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Shadowshaper by Daniel José Older

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Shadowshaper by Daniel José Older

Sierra Maria Santiago should be finishing the mural at the Tower. Instead, she is heading to the first party of the summer, meeting up with some of her best friends and enjoying the end of the school year. Well, that was the plan. Until her grandfather tells her that she is a shadowshaper and that the weird kid at school that has drawings all over his clothes will help her finish the mural. Sierra has no idea what he is talking about. Her grandfather had a stroke a year ago, and has barely said anything coherent since. That is until tonight. But what does it even mean to be a shadowshaper? The people who know won’t give her a clear answer, and the night she asks Robbie she ends up being chased by a reanimated dead body known as a corpuscule. But shadowshapers use magic to help the dead and unknown to Sierra, she comes from a family of them and she will be part of the legacy.
Hold on to your garters because things happen quickly in this book. From very …

Well-Read Black Girl: Finding Our Stories, Discovering Ourselves edited by Glory Edim

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Well-Read Black Girl: Finding Our Stories, Discovering Ourselves edited by Glory Edim


I’ve always been a voracious reader. My mother used to read me bedtime stories at night and as soon as I learned how to read, more often than not you would find me with a book in my hands. There are two books that stand out that were an obvious reflection of me and my family: The People Could Fly by Virginia Hamilton and Pass It On: African American Poetry by Wade Hudson. Those two books had Black people on the covers, Black people on the pages and were about Black people. Those were the two books I would always go back to. Even after years of reading Goosebumps, Fear Street and Stephen King. Even after imagining myself as Hermione in Harry Potter and well into my teenage years I would still find myself randomly grabbing those two books and reading the pages that influenced me so much when I was young. Reading this anthology brought me back to those books even though it’s been over a decade since I’ve…

The Good Neighbor: The Life and Work of Fred Rogers by Maxwell King

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The Good Neighbor: The Life and Work of Fred Rogers by Maxwell King


What memories do I have of Fred Rogers? I remember his show and I remember puppets but I don’t remember much of the man. Regardless I was intrigued by this biography and the concept of learning more about this man, whose songs I remember but whose life I do not. I feel like everyone remembers the man in the cardigan but no one knew him. After reading this book I feel like I know him and more than that, I miss him. I wish that I had incorporated him into my child’s life at a young age. I wish I could remember the lessons he taught and the make belief neighborhood he created. King does an amazing job letting readers into the life of a man who cherished children and was so invested in their education. From his family, to his upbringing, to his passions and drives this book puts everything together and really emphasizes the things that made Fred Rogers the man he was. I would have never even considered the amount of work t…

Memphis, Martin and the Mountaintop by Alice Faye Duncan, illustrated by R. Gregory Christie

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Memphis, Martin and the Mountaintop by Alice Faye Duncan, illustrated by R. Gregory Christie

April 4th, 1968 is a day that is burned into memory of this country. It’s the day Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was murdered while standing on the balcony of the Memphis motel, Lorraine. I can recall those images clear as day even though I was born decades after the assassination happened. The man who spoke of his dream, was now dead. Memphis, Martin and the Mountaintop explains the events that led up to Dr. King’s death, the Memphis Sanitation Strike. Two Black men, Echol Cole and Robert Walker were killed while working as garbage collectors. Tired of working at poverty level, unable to be recognized as a union and afraid for their lives working in unsafe conditions the Black men working as garbage collectors in Memphis went on strike. This story, told through the eyes of Lorraine a woman recounting her days as child, details what it was like during those times. Lorraine remembers seeing her fath…

Long Way Down by Jason Reynolds

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Long Way Down by Jason Reynolds


Told in verse Long Way Down is the story of Will, a fifteen-year-old boy who just lost his brother, Shawn, in a shooting. His mother is in mourning and he is convinced he needs to follow the rules and go after the guy he knows killed Shawn. Grabbing the gun his brother hid in the middle dresser drawer, Will leaves his apartment and takes the most important elevator ride of his life. This book speaks to a certain mentality. A hood mentality. It’s one of the rules in this book, get revenge. The problem with getting revenge is that the cycle never stops. That’s the lesson Will hasn’t learned yet. It’s the lesson all the people that join him in the elevator are trying to teach him. Reynolds laid this theme out so succinctly, never wasting a word, a moment, a page. Not a lot of world building goes into an elevator, yet and still I was in that elevator with Will and quite a bit happens. It’s an incredible and chilling ride, laced with a truth so many young peop…

Dread Nation by Justina Ireland

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Dread Nation by Justina Ireland




Dread Nation is an alternate history novel where the Civil War ended because the dead started to rise on the battlefields, biting and infecting the living. The undead plague had begun. It’s been over ten years since the deathless began roaming the Earth and some of the land has been given up for good. The shamblers outnumber the living and they have become such a threat that the land has simply been abandoned. Large cities like Baltimore have built walls protecting themselves. The wealthy hire Attendants from schools like Ms. Preston’s School of Combat where Jane McKeeney, a seventeen-year-old Negro girl is being trained to kill the shamblers. Ever since the Negro and Native Reeducation Act has been passed, all of the Native and Negro children have to learn to fight in order to earn a living. But a family near the school has gone missing and everything isn’t what it seems in Baltimore county. This novel is a lot to take in. The idea that the Civil War en…

Go Tell It on the Mountain by James Baldwin

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Go Tell It on the Mountain by James Baldwin



This is the first fiction book that I’ve read by James Baldwin and it was extremely enjoyable. It’s the story of John, a teenage, Black boy living with his family. His father, Gabrielle, is a preacher. His younger brother Roy is known for running around causing trouble. His mother, Elizabeth, stays at home raising his little sister and youngest brother. John tries to be a good child, listening to his mother and helping around the house. But none of his efforts ever satisfy his father, who blames John and his mother for the recklessness he sees in Roy. It’s against this backdrop that we learn about John’s family. We learn of the sins that have gotten their family to where they are now. The sordid history that forced his Aunt Florence to leave the South to find her own way up North, the years that would follow before Gabrielle followed, and how Elizabeth and he came to marry. I hate it when I’ve read a story, truly adored it and can’t come up w…