Step outside, close your eyes, and take a deep breath in. Is that… love in the air? Or is it just the relief of a few consecutive days of sunshine and windbreaker weather? That, I suppose, is for you to decide. But the robins have returned to the neighbourhood, which means spring is coming. And when it comes to love, there’s always plenty to love going on here in our humble digital pages, from tales of romance to ghost stories to poisoning. As Reading Week approaches for many of us, I can’t think of a better time to dive into some of the books our intrepid reviewers have been exploring. Let’s get into it!
In our February author spotlight, editor RJ McDaniel interviews Kyle Lukoff, librarian and award-winning author of books for kids and teens. RJ and Kyle discuss Kyle’s Newbery Honor middle-grade novel Too Bright to See (2021). They also discuss the impact of Kyle’s experience as a librarian on his writing, the process of diving back into the hauntings of childhood for a book, and the recent onslaught of book banning and removals from libraries in the United States:
I think it’s important to not let the other side control the narrative, and to steadfastedly affirm the value of books by and about queer, Black, immigrant, Indigenous, Muslim, and/or other marginalized categories of human beings as good. Not just because they reflect the experiences of other human beings, but because those are all good things to be, and they are good things to learn about, and attempting to remove those narratives, and by extension those people, is exterminationist and genocidal and should be countenanced without compromise.
– 5 Questions for Kyle Lukoff
And in case you missed any, here are all the new reviews that have been published on the site since we last spoke:
- “V’s taunting personality and anonymity, combined with comments from energetic K-pop stans and Alice’s fish-out-of-water perspective make for a compelling set of narrative voices that leave you wanting more at the end of each section.” Claudine Yip reviews Idol Gossip by Alexandra Leigh Young.
- “Not only does Payne create a good mystery, but she incorporates haunting details that make readers’ arm hairs stand on end.” MacKenzie Sewell reviews Grave Message by Mary Jennifer Payne.
- “At times, Bug thinks it might not be so bad to keep doing this forever, living at arm’s length from himself, watching her go through the motions. The ghost won’t let him.” RJ McDaniel reviews Too Bright to See by Kyle Lukoff.
- “With laugh-out-loud teenage awkwardness perfectly written into existence, Lynn Painter brings us right into what it means to be 17 and searching for our own movie-worthy love story.” Debut reviewer Sophia Thomson reviews Better Than the Movies by Lynn Painter.
- “Facing the possibility of his own death, Snicket pushes through his feelings of bewilderment to solve his mystery. Yet every step forward leads to new questions.” Debut reviewer Ayşe Lara Yildirim reviews Poison for Breakfast by Lemony Snicket, illustrated by Margaux Kent.
Industry News and Events
The School Library Journal has announced this year’s Middle Grade Magic event for March 10. The day-long event will feature sneak peeks at new titles, a virtual exhibit hall, and the opportunity to chat directly with authors. You can register here.
February is Black History Month, and the Canadian Children’s Book Centre has published a reading list of some fantastic titles for young readers. You can check it out here.
Finally, many people both inside and outside the world of books for young readers have been watching the unfolding saga of the banning of Maus, Art Spiegelman’s groundbreaking and much-heralded graphic novel about his father’s experience of the Holocaust, by a Tennessee school board. Maus had previously been on the curriculum for eighth-graders, but was pulled by the school board under the guise of protecting students from ostensibly “graphic” sexuality and language.
Challenges to books within education contexts and libraries, particularly when those books are targeted towards or being taught to young readers, are far from new. But with increasing legal pressure to limit the teaching of certain subject matter in schools, it is all the more important for authors, librarians, publishers, critics, and readers to — as Kyle Lukoff said — steadfastly affirm the value of diverse, challenging, historical, and marginalized literature for young people.
As always, please do send us your news related to children’s and young adult literature at firstname.lastname@example.org so we can feature them in future newsletters. Our newsletter is published on the 2nd and 4th Mondays of each month. And remember to keep up with us on Twitter and Instagram!
Take care, and happy reading,
The Young Adulting Editors