Each of these books combines the voices of lots of inspiring people, whether in stories, essays, comics, or thought-provoking quotes, in order to inform and enlighten readers.
Here We Are: Feminism for the Real World, a lively anthology edited by Book Riot associate editor Kelly Jensen, broaches the subject of “feminism for the real world” through essays, comics, poems, interviews, and other material aimed at an adolescent audience. It combines previously published works with original content by a diverse group of contributors, including celebrities, activists, comics artists, and young adult authors, in an accessible scrapbook-style format. Topics range from the history of the word feminism to personal reflections on the intersections between feminism and race, gender, sexual orientation, and ability. Here We Are functions as an accessible collection of contemporary feminist writing and an introduction to twenty-first-century feminism. (Algonquin, 12 years and up)
In Comics Confidential: Thirteen Graphic Novelists Talk Story, Craft, and Life Outside the Box, children’s literature historian Leonard S. Marcus interviews graphic novelists creating books for children and teens. Each individually tailored interview opens with a self-portrait of the artist and contains both a short finished full-color comic inspired by the open-ended prompt “the city” and some preliminary sketches for that comic. The artists represent a range of styles, topics, nationalities, backgrounds, and intended audiences, while Marcus’s insightful questions range from childhood influences to various career paths, and from individual creative processes to broader thoughts on the medium of comics. (Candlewick, 11–14 years)
Flying Lessons & Other Stories, edited by We Need Diverse Books cofounder Ellen Oh, includes tales by (mostly) well-known authors from diverse backgrounds. The protagonists deal with common themes of growing up — love, family, friendship, dreams, fitting in, being excluded, and learning life lessons along the way. A line in Soman Chainani’s title story suggests a unifying concept for the volume: “We’re the same, Nani and I. Two caged birds, searching for a way out.” The strong collection includes a basketball story by Matt de la Peña; a story in verse by Kwame Alexander; a tale on the difficulties of friendship by Jacqueline Woodson; and many others. (Crown, 9–12 years)
Author Kwame Alexander turns motivational speaker in The Playbook: 52 Rules to Aim, Shoot, and Score in This Game Called Life, a volume of short poems, uplifting quotes, and memoir. Though several sports are represented, the collection is organized into four quarters like a basketball game. Alexander’s personal narrative of his early life in sports weaves its way through the display of colorful graphics, black-and-white photographs, poems, and inspirational quotations from famous people. The volume reads like a series of locker-room pep talks by a coach with stories to tell and advice to give. Definitions of words such as focus, tenacity, and resilience add to the overall uplifting tone. (Houghton, 9–12 years)
From the March 2017 issue of Notes from the Horn Book.