Each month we post an annotated bibliography of books that were rated ‘Outstanding’ at our previous month’s meeting and nominated for our year-end Distinguished List. Members can see full reviews of these books and many more in the January edition of BayViews. Not a member? Join, come to our (currently virtual) monthly meetings, and hear about these Outstanding books “in person”!
Becoming Muhammad Ali written by Patterson, James and Alexander, Kwame; Little, Brown and Company/Hachette/Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2020.
In this verse and prose novel which focuses on the life of a young Muhammad Ali, the reader gets a full view of how Ali grows as both an athlete and an activist. (Grades 5-7.)
The Bridge written by Konigsberg, Bill; Scholastic, 2020.
The Bridge tells four stories – in each of them Aaron & Tillie come to the George Washington Bridge intending to jump but there the stories diverge. Ultimately this book showcases hope and reasons for each of the characters to live. (9-Adult.)
Deathless Divide written by Ireland, Justina; Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins, 2020.
The second book in the Dread Nation series, Deathless Divide is narrated by Jane McKeene and her unlikely friend Katherine Deveraux. The novel explores relationships between black women and examines tensions between communities of color and the corrupting, colonizing influence of white settlement. (8-12.)
Elatsoe written by Little Badger, Darcie; Levine Querido/Chronicle, 2020.
Ellie is a Lipan Apache teen with the hereditary gift of raising spirits. Her summer plans change when her cousin Trevor dies and his spirit appears to her with a plea: he names his murderer and asks Ellie for justice. This is a story with wide appeal for any readers looking for a fresh mystery. (7-12.)
Land of the Cranes written by Salazar, Aida; Scholastic, 2020.
Oakland writer Aida Salazar uses verse to depict the experience of nine-year-old Latinx Betita Quintero and her pregnant mother in an immigration family detention center. Salazar creates visceral images that do not pander to stereotypes in this timely story. (3-7.)
Not So Pure and Simple written by Giles, Lamar; HarperCollins, 2020.
When protagonist Del Rainey Jr. inadvertently takes the Purity Pledge at his church in an attempt to put the moves on his long-time crush Keira, and is then caught ferrying questions from his church group to his high school health class, humor tempers a serious examination of gender politics. (8-12.)
Punching the Air written by Zoboi, Ibi and Salaam, Yusef; Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins, 2020.
A novel in verse, Punching the Air tells the story of teenaged Amal Shahid, imprisoned for a crime he did not commit. It details his physical and mental suffering , examining our brutalizing prison system and exploring the inner strength and creativity he calls on to maintain himself. (8-12.)
This Light Between Us: A Novel of World War II written by Fukuda, Andrew; Tor Teen/Tom Doherty Associates/Macmillan, 2020.
World War II is experienced through the eyes of Japanese American boy Alex Maki, as well as the letters he shares with a Jewish girl named Charlie Levy. This powerful story of friendship during a time of war is a must read for teen fans of historical fiction. (7-12.)
Almost American Girl written and illustrated by Ha, Robin; Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins, 2020.
In this illustrated memoir, fourteen-year-old Chuna’s life is upended after a “vacation” to Alabama. Her mother has gotten married and they’re starting a new life in America. Themes include: mother/daughter relationships, new immigrant experiences, grief, and single parenthood. (6-12.)
Superman Smashes the Klan written by Yang, Gene Luen and illustrated by Gurihiru; DC Comics, 2020.
Chinese American siblings Roberta & Tommy Lee team up with Superman to fight racism and embrace their true selves. Solid characters, lively artwork, and relevant themes make this a superhero story that is not to be missed. (6-Adult.)
Clever Hans: The True Story of the Counting, Adding, and Time-Telling Horse written by Kokias, Kerri and illustrated by Lowery, Mike; G.P. Putnam’s Sons/Penguin Random House, 2020.
Hans, a horse in 1904 Berlin, seemed capable of human reason. Scientists endeavored to discover whether his brilliance was a fraud. Lively and immediate text and lots of colorful, cartoon-style illustrations introduce the scientific method and the importance of well-designed experiments. (K-3.)
Flight for Freedom: The Wetzel Family’s Daring Escape from East Germany written by Fulton, Kristen and illustrated by Kuhlmann, Torben; Chronicle, 2020.
This true-life tale of two families who make a daring escape from East Berlin in a homemade hot air balloon offers an exciting window into Cold War history. Extensive back-matter provides engineering details, historical context and personal perspectives. (1-4.)