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Staff Picks: Books


March: Book 3, the final installment of the graphic novel trilogy authored by Rep. John Lewis and Andrew Aydin and illustrated by Nate Powell, was chosen as the Michael L. Printz award winner for excellence in Young Adult Literature on January 23 at ALA Youth Media Awards. This graphic novel chronicles the coming of age of Freedom Rider and Civil Rights activist, John Lewis. This incredible graphic novel, also the first GN to win the National Book Award, will inspire and encourage young people and adults to live a life of service. We can all be encouraged by John Lewis' example.


This take on Beauty and the Beast really is original. Dylan, an over-sized and hirsute 15 year old, is our unreliable narrator. Awash in a sea of self-pity and zero self-esteem Dylan spends most of the book thinking everyone sees him the way he sees himself (honestly, he spends so much time pitying himself it's exhausting) and waiting for a sign from his deceased father. Jamie, an amazing, funny, and creative girl challenges Dylan’s superficiality when he realizes that not only is he totally into her, but that she is transgender. So, confession: this book ticked me off a lot. I spent a lot of the day yelling at Dylan for being a jerk. Almost all the characters are crappy people and I felt incredibly cynical about them. BUT! I could not put it down. As frustrating as I found this book, the writing is compelling and the character growth is authentic. Also, unreliable narrators make for a fun read, even when they are super irritating.

Paper Girls 2 For Me and You!

Paper Girls 2 is here! If you're new to the series, just know that it is the perfect comic to read while waiting for season 2 of Stranger Things. Complete with a great group of kids, crazy monsters, and 1980s hairstyles in all their feather-fringed glory. If you are already a fan, you’ll remember, at the end of Paper Girls Volume 1, KJ was still missing, and the gang was mysteriously transported out of the 80s. If you’ve somehow been patient enough to wait for the next volume instead of going out to buy the single comics, you’ll be excited to know this one starts right where the last one left off—with the girls being dropped right in the middle of 2016, and Erin coming face to face with her adult self!

Will Erin be disappointed in her future self? Will they ever find KJ? Will the paper girls be able to survive the horrors of 2016???

There's only one way to find out-- check it out right now!

Lucky Penny

Penny’s life is a mess. She’s living out of her friend’s storage unit, and working for a 12-year-old tyrant at a laundromat. When she’s not attempting to rescue cats from mean kids in the neighborhood, she’s reading fantasy romance novels, and working on a real life awkward romance of her own. Lucky Penny, by creators Ananth Hirsh and Yuko Ota, is a quirky romantic comedy, and also my new favorite graphic novel at the moment.

It reads like a cross between the epic Scott Pilgrim series and the super twee web cartoon Bee and Puppycat. It’s adorable, funny, and unabashedly nerdy. I enjoyed it immensely, and you probably will too, so check it out already!

Of Fire and Stars

I love a good, fun fantasy. The world building in Audrey Coulthurst’s debut novel, Of Fire and Stars, is thorough and interesting, as is the character development. Right from the start we are introduced to a girl who discovers she has an Affinity for fire, and while parts of the world are accepting of that, she’s already betrothed to the prince of a kingdom that believes magic use to be heretical. What gives this story a great twist is the romance that blossoms between our protagonist and the sister of her betrothed. I found it refreshing and interesting to read a world where their priorities were flipped - the main challenge of these two women being together wasn’t that they were both women, but that one was betrothed to the other’s brother. Oh, and she can use magic, which is kind of a big deal. Especially when magic-users might be involved in an assassination (or two). There were so many layers to this fantasy, and each one made me want more, even days after finishing the book.

Cat Rackham

Cat Rackham is a cat. Specifically, Cat Rackham is a cat with a lot of issues. Depression? He's got it. Existential dread? Same. Self-doubt? Yes. On the other hand he's also got a nifty green t-shirt, a squishy tuft of hair, and a friend in exuberant, speech-impedimented Jeremy Squirrel, but aside from that he's still pretty much a mess. Mostly wordless, each Cat Rackham vignette in this collection illustrates the poor feline's coping with life's difficulties, with varying degrees of success. Originally published as an infrequent online comic, Cat Rackham is a more-or-less literal embodiment of creator Steve Wolfhard's personal struggles with depression, along with a love of cats and a desire to entertain. Wolfhard's day job as a storyboard artist and animator for sorta-for-kids-although-maybe-not-I-don't-know cartoon Adventure Time shows through, with blobby character designs and a morbid sense of humor dominating each page. If you're struggling, if you like cats, or both, maybe Cat Rackham can help. Or not. He's having a hard time himself.

Towers Falling

I remember how nice the day was. How I didn’t want to go to school. I remember being bored in my Focus on Freshman class when the assistant principal ran, red faced and huffing, into the classroom, handed our teacher a piece of paper, and then ran out. I remember the whole class asking if we were on lockdown, if there was an active shooter in our school, or in the high school across town. I remember the teacher struggling with how to explain what had just happened to a bunch of 9th graders. I remember thinking the world was about to change.

It’s hard to imagine that something that happened not that long ago, something I can still remember so vividly, could be a foreign concept to someone else. In Towers Falling, fifth grader Dèja Barnes wonders how something that happened before she was born could have to do with her. How could this bit of history, something that happened 15 years ago, have any impact on her now? The story follows her as she realizes that 9/11 may have happened before she was born, but the effects have touched everyone around her, and ripple outward to affect her life in ways she did not previously understand. This book does such a fabulous job of showing how we are all connected through our small communities that build outward and how we’re all connected as Americans to 9/11 and how history is never something that exists only in the past tense.

Six of Crows

 I just finished this book, and it is so great that I just have to tell you all about it! It’s called Six of Crows, and it’s written by Leigh Bardugo. It’s a heist novel, set in a fantasy world, and normally I don’t go for these types of stories, because I’m more into nuanced character studies, but that’s part of why this book is so great. 

Each and every character on the team for the big job in this book is fully three-dimensional, with worries, fears, and short comings. Also, it’s a diverse cast of characters, which is really refreshing. The leader of the team Kaz, is 17 and has to walk with a cane due to an injury, and the author wrote that she included this because she herself has to walk with a cane due to a disability.

A lot of times disabled people are erased from narratives, or if they are included in the story, they are defined by their disability. So I was elated to see a strong, complex, interesting character like Kaz.

I love this book, and I’m excited to start on the sequel. Don’t miss out!

Looking for a shorter, high interest book to read?

Try the Rapid reads series! These books are all in the 100-something page range. They are high interest books, geared toward teens and adults that are reluctant readers or looking to improve their reading skills. KPL recently added another great title from this series, The innocence device, about a future where the world is made up of only prisoners and guards. There is overcrowding in one prison, and a machine named the Innocence Device is introduced that supposedly can determine innocence or guilt, with the result being instant freedom or death. Prisoners discover the machine is rigged and riot to claim control of the prison.

Check out other titles in this series, and also search the subject High interest-low vocabulary books for more books like it.


The Last Boy and Girl in the World

The town of Aberdeen is pretty much drowning as the local river waters rise. Residents are caught trying to decide whether to stay and tough it out or stay and leave their home and break up their community. Keely and her friends decide to make the most of what will likely be their last days together in Aberdeen. In the end, The Last Boy in the and Girl in the World is another great teen novel, telling a compelling story and asking questions about the deeper things in life at the same time.