.Hopefully, they matter to you, too.

Publisher’s Book Description:

International phenomenon Angie Thomas revisits Garden Heights seventeen years before the events of The Hate U Give in this searing and poignant exploration of Black boyhood and manhood.

If there’s one thing seventeen-year-old Maverick Carter knows, it’s that a real man takes care of his family. As the son of a former gang legend, Mav does that the only way he knows how: dealing for the King Lords. With this money he can help his mom, who works two jobs while his dad’s in prison.

Life’s not perfect, but with a fly girlfriend and a cousin who always has his back, Mav’s got everything under control.

Until, that is, Maverick finds out he’s a father.

Suddenly he has a baby, Seven, who depends on him for everything. But it’s not so easy to sling dope, finish school, and raise a child. So when he’s offered the chance to go straight, he takes it. In a world where he’s expected to amount to nothing, maybe Mav can prove he’s different.

When King Lord blood runs through your veins, though, you can’t just walk away. Loyalty, revenge, and responsibility threaten to tear Mav apart, especially after the brutal murder of a loved one. He’ll have to figure out for himself what it really means to be a man. 

Concrete Rose by Angie Thomas releases tomorrow, January 12th, from Balzer + Bray

Friday Finds: January 8, 2021

This Week at TLT

Book Review: Be Dazzled by Ryan La Sala

Post-It Reviews: Black Canary, hand-crafted dreams, and books set in the 1960s and 1980s

Cindy Crushes Programming: Random Fandom, a Conversation with Linden Galloway, by Teen Librarian Cindy Shutts

Rescuing and Celebrating Black Women’s Voices, an interview with Nikki Grimes

Book Review: Legacy: Women Poets of the Harlem Renaissance by Nikki Grimes

Take 5: Five Links of Interest for YA Readers – New YA for 2021

Riley’s Post It Note Reviews: These Vengeful Hearts, Down Comes the Night and Pumpkin

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Lehigh University Revokes President Trump’s Honorary Degree

The U.S. Capitol Insurrection Does Not Mean We Need More Policing

Book Review: Be Dazzled by Ryan La Sala

Publisher’s description

Project Runway goes to Comic Con in an epic queer love story about creativity, passion, and finding the courage to be your most authentic self.

Raffy has a passion for bedazzling. Not just bedazzling, but sewing, stitching, draping, pattern making—for creation. He’s always chosen his art over everything—and everyone—else and is determined to make his mark at this year’s biggest cosplay competition. If he can wow there, it could lead to sponsorship, then art school, and finally earning real respect for his work. There’s only one small problem… Raffy’s ex-boyfriend, Luca, is his main competition.

Raffy tried to make it work with Luca. They almost made the perfect team last year after serendipitously meeting in the rhinestone aisle at the local craft store—or at least Raffy thought they did. But Luca’s insecurities and Raffy’s insistence on crafting perfection caused their relationship to crash and burn. Now, Raffy is after the perfect comeback, one that Luca can’t ruin.

But when Raffy is forced to partner with Luca on his most ambitious build yet, he’ll have to juggle unresolved feelings for the boy who broke his heart, and his own intense self-doubt, to get everything he’s ever wanted: choosing his art, his way.

Amanda’s thoughts

This book was a lot of fun. Yes, there was depth and drama and romance, but ultimately, it was the good fun that won me over. I was able to totally get wrapped up in Raffy’s world of crafting and cosplay and feel like I was right there at the con, witnessing everything unfold. What more can you ask for than for a book to take you away from reality and show you a different time and place?

There’s a lot going on in this story. Raffy’s super snobby artist/gallery director mom is horrible for most of the story. Never mind that he seems to mostly be raising and caring for himself while she disappears repeatedly to go do Important Things; she’s really awful because she actively does not support his interests and belittles his talent and ambitions. But Raffy doesn’t let her awfulness deter him—he continues to work in secret on all his builds and his social media. He’s hoping to get a sponsorship deal at some point to help pay for art school. His mother, of course, doesn’t think people should go to school at all, much less ART school—her being a snob extends to her looking down on formal arts education. Sure.

The now/then format of the story shows us how he got together with Luca, a bisexual soccer bro who’s a secret nerd, and how it all dramatically fell apart. In the “now” time, we’re at the con with them, watching them compete against each other until—TWIST!—they team up to work together.

They’re an easy couple to root for. Raffy’s total Type A personality and obsession with working on his crafting gets in the way of having a really good relationship. Luca has to keep lots of things about his time with Raffy secret, mainly from his family. But they really are into each other and are so cute together. And once they end up working together at the con, it’s easy to see how they will be able to overcome their past problems.

Full of messages about hiding yourself, authenticity, identity, being in costume to really be seen, trust, creation, and accomplishment, this fun read has wide appeal. Make sure the cosplay fans in your life get their hands on this!

Review copy (ARC) courtesy of the publisher

ISBN-13: 9781492682691
Publisher: Sourcebooks
Publication date: 01/05/2021
Age Range: 14 – 18 Years

Post-It Reviews: Black Canary, hand-crafted dreams, and books set in the 1960s and 1980s

Post-it Note Reviews are a great way to display books in your library or classroom, a way to let kids recommend their favorite titles without having to get up in front of everyone and do a book talk, and an easy way to offer a more personal recommendation than just the flap copy offers. Doing these short reviews would also be a great way to share more books during distance learning!

All descriptions from the publishers. Transcriptions of the Post-It notes are below each description.

Black Canary: Breaking Silence by Alexandra Monir (ISBN-13: 9780593178317 Publisher: Random House Children’s Books Publication date: 12/29/2020 Series: DC Icons Series, Ages 12+)

In this thrilling origin story of Black Canary, Dinah Lance’s voice is her weapon. And in a near-future world where women have no rights, she won’t hesitate to use everything she has—including her song—to fight back.

Dinah Lance was eight years old when she overheard the impossible: the sound of a girl singing. It was something she was never meant to hear—not in her lifetime and not in Gotham City, taken over by the vicious, patriarchal Court of Owls. The sinister organization rules Gotham City as a dictatorship and has stripped women of everything—their right to work, to make music, to learn, to be free.

Now seventeen, Dinah can’t forget that haunting sound, and she’s beginning to discover that her own voice is just as powerful. But singing is forbidden—a one-way route to a certain death sentence. Fighting to balance her father’s desire to keep her safe, a blossoming romance with mysterious new student Oliver Queen, and her own need to help other women and girls rise up, Dinah wonders if her song will finally be heard. And will her voice be powerful enough to destroy the Court of Owls once and for all?

(POST-IT SAYS: Well, now I need to read the others in this DC Icons series. A compelling story of resistance, oppression, politics, feminism, rebellion, and revolution. A good story about finding your voice!)

Clues to the Universe by Christina Li (ISBN-13: 9780063008885 Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers Publication date: 01/12/2021, Ages 8-12)

This #ownvoices debut about losing and finding family, forging unlikely friendships, and searching for answers to big questions will resonate with fans of Erin Entrada Kelly and Rebecca Stead.

The only thing Rosalind Ling Geraghty loves more than watching NASA launches with her dad is building rockets with him. When he dies unexpectedly, all Ro has left of him is an unfinished model rocket they had been working on together.

Benjamin Burns doesn’t like science, but he can’t get enough of Spacebound, a popular comic book series. When he finds a sketch that suggests that his dad created the comics, he’s thrilled. Too bad his dad walked out years ago, and Benji has no way to contact him.

Though Ro and Benji were only supposed to be science class partners, the pair become unlikely friends: Benji helps Ro finish her rocket, and Ro figures out a way to reunite Benji and his dad. But Benji hesitates, which infuriates Ro. Doesn’t he realize how much Ro wishes she could be in his place?

As the two face bullying, grief, and their own differences, Benji and Ro must try to piece together clues to some of the biggest questions in the universe.

(POST-IT SAYS: This 1980s-set story about loss, family, friendship, and exploration is a great recommendation for readers who like quiet, emotional, character-driven reads. A good pick for those who like sad but not too sad books.)

The Nightmare Thief by Nicole Lesperance, Federica Fenna (Illustrator) (ISBN-13: 9781728215341 Publisher: Sourcebooks Publication date: 01/12/2021 Series: Nightmare Thief Series , #1, Ages 8-13)

For fans of A Snicker of Magic and The Miscalculations of Lightning Girl comes a suspenseful dark fantasy duology, perfect for middle school readers that love stories of magic and sisterhood with a dash of danger.

Maren Partridge loves working in her family’s dream shop where she can hand-craft any dream imaginable. The shop has only one rule. Dreams cannot be given to a person without their consent. Maren has no problem with this—until her sister, Hallie, has an accident that leaves her in a coma. Maren’s certain she can cure Hallie with a few well-chosen dreams. And when no one is watching, she slips her a flying dream.

But a strange new customer from the shop has been following Maren and knows what she did. Now she’s laid the perfect trap to blackmail Maren into creating custom nightmares for a dark and terrible purpose. As Maren gets drawn further into the sinister scheme, she must make a choice: to protect her family or to protect the town from her family’s magic.

(POST-IT SAYS: It will be easy to recommend this one widely. A town full of magic, a villain, interesting characters to root for, and just enough scary stuff to keep readers a bit on edge. Good fun!)

Just Like That by Gary D. Schmidt (ISBN-13: 9780544084773 Publisher: HMH Books Publication date: 01/05/2021, Ages 10-14)

In this poignant, perceptive, witty novel, Gary D. Schmidt brings authenticity and emotion to multiple plot strands, weaving in themes of grief, loss, redemption, achievement, and love. Following the death of her closest friend in summer 1968, Meryl Lee Kowalski goes off to St. Elene’s Preparatory Academy for Girls, where she struggles to navigate the venerable boarding school’s traditions and a social structure heavily weighted toward students from wealthy backgrounds. In a parallel story, Matt Coffin has wound up on the Maine coast near St. Elene’s with a pillowcase full of money lifted from the leader of a criminal gang, fearing the gang’s relentless, destructive pursuit. Both young people gradually dispel their loneliness, finding a way to be hopeful and also finding each other.

(POST-IT SAYS: Perfection in book form. Though filled with grief, sadness, and violence, this is such a warm, hopeful story of love, survival, and family in its many forms. A sensitive and thoughtful look at loss and moving forward.)

Cindy Crushes Programming: Random Fandom, a Conversation with Linden Galloway, by Teen Librarian Cindy Shutts

Hello All, I am here with my coworker Linden Galloway. We are going to talk about a fun program Linden came up with called Random Fandom.

We did not have a lot of people the first time but the teens who came were so excited that we want to do this program again!

Cindy: Linden, how did you come up with the idea?

Linden: Everyone has a fandom soapbox to stand on, and I think teens don’t get the chance to share their thoughts often enough. I came up with questions like “What’s your favorite fandom trope?” and “Which character would you most like to cosplay?” to start conversations on fandom with the teens and encourage them to speak their minds. My fellow teen librarian came up with the title Random Fandom for my program idea, and from there I thought it would be fun to randomize the questions by rolling a 20-sided die.

Cindy: I loved how many conversations were started during this program.  I really love talking fandoms with the teens. What fandoms did you think our teens were most interested in?

Linden: Before the program, I thought the teens would be into a lot of fantasy books and shows, since I know the teens at my branch love Dungeons and Dragons. As it turns out, the teens who attended LOVE anime, which is awesome because we have tons of upcoming anime programs that we got to tell them about!

Cindy: My favorite question was what fandom shaped your morals. What were your favorite questions we asked the teens?

Linden: When I asked “What or who got you into fandom?” It was really funny because the teens who attended were siblings, and both claimed to have gotten the other started on anime! I was really excited to ask them “What’s the most underrated/overhyped fandom?” because a lot of people have strong opinions on that topic.

Cindy: What Tips would you give to librarians trying this program?

Linden: Attendance has not been high for most of our programs on Zoom, so if I did this program again I would definitely market it in a more targeted way. There are plenty of places teens who are into fandom might go in person and see a flier, so for a virtual program I would think about virtual spaces where teens might like to find information on Random Fandom.

Cindy: That is so true. It is hard to get teens to zoom. We know there is zoom burnout happening. Thank you Linden for chatting with me.

Program overview: Use a 20 sided dice and answer the fandom based that corresponds with the number on the dice. We had twenty premade questions ready to go. This is a discussion based program.

Cindy Shutts, MLIS

Cindy is passionate about teen services. She loves dogs, pro-wrestling, Fairy tales, mythology, and of course reading. Her favorite books are The Hate U Give, Catching FIre, The Royals, and everything by Cindy Pon. She loves spending times with her dog Harry Winston and her niece and nephew. Cindy Shutts is the Teen Services Librarian at the White Oak Library District in IL and she’ll be joining us to talk about teen programming. You can follow her on Twitter at @cindysku.

Rescuing and Celebrating Black Women’s Voices, an interview with Nikki Grimes

Today we are thrilled to have Nikki Grimes join us for an interview about her wonderful new book LEGACY: WOMEN POETS OF THE HARLEM RENAISSANCE.

Tell us a little about the research you did to rescue and celebrate Black women’s voices from the Harlem Renaissance era.  Did you discover new-to-you poets?

NG: The research work for Legacy actually began with One Last Word

Those sources included a deep dive into Voices in the Poetic Tradition, edited by Henry Louis Gates, Jr. (1996), for starters.  I raided my own library for collections by each poet, found others referenced online, found copies of previously published, as well as unpublished manuscripts by a few poets through the miracle of interlibrary loan and the able assistance of a librarian—what would we do without librarians?

I mentioned this research on social media, and someone suggested I take a look at Shadowed Dreams: Women’s Poetry of the Harlem Renaissance edited by Maureen Honey.  This valuable resource led me to a few new-to-me women poets like Esther Popel and Clarissa Scott Delaney who died young, and only published four poems in her career, but what poems they were! In all, I read maybe a dozen poetry collections, plus anthologies, and biographies, and searched out individual poems and poets online, as well.

I found the stories of these women as inspiring as their poetry, and I knew young readers would, as well.  I was grateful my publisher made ample space for longer than usual biographies of each poet.  These poets included women who were among the first African American women to earn PhDs. They were well-traveled educators, social activists, editors, librarians, and directors of cultural institutes at a time in the early in the 20th century when little was expected of Black people, women especially.  I wanted young readers to have models of what is possible.

Strong themes of self, community and the earth prevail throughout all the poems in this book, as well as the unsurprising thread of hope (that I think is always found in your writing). Did you see other common themes emerge?

NG: I think there was a real celebration of life, throughout, even in the midst of heartache, of pain.  These poems all ended in a place of “Yes!”

The obvious and perhaps reductive answer to this question is probably “racism and sexism,” but why do you think so many gifted Black women poets from this era are overlooked?  As you said in your book, many people can readily name men who are Harlem Renaissance poets, but not women.

NG: Women always fall out of the narrative, almost right before our eyes!  If we want women to be paid attention to, it usually requires a woman to lift them up.  That’s true in the sciences, the arts—name any arena.  And we have to lift women up again and again.  The poets I’ve brought to the fore were not first discovered by me.  They were discovered, or rediscovered, by the academics who edited some of the dense, annotated, special collections I used for my research.  But few middle graders, or even casual adult readers, will go looking for these women in academic tomes, or on library microfiche, or on the shelves of the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture.  They will, however, pick up a beautifully illustrated collection of golden shovel poetry that highlights some of these women.  That’s my job.

I love the Golden Shovel format that you use here, and that you used in One Last Word. It helps create such a powerful connection between the source work and your own poems—they can be in conversation with each other and show ties to themes and feelings across the years.  What is it you like about this form and explain the form a bit to our readers.

NG: The Golden Shovel form in one in which you borrow a line or more from an existing poem, line those words up in the right margin, and then write new lines, each ending in one of the words from the original poem.  The new poem you write may be on the same theme, or it may be on an entirely different theme.  The choice is yours.

I love this form because it feels like literary sculpture.  The clay I start with are the few words I’ve borrowed from another poet.  I add in a few more words of my own, and start molding away.  I don’t quite know what the final image will be until it reveals itself.  It’s the not-knowing, the backwards puzzle-of-it-all that excites me.  With Golden Shovel poetry, anything seems possible!  Ten people could borrow the same line, the same handful of words and end up with entirely different poems, different messages, different points-of-view, each relating to the source poem in its own way.

In addition to your Golden Shovel poems in response to the original poems, the artwork is such a wonderful way to add dimension to the writing.  How did you pair artists with poems?

NG: I didn’t.  I worked on my dream list of artists, then we invited them to choose the poem that spoke to them.  The earlier an artist signed on, the more available poems she had to choose from.

This collection has certainly made me want to go seek out more of the works of these women.  Do you have favorite resources you discovered while researching to recommend (a great anthology, a fantastic website, etc.)?  What about recommendations of contemporary Black women poets?

NG: I already mentioned Shadowed Dreams: Women’s Poetry of the Harlem Renaissance edited by Maureen Honey.  That would be a great one to start with.  I also loved Black Nature: Four Centuries of African American Nature Poetry edited by Camille T. Dungy, poetryfoundation.org is also a great place to search.  Two of my favorite Black women poets left the earth in the past few years, but their work is evergreen: Lucille Clifton and Mari Evans.  Other poets on my radar—not necessary for young readers, though—are Patricia Smith, Natasha Trethewey, Nikky Finney, Rita Dove and Toi Derricotte.  Really there are almost too many.  It’s a great problem!

I noted so many poems that stood out to me as I read and took notes but was particularly moved by Esther Popel’s “Flag Salute” and your “A Mother’s Lament.”  Do you have a favorite poem from this collection?

NG: Yes, “Flag Salute” got me, too!  It’s a powerful piece.  And I’m a sucker for Gwendolyn Bennett, so I love “Advice.”  But I think my favorite might be “Joy” by Clarissa Scott Delany which begins, “Joy shakes me like a wind that lifts a sail.”  She’s given us such a powerful, visceral, beautiful image—not of rage, or pain, or some dark emotion, but of joy!  I love that! 

What projects are you working on or are coming out soon? 

NG: The picture book Off to See the Sea, a bath time book, comes out a week after Legacy, and I have two nature-themed picture book projects in the works, and am gearing up for work on a new middle grade novel.  Never a dull moment!

Meet Nikki Grimes

Photo credit: Aaron Lemen

Nikki Grimes is a New York Times bestselling author and  the recipient of the Children’s Literature Legacy Award, the Virginia Hamilton Literary Award, and the NCTE Award for Excellence in Poetry for  Children. Her distinguished works include Southwest Sunrise, illustrated by Wendell Minor; the Printz Honor and Sibert Honor book Ordinary Hazards; NAACP Image Award nominee  Planet Middle School; Coretta Scott King Award winner Bronx Masquerade; Coretta Scott King Author Honor books Jazmin’s Notebook, Talkin’ About Bessie, Dark Sons, The Road to Paris, and Words with Wings, which was also named an ALA Notable Book; and What Is Goodbye?, an ALA Notable Book. She lives in Corona, California. www.nikkigrimes.com, Twitter: @nikkigrimes9

About Legacy: Women Poets of the Harlem Renaissance

From Children’s Literature Legacy Award-winning author Nikki Grimes comes a feminist-forward new collection of poetry celebrating the little-known women poets of the Harlem Renaissance—paired with full-color, original art from today’s most talented female African-American illustrators.

For centuries, accomplished women—of all races—have fallen out of the historical records. The same is true for gifted, prolific, women poets of the Harlem Renaissance who are little known, especially as compared to their male counterparts. 

In this poetry collection, bestselling author Nikki Grimes uses “The Golden Shovel” poetic method to create wholly original poems based on the works of these groundbreaking women-and to introduce readers to their work. 

Each poem is paired with one-of-a-kind art from today’s most exciting female African-American illustrators, including: Vanessa Brantley-Newton, Cozbi Cabrera, Pat Cummings, Nina Crews, Laura Freeman, Jan Spivey Gilchrist, Ebony Glenn, April Harrison, Ekua Holmes, Keisha Morrison, Daria Peoples-Riley, Andrea Pippins, Shadra Strickland, and Elizabeth Zunon.

Legacy also includes a foreword, an introduction to the history of the Harlem Renaissance, author’s note, and poet biographies, which make this a wonderful resource and a book to cherish.

ISBN-13: 9781681199443
Publisher: Bloomsbury USA
Publication date: 01/05/2021
Age Range: 10 – 14 Years

Book Review: Legacy: Women Poets of the Harlem Renaissance by Nikki Grimes

Publisher’s description

From Children’s Literature Legacy Award-winning author Nikki Grimes comes a feminist-forward new collection of poetry celebrating the little-known women poets of the Harlem Renaissance—paired with full-color, original art from today’s most talented female African-American illustrators.

For centuries, accomplished women—of all races—have fallen out of the historical records. The same is true for gifted, prolific, women poets of the Harlem Renaissance who are little known, especially as compared to their male counterparts. 

In this poetry collection, bestselling author Nikki Grimes uses “The Golden Shovel” poetic method to create wholly original poems based on the works of these groundbreaking women-and to introduce readers to their work. 

Each poem is paired with one-of-a-kind art from today’s most exciting female African-American illustrators, including: Vanessa Brantley-Newton, Cozbi Cabrera, Pat Cummings, Nina Crews, Laura Freeman, Jan Spivey Gilchrist, Ebony Glenn, April Harrison, Ekua Holmes, Keisha Morrison, Daria Peoples-Riley, Andrea Pippins, Shadra Strickland, and Elizabeth Zunon.

Legacy also includes a foreword, an introduction to the history of the Harlem Renaissance, author’s note, and poet biographies, which make this a wonderful resource and a book to cherish.

Amanda’s thoughts

I thought maybe I’d read a few poems in between reading other things. I did not do that. Instead, I read the entire book in one go, went back to read favorites, and started googling the writers I learned about in this book. How is it that my undergrad degrees are in English and Women’s Studies, and I took multiple classes on women poets, American literature, AND Harlem Renaissance writers and knew none of these names?! Thank goodness this book showed up to teach me.

Grimes set out to rescue and celebrate the voices of Black women poets of the Harlem Renaissance era and did a phenomenal job with this collection. A preface talks about how many men writing in this era were (and are) well-known, but gifted, prolific women were overlooked and forgotten. These women were not just poets but also editors of literary magazines and anthologies and played large roles in what was happening at this time. Grimes teaches readers a little bit about the Harlem Renaissance, like the conditions, movements, and ethos of the time. She explains the roles played by the Great Migration, the Nineteenth Amendment, women pursuing education, Black-owned newspapers/literary magazines/journals, and the new literati. All of this lays a foundation for the poems and illustrations that follow.

As she did in One Last Word, Grimes uses the Golden Shovel form here, creating new poems from a short poem or line from a poem. She presents the original work, then presents her own poem in conversation with that (using the Golden Shovel form), and then an illustration follows. Taken all together, these three elements create a stunning picture that shows so much power and emotion. I started noting which poems were my favorite as I took notes and ended up with nearly a dozen that really stuck with me. These poems are full of pain, power, pride, feminism, hope, community, identity, and strength. They deserve to be widely known.

The collection includes extensive resources, poet and artist biographies, and sources. This beautiful and moving collection deserves a spot in all libraries. What a wonderful addition this would be for poetry units. Not to be missed.

For more on this collection, please see my interview with Nikki Grimes.

Review copy (ARC) courtesy of the publisher

ISBN-13: 9781681199443
Publisher: Bloomsbury USA
Publication date: 01/05/2021
Age Range: 10 – 14 Years

Take 5: Five Links of Interest for YA Readers – New YA for 2021

Are you looking for information about new YA releases in 2021? Here are some links to help you get started. I love lists of lists all in one place.

Epic Reads Most Anticipated of 2021: https://www.epicreads.com/blog/most-anticipated-2021-ya-books/

Buzzfeed List of Most Anticipated Books Releasing in the First Half of 2021: https://www.buzzfeed.com/farrahpenn/2021-young-adult-books-new

Penguin Teen 2021 YA Book Preview: http://www.penguinteen.com/2021-ya-book-preview/

Simon Teen YA Book Covers First Look at Riveted: https://rivetedlit.com/2020/08/12/your-first-look-at-all-the-covers-for-our-spring-2021-ya-books/

GoodReads List of 679 YA Books Releasing in 2021: https://www.goodreads.com/list/show/113013.YA_Novels_of_2021

Do you have a list you would like to share? Please leave us a link in the comments.

Riley’s Post It Note Reviews: These Vengeful Hearts, Down Comes the Night and Pumpkin

With the holiday break, teen reviewer Riley Jensen was able to get some reading done and is sharing some post-it note reviews with us. Riley’s mom, that’s me, had some technical difficulties so the post it note review pics are super tiny and I apologize.

These Vengeful Hearts by Katherine Laurin

Publisher’s Book Description

Anyone can ask the Red Court for a favor…but every request comes at a cost. And once the deed is done, you’re forever in their debt.

Whenever something scandalous happens at Heller High, the Red Court is the name on everyone’s lips. Its members–the most elite female students in the school–deal out social ruin and favors in equal measure, their true identities a secret known only to their ruthless leader: the Queen of Hearts.

Sixteen-year-old Ember Williams has seen firsthand the damage the Red Court can do. Two years ago, they caused the accident that left her older sister paralyzed. Now, Ember is determined to hold them accountable…by taking the Red Court down from the inside.

But crossing enemy lines will mean crossing moral boundaries, too–ones Ember may never be able to come back from. She always knew taking on the Red Court would come at a price, but will the cost of revenge be more than she’s willing to sacrifice?

Riley’s Post It Note Review: Very dark and twisted, but there were some things that I didn’t fully understand.

This book is already published.

Down Comes the Night by Allison Saft

Publisher’s Book Description

He saw the darkness in her magic. She saw the magic in his darkness.

Wren Southerland’s reckless use of magic has cost her everything: she’s been dismissed from the Queen’s Guard and separated from her best friend—the girl she loves. So when a letter arrives from a reclusive lord, asking Wren to come to his estate, Colwick Hall, to cure his servant from a mysterious illness, she seizes her chance to redeem herself.

The mansion is crumbling, icy winds haunt the caved-in halls, and her eccentric host forbids her from leaving her room after dark. Worse, Wren’s patient isn’t a servant at all but Hal Cavendish, the infamous Reaper of Vesria and her kingdom’s sworn enemy. Hal also came to Colwick Hall for redemption, but the secrets in the estate may lead to both of their deaths.

With sinister forces at work, Wren and Hal realize they’ll have to join together if they have any hope of saving their kingdoms. But as Wren circles closer to the nefarious truth behind Hal’s illness, they realize they have no escape from the monsters within the mansion. All they have is each other, and a startling desire that could be their downfall.

Allison Saft’s Down Comes the Night is a snow-drenched romantic fantasy that keeps you racing through the pages long into the night.

Love makes monsters of us all.

Riley’s Post It Note Review: Lots of good twists and turns and has a great theme of things aren’t always what they seem. Nice enemy to lover.

This book publishes in March 2021 from Wednesday Books

Pumpkin by Julie Murphy

Publisher’s Book Description

Waylon Russell Brewer is a fat, openly gay boy stuck in the small West Texas town of Clover City. His plan is to bide his time until he can graduate, move to Austin with his twin sister, Clementine, and finally go Full Waylon, so that he can live his Julie-the-hills-are-alive-with-the-sound-of-music-Andrews truth.

So when Clementine deviates from their master plan right after Waylon gets dumped, he throws caution to the wind and creates an audition tape for his favorite TV drag show, Fiercest of Them All. What he doesn’t count on is the tape accidentally getting shared with the entire school. . . . As a result, Waylon is nominated for prom queen as a joke. Clem’s girlfriend, Hannah Perez, also receives a joke nomination for prom king.

Waylon and Hannah decide there’s only one thing to do: run—and leave high school with a bang. A very glittery bang. Along the way, Waylon discovers that there is a lot more to running for prom court than campaign posters and plastic crowns, especially when he has to spend so much time with the very cute and infuriating prom king nominee Tucker Watson.

Waylon will need to learn that the best plan for tomorrow is living for today . . . especially with the help of some fellow queens. . . .

Riley’s Post It Note Review: A classic Julie Murphy feel-good book about becoming who you were meant to be and loving yourself.

This book comes out May 2021 from Balzer & Bray and is book #3 in the Dumplin’ universe

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