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Stephanie's Reviews

A Phoenix First Must Burn: Sixteen Stories of Black Girl Magic, Resistance, and Hope Edited by Patrice Caldwell

This book is Black Girl Magic in written form! It includes sixteen #ownvoices fantasy and science fiction short stories that are as diverse as the Black experience. Established authors like Elizabeth Acevedo, Dhonielle Clayton, Justina Ireland, Rebecca Roanhorse, and Ibi Zoboi share space with up-and-coming and debut authors, creating a well-rounded collection. Magical and real, these well-spun stories run the gamut from lighthearted to intense and are a great choice for readers of any background!


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A Phoenix First Must Burn: Sixteen Stories of Black Girl Magic, Resistance, and Hope Cover Image
By Patrice Caldwell (Editor)
ISBN: 9781984835659
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Viking Books for Young Readers - March 10th, 2020

The Midnight Lie by Marie Rutkoski

I was fascinated by this fantasy world where people accept the incredibly unjust caste system. Everyone says, “It is as it is,” but Nirrim starts questioning that after she falls in with the swoon-worthy, enigmatic Sid. I loved piecing together the mystery of the past with Nirrim and was shocked when the truth came to light. I’m already looking forward to the next installment! A great choice for Rutkoski fans and readers who enjoy mystery-driven fantasies with a historical feel.


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ISBN: 9780374306380
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR) - March 3rd, 2020

From the Desk of Zoe Washington by Janae Marks

I loved watching Zoe’s transformation from someone who knows little about social justice to a person determined to help right a egregious wrong. I also appreciated how friendship was examined in this book: when Zoe catches her friend not standing up for her, she expects him not only to apologize but also to change his behavior—good modeling for all, especially girls. A great choice for fans of A Good Kind of Trouble and Lalani of the Distant Sea.


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ISBN: 9780062875853
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Katherine Tegen Books - January 14th, 2020

The Next President: The Unexpected Beginnings and Unwritten Future of America’s Presidents by Kate Messner

This book surprised me in the best way! I didn’t think I’d be interested in a book about U.S. presidents, but this one fascinated me by presenting them both in a more honest (eg. the “founding fathers” don’t get a pass on being enslavers, while subtle shade is thrown at Trump) and interesting (highlighting all the future presidents alive during a certain year) light. Great for anyone interested in a more authentic and nuanced look at U.S. history.

In a Jar by Deborah Marcero

This magical ode to friendship warmed my heart! I loved how Llewellyn collects experiences in jars, allowing him and his best friend, Evelyn, to continue to share their lives, even when she moves away. The illustrations are as utterly charming as the story itself, which is full of the magic of the ordinary. A perfect read-aloud for any and everyone!


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By Deborah Marcero, Deborah Marcero (Illustrator)
ISBN: 9780525514596
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: G.P. Putnam's Sons Books for Young Readers - January 21st, 2020

Fly! by Mark Teague

This book is laugh-out-loud funny! Mama Bird thinks it’s time for Baby Bird to fly. So she attempts a coercive strategy to get her baby out of their apparently too comfy nest, but Baby Bird has other ideas, as readers will see in the pair’s comical illustrated speech-bubble dialogue. When Baby Bird’s brattiness lands it on the ground, the hilarity soars—as does Mama Bird’s frustration with Baby Bird’s antics. Sure to elicit laughs from adult and child readers alike. - Stephanie

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Fly! Cover Image
By Mark Teague, Mark Teague (Illustrator)
ISBN: 9781534451285
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Beach Lane Books - September 17th, 2019

Saturday by Oge Mora

This splendid book by Caldecott honoree Oge Mora is an ode to resilience and the mother– daughter bond. Since Ava’s mother works “Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday,” Saturday is their special day together. The beautiful collage art is so charming and really makes the love between the pair palpable. When their plans go awry, the touching twist at the end provides a heartwarming conclusion that brought tears to my eyes. A great choice for any and everyone! - Stephanie

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Saturday Cover Image
By Oge Mora (By (artist))
ISBN: 9780316431279
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers - October 22nd, 2019

Tristan Strong Punches a Hole in the Sky by Kwame Mbalia

Tristan Strong (what a great name!) didn’t expect his summer exile in the countryside to lead him to an alternate dimension where African American folktale characters are gods. He also didn’t expect that he could punch a hole in the sky. But relatable, reluctant hero Tristan has a summer full of all this and more, in a story that’s exciting and hilarious, with lots of depth and heart. Perfect for fans of adventure fantasy and especially for Rick Riordan enthusiasts. - Stephanie

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ISBN: 9781368039932
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Rick Riordan Presents - October 15th, 2019

The Okay Witch by Emma Steinkellner

Moth Hush loves fun witchy stuff. So she’s delighted to discover she’s a real-life witch from a line of powerful witches. But being a witch isn’t all fun and games. The historical bits add gravitas to this tale, making it one full of humor (Mr. Laszlo, Moth’s familiar, is one quippy cat) and heart. Fans of Raina Telgemeier and Victoria Jameison are sure to love this story about families, identity, and finding a place where you belong. - Stephanie

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ISBN: 9781534431454
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Aladdin - September 3rd, 2019

Pet by Akwaeke Emezi

This original and bold book is for those who, like me, enjoy enigmas and complex questions. The town of Lucille is free of “monsters” (people who exploit others)—or at least that’s what Jam was taught. When a magical creature called Pet appears, Jam learns otherwise: There’s a monster in Lucille, and it’s in her best friend’s house. Impressively combining mystery with ethics, this story will keep you on the edge of your seat and thinking long after the final page. - Stephanie

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Pet Cover Image
ISBN: 9780525647072
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Make Me a World - September 10th, 2019


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