These outstanding books feature stories about young people both far away and close to home. All were reviewed in Booklist between
February 1, 2016, and January 2017. —Ilene Cooper
American Street. By Ibi Zoboi. 2017. HarperCollins/Balzer+Bray, $17.99
(9780062473042). Gr. 9–12.
Zoboi’s stunning debut novel intertwines love and mysticism with
grit and violence to tell the story of a Haitian teen trying to adjust to
her new life in Detroit.
Freedom over Me: Eleven Slaves; Their Lives and Dreams Brought to Life by Ashley
Bryan. By Ashley Bryan. Illus. by the author. 2016. Atheneum/Caitlyn Dlouhy, $17.99
(9781481456906). Gr. 3–6.
In this handsome book, inspired by a historical document, the imagined voices of these
enslaved people introduce themselves and tell their own moving stories.
Garvey’s Choice. By Nikki Grimes. 2016. Boyd’s Mills/Wordsong, $16.95
(9781629797403). Gr. 4–6.
A young African American boy is urged by his father to take up athletics, but he likes
to read—and eat—leading to teasing at school. Written in five-line Japanese poetry, the
story will resonate with many.
Ghost. By Jason Reynolds. 2016. Atheneum/Caitlyn Dlouhy, $16.99 (9781481450157).
Castle “Ghost” Crenshaw has a chance to run for a track team. Or will he just implode?
Reynolds’ latest tackles issues such as theft, bullying, and domestic violence in a book
that is as funny as it is heartbreaking.
It Ain’t So Awful, Falafel. By Firoozeh Dumas. 2016. Clarion, $16.99 (9780544612310).
Eleven-year-old Zomorod has moved four times between her native Iran and California.
It’s 1978, and she thinks she can keep a low profile—until the Iranian revolution, with its
hostage-taking situation, makes her a target.
Juana & Lucas. By Juana Medina. Illus. by the author. 2016. Candlewick, $14.99
(9780763672089). K–Gr. 3.
In this early chapter book, Medina introduces a spirited Colombian girl (and her dog, Lucas) who likes many things but not learning English. After a trip to Spaceland, in the U.S.,
however, Juana finds out how learning a new language can open the door to adventure.
Lucy and Linh. By Alice Pung. 2016. Knopf, $17.99 (9780399550485). Gr. 9–12.
Lucy, a lower-middle-class Chinese Australian teen, wins a prestigious scholarship to an
exclusive all-girls school, but she struggles among mean girls. She keeps in contact with
Linh, the girl she left behind, through letters that reveal a surprising relationship.
Playing for the Devil’s Fire. By Diederich Phillipe. 2016. Cinco Puntos, $16.95
(9781941026298). Gr. 9–12.
Boli and his family are poor, but life in their rural Mexican village is good, until a violent
drug cartel moves in. Boli’s only hope? A down-on-his-luck pro wrestler. A poignant and
timely coming-of-age story.
The Princess and the Warrior. By Duncan Tonatiuh. Illus. by the author. 2016. Abrams,
$16.95 (9781419721304). K–Gr 3.
Tonatiuh brings a richness of text and illustration to this retelling of a Mexican legend,
featuring the two great volcanic mountains that stand outside Mexico City. A compelling
celebration of Aztec culture.
When the Sea Turned to Silver. By Grace Lin. Illus. by the author. 2016. Little, Brown,
$18.99 (9780316125925). Gr. 3–6.
Lin’s third book in her fantasy cycle set in ancient China reimagines traditional folklore
for a new audience. Here, a timid girl, accompanied by a mischievous orphan, must find
her grandmother, who has been taken by soldiers.
TOP 10 DIVERSE FICTION FOR YOUTH
Continued on p.38
Ivy. On the surface, Chloe has it together—
handsome boyfriend James; best friend Sarah;
and an effortless, sunny disposition. At home,
however, there’s her stepfather, Ron, whose first
experience at parenting is marked by micro-management. When Chloe goes out without
her sister, Ivy lets her know that she’s lonely,
which gives Chloe an idea: she’s going to find
Ivy a boyfriend. There’s a young man in Ivy’s
class, named Ethan, whom she seems to like,
so Chloe starts working on
getting them on a date. Then
she finds out that Ethan’s
brother, David, someone
she knows and despises, will
be coming along, too. They
start to get along as they get
to know each other and realize that they have more in
common than they knew. With perceptiveness and ample skill, LaZebnik paints a vivid
picture of what the sibling of a person with
high-functioning autism might go through.
Never resorting to stereotype, she depicts appealing, three-dimensional characters who
flesh out a narrative that is compassionate, tender, funny, and wise all at once. This
insightful, well-written story will entertain
readers while inspiring meaningful empathy.
By Hena Khan.
Mar. 2017. 208p. Simon & Schuster/Salaam Reads,
$16.99 (9781481492065). Gr. 3–6.
Amina enjoys spending time with her best
friend Soojin and practicing her singing, as
long as no one is around to hear her. When
Soojin starts talking about selecting a second,
more American name when
she becomes a citizen, Amina
feels she is starting to lose her
friend, especially as Soojin
starts to befriend classmate
Emily and talk about boys.
To add to Amina’s worries,
her parents have signed her
up to be part of a statewide
When the Islamic Center is vandalized, however, Amina begins to discover things about her
family, her friends, her community, and herself
that ultimately help her through her difficulties;
in particular, that the support she needs is all
around her. The Amina that readers meet at the
beginning of the story—a shy, unsure young
girl—gradually and beautifully blossoms into
the confident girl she longs to be. Khan gracefully balances portraying the unique features
of Amina’s cultural and religious background
with familiar themes of family, belonging, and
friendship worries, which should resonate with
a wide range of readers. Written as beautifully