Thursday, February 4, 2016

Multicultural Gems of 2015

Children’s and young adult books written and/or illustrated by
authors and illustrators of color

The purpose of this list is to spotlight books for children and young adults published in 2015 that were written and/or illustrated by people of color. Yes, the lack of diversity among children’s and young adult books continues to be a major problem facing the book publishing industry. The number of books written and/or illustrated by book creators of color is still a very small percentage of the total number of books published annually. Those of us who know that the publishing industry must be more inclusive if it is to be truly representative of our nation and our world, continue to advocate and push the envelope. Yet, we know that adequate marketing and selling, and the accessibility of the exciting books that are being published, is a problem, too.

During 2015, outstanding, award-winning authors and illustrators of color produced a wonderful body of work. A significant number of their titles were recognized by the American Library Association’s prestigious Youth Media Awards and Honors, including the Caldecott, Newbery, Coretta Scott King, Pura Belpré, and Robert F. Sibert among others. They are all listed here as well as many other outstanding books published during 2015.

We encourage all who value quality literature for our youth and recognize the need for literature that reflects who we are as a nation and a world, to share this list with others. Help spread the word about these wonderful books so that this question can be answered: “Where are the multicultural books for children?”


2016 John Newbery Medal for the most outstanding contribution to children's literature:

Last Stop on Market Street, written by Matt de la Peña, illustrated by Christian Robinson, published by G. P. Putnam's Sons, an imprint of Penguin Group (USA) LLC.

Newbery Honor

Echo, written by Pam Muñoz Ryan, published by Scholastic Press, an imprint of Scholastic Inc.

Randolph Caldecott Honor

Trombone Shorty, written by Troy Andrews, illustrated by Brian Collier, published by Abrams Books for Young Readers, an imprint of ABRAMS.

Voice of Freedom: Fannie Lou Hamer, Spirit of the Civil Rights Movement, illustrated by Ekua Holmes, written by Carole Boston Weatherford, published by Candlewick Press.

Last Stop on Market Street, illustrated by Christian Robinson, written by Matt de le Peña, published by G. P. Putnam's Sons, an imprint of Penguin Group (USA) LLC.

Coretta Scott King (Author) Book Award, recognizing an African American author and illustrator of outstanding books for children and young adults:

Gone Crazy in Alabama, written by Rita Williams-Garcia, published by Amistad, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers.

Coretta Scott King Honor Books

All American Boys, written by Jason Reynolds and Brendan Kiely, published by Atheneum Books for Young Readers, an imprint of Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing Division.

The Boy in the Black Suit, written by Jason Reynolds, published by Atheneum Books for Young Readers, an imprint of Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing Division.

X: A Novel, written by Ilyasah Shabazz with Kekla Magoon, published by Candlewick Press.

Coretta Scott King (Illustrator) Book Award

Trombone Shorty, illustrated by Bryan Collier, written by Troy Andrews and Bill Taylor, published by Abrams Books for Young Readers, an imprint of Abrams.

Coretta Scott King Illustrator Honor

The Book Itch: Freedom, Truth & Harlem's Greatest Bookstore, illustrated by R. Gregory Christie, written by Vaunda Micheaux Nelson, published by Carolrhoda Books, a division of Lerner Publishing Group, Inc.

Last Stop on Market Street, illustrated by Christian Robinson, written by Matt de la Peña, published by G. P. Putnam's Sons, an imprint of Penguin Group USA.

Coretta Scott King/John Steptoe New Talent Author Award

Hoodoo, written by Ronald L. Smith, published by Clarion Books, an imprint of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.

Coretta Scott King/John Steptoe New Talent Illustrator Award

Voice of Freedom: Fannie Lou Hamer, Spirit of the Civil Rights Movement, illustrated by Ekua Holmes, written by Carole Boston Weatherford, published by Candlewick Press.

Coretta Scott King — Virginia Hamilton Award for Lifetime Achievement

Jerry Pinkney's illustrations detail a world that resonates with readers long after the pages of a book have been turned. His five decades of work offer compelling artistic insights into the legacy of African American storytelling and experience. Beyond Pinkney's technical brilliance, his support of differentiated learning through art and of young illustrators sets him apart as both artist and educator. His powerful illustrations have redefined the scope of the sophisticated picture book and its use with multiple levels of learners.

Pura Belpré (Illustrator) Award honoring a Latino writer and illustrator whose children's books best portray, affirm and celebrate the Latino cultural experience:

The Drum Dream Girl, illustrated by Rafael Lopez, written by Margarita Engle, published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.

Pura Belpré Illustrator Honor Book for illustration

My Tata's Remedies / Los remedios de mi tata, illustrated by Antonio Castro L., written by Roni Capin Rivera-Ashford, published by Cinco Puntos Press.

Mango, Abuela, and Me, illustrated by Angela Dominguez, written by Meg Medina, published by Candlewick Press:

Funny Bones: Posada and His Day of the Dead Calaveras, illustrated and written by Duncan Tonatiuh, published by Abrams Books for Young Readers, an imprint of ABRAMS.

Pura Belpré (Author) Award

Enchanted Air: Two Cultures, Two Wings: A Memoir, written by Margarita Engle, published by Atheneum Books for Young Readers, an imprint of Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing Division.

Pura Belpré Author Honor Books

The Smoking Mirror, written by David Bowles, published by IFWG Publishing, Inc.

Mango, Abuela, and Me, written by Meg Medina, illustrated by Angela Dominguez, published by Candlewick Press.

May Hill Arbuthnot Honor Lecture Award recognizing an author, critic, librarian, historian or teacher of children's literature, who then presents a lecture at a winning host site:

Jacqueline Woodson will deliver the 2017 May Hill Arbuthnot Honor Lecture. Woodson is the 2014 National Book Award winner for her New York Times bestselling memoir, "Brown Girl Dreaming." The author of more than two dozen books for young readers, she is a four-time Newbery Honor winner, a recipient of the NAACP Image Award, a two-time Coretta Scott King Award winner and was recently named the Young People's Poet Laureate by the Poetry Foundation.

Schneider Family Book Award for books that embody an artistic expression of the disability experience:

Emmanuel's Dream: The True Story of Emmanuel Ofosu Yeboah, written by Laurie Ann Thompson, illustrated by Sean Qualls, published by Schwartz & Wade Books, an imprint of Random House Children's Books, a division of Random House.

Laura Ingalls Wilder Award honors an author or illustrator whose books, published in the United States, have made, over a period of years, a substantial and lasting contribution to literature for children.

Jerry Pinkney, whose award-winning works include The Lion and the Mouse, recipient of the Caldecott Award in 2010 . In addition, Pinkney has received five Caldecott Honor Awards, five Coretta Scott King Illustrator Awards, and four Coretta Scott King Illustrator Honors.      

Robert F. Sibert Honor Books

Drowned City: Hurricane Katrina and New Orleans, written and illustrated by Don Brown, published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.

Turning 15 on the Road to Freedom: My Story of the 1965 Selma Voting Rights March, written by Lynda Blackmon Lowery as told to Elspeth Leacock and Susan Buckley, illustrated by PJ Loughran, published by Dial Books, an imprint of Penguin Group (USA).

Voice of Freedom: Fannie Lou Hamer, Spirit of the Civil Rights Movement, written by Carole Boston Weatherford, illustrated by Ekua Holmes, published by Candlewick Press.

2015 Asian/Pacific American Awards for Literature - Given to exceptional works of literature (published Oct. 2014 - Sept. 2015) representing Asian/Pacific American culture and heritage.

Young Adult
Winner: P.S. I Still Love You, written by Jenny Han, published by Simon & Schuster
Honor: Ink and Ashes, written by Valynne E. Maetani, published by Tu Books

Children’s Books
Winner: Full Cicada Moon by Marilyn Hilton, published by Dial Books
Honor: Blackbird Fly, written by Erin Entrada Kelly, published by Greenwillow

Picture Books
Winner: Juna’s Jar by Jane Bahk, illustrated by Felicia Hoshino,  published by Lee & Low Books

Honor: Drum Dream Girl: How One Girl’s Courage Changed Music written by Margarita Engle, illustrated by Rafael Lopez, published by HM Books for Young Readers

American Indian Library Association's Youth Literature Awards. Presented every two years, the awards were established as a way to identify and honor the very best writing and illustrations by and about American Indians. Books selected to receive the award will present American Indians in the fullness of their humanity in the present and past contexts.

Picture Book Award
Little You, written by Richard Van Camp, illustrated by Julie Flett, published by Orca Book Publishers (2013)

Picture Book Honor
Sitting Bull: Lakota Warrior and Defender of His People, written and illustrated by S.D. Nelson, published by Abrams Books for Young Readers (2015)

Middle School Award Winner
In the Footsteps of Crazy Horse, written by Joseph Marshall III, published by Amulet Books (2015)

Middle School Honor
Dreaming in Indian: Contemporary Native Voices, edited by Lisa Charleyboy and Mary Beth Leatherdale, published by Annick Press (2014)

Young Adult Winner
House of Purple Cedar, written by Tim Tingle, published by Cinco Puntos Press (2013)

Young Adult Honor
Her Land, Her Love, written by Evangeline Parsons Yazzie, published by Salina Bookshelf (2016)

NAACP Image Award - presented by the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People to honor outstanding people of color in film, television, music and literature.

Outstanding Literary Work – Children
Gordon Parks How the Photographer Captured Black and White America, written by Carole Boston Weatherford, illustrated by Jamey Christoph

Outstanding Literary Work – Youth/Teens
X: A Novel, written by Ilyasah Shabazz with Kekla Magoon

Multicultural Children’s Books—2015


Drum Dream Girl, written by Margarita Engle, illustrated by Rafael Lopez, published by HMH Books for Young Readers, HC, ages 4-7
Inspired by the childhood of Millo Castro Zaldarriaga, a Chinese-African-Cuban girl who broke Cuba's traditional taboo against female drummers, Drum Dream Girl tells an inspiring true story for dreamers everywhere.

Pool, illustrated by JiHyeon Lee, published by Chronicle Books, HC, ages 3 - 7
What happens when two shy children meet at a very crowded pool?  Deceptively simple, this masterful book tells a story of quiet moments and surprising encounters, and reminds us that friendship and imagination have no bounds.

Mango, Abuela and Me, written by Meg Medina, illustrated by Angela Dominguez, published by Candlewick, HC, ages 5-8
When a little girl’s far-away grandmother comes to stay, love and patience transcend language in a tender story written by acclaimed author Meg Medina.

Miracle on 133rd Street, written by Sonia Manzano, illustrated by Majorie Priceman, published by Atheneum Books for Young Readers, HC, ages 4-8
An urban family’s dilemma becomes a community celebration in this delectable holiday treat from Sonia Manzano, also known as “Maria” on Sesame Street.

On the Ball, written and illustrated by Brian Pinkney, published by Disney Hyperion, HC, ages 3-5
 Owen loves playing ball. But it doesn't always "love" him back. And after a particularly disastrous day on the field, Owen is benched. He is feeling so low that he doesn't even notice the ball rolling through a hole in the fence until it's gotten away. In his effort to get it back, he discovers that he has more skills than he realizes.

Mixed Me, written by Taye Diggs, Shane Evans, published by Feiwel & Friends, PB, ages 4-8Mike has awesome hair. He has LOTS of energy! His parents love him. And Mike is a PERFECT blend of the two of them. Still, Mike has to answer LOTS of questions about being mixed. And he does, with LOTS of energy and joy in this charming story about a day in the life of a mixed-race child.

Backyard Camp-Out, written by Jerdine Nolen, illustrated by Michelle Henninger, published by Houghton Mifflin, PB, ages 6-9
The backyard campout is tonight. Jada and Jamal Perkins have never slept in a tent before. Neither have their best friends, Carlita Garcia and Josh Cornell. Camping is going to be so much fun. Or is it? It’s really dark in the backyard. And what’s that noise? It’s coming from the bushes.  

Don’t Feed the Geckos, written by Karen English, illustrated by Laura Freeman, published by Clarion Books, HC, ages 6-9, chapter book
Carlos isn’t sure how he feels about the news that his cousin Bernardo will be joining his class at Carver Elementary. But when Bernardo comes to live with him temporarily, taking over Carlos’s top bunk, his spot on the school soccer team, and even his Papi’s attention, Carlos knows he isn’t happy. Worse, Bernardo starts messing with Carlos’s pet geckos! Carlos tries to see past his cousin’s annoying ways, but Bernardo sure doesn’t make it easy. Will Carlos—and his geckos—survive Bernardo's visit? Can he keep the peace for his family’s sake? 
Freedom in Congo Square, written by Carole Boston Weatherford, illustrated by R. Gregory Christie, published by Little Bee, HC, ages 4-8
This poetic, nonfiction story about a little-known piece of African American history captures a human’s capacity to find hope and joy in difficult circumstances and demonstrates how New Orleans' Congo Square was truly freedom’s heart.

I Love My Hair: A Coloring Book of Braids, Coils, and Doodle Dos, written by Andrea Pippins, published by Random House/Schwartz, coloring book
For fans of Johanna Basford’s Secret Garden and Enchanted Forest comes a hip, gorgeous doodle coloring book about all things hair. Unlike other adult coloring books, which depict nature scenes and cityscapes, this title celebrates strong, confident women with a passion for style, design, and fashion. 

Women Who Broke the Rules: Coretta Scott King, written by Virginia Krull, illustrated by Laura Freeman, published by Albert Whitman, PB, ages 7-9
Coretta Scott King was an American civil rights activist and the wife of civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. But she established a distinguished career in activism in her own right, taking part in the Montgomery Bus Boycott and working to pass the Civil Rights Act. After King's death, she founded the Center for Nonviolent Social Change in Atlanta, Georgia, and remained dedicated to fighting for civil rights.

Frederick’s Journey: The Life of Frederick Douglass, written by Doreen Rappaport, illustrated by London Ladd, published by Disney-Hyperion, HC, ages 6-8
In this installment of the critically acclaimed Big Words series, Doreen Rappaport captures Frederick's journey from boy to man, from slavery to freedom, by weaving Frederick's powerful words with her own. London Ladd's strong and evocative illustrations combine with the text to create a moving portrait of an extraordinary life.

Mousetropolis, written and illustrated by R. Gregory Christie, published by Holiday House, HA, HC, ages 4-8
With an exquisite palette and stunning compositions, award-winning illustrator R. Gregory Christie reimagines one of Aesop's most popular fables. City Mouse leaves his noisy apartment for a vacation in the country only to find drab meals, unseen predators, unbearable heat and too much quiet! So City Mouse takes his country cousin to Mousetropolis, where a rodent can indulge in rich food and rub elbows with the elite.

Oscar Lives Next Door, written by Bonnie Farmer, illustrated by Marie Lafrance, published by Owlkids, HC, ages 4-8
Long before Oscar Peterson became a virtuoso jazz pianist, he was a boy who loved to play the trumpet. When a bout of childhood tuberculosis weakened his lungs, Oscar could no longer play his beloved instrument. He took up piano and the rest is history: Oscar went on to become an international jazz piano sensation. Oscar Lives Next Door is a fictional story inspired by these facts.

CJ’s New Basketball, written by Ivy Valentine Pate, illustrated by Chris Padovano, published by Wild Ivy, PB, ages 3-8
CJ gets his very first basketball from Dad on Sunday, but can’t go to a real basketball court until the following Saturday. He decides to practice inside the house every day until he can get to the court. Can CJ stay out of trouble at home for a whole week until the big day?

Sail Away, written by Langston Hughes, Ashley Bryan, published by Atheneum Books for Young Readers, HC, ages 4-8
A celebration of mermaids, wildernesses of waves, and the creatures of the deep through poems by Langston Hughes and cut-paper collage illustrations by multiple Coretta Scott King Award–winner Ashley Bryan.

Little Shaq, written by Shaquille O’Neal, illustrated by Theodore Taylor III, chapter book, ages 5-7
The start of a brand new series by Shaquille O'Neal and illustrated by 2014 Coretta Scott King/John Steptoe New Talent award winner Theodore Taylor III, Little Shaq is sure to be a hit with young readers.

Kamik's First Sled, written by Matilda Sulurayok, illustrated by Qin Leng, published by Inhabit Media, PB, ages 5-7 
Jake’s puppy Kamik is growing quickly, but the dog isn’t becoming any easier to handle. All Jake wants is to raise his puppy into a strong, fast sled dog, but Kamik is far from ready to pull a sled with a dog team. With some advice and a little help from his grandmother, Jake learns basic principles of how to begin training a dog to pull. Kamik finally has his first sled, and he and Jake can finally begin exploring the tundra together. But Jake and Kamik are still inexperienced, and when a blizzard starts blowing in across the tundra, Jake has to rely on his knowledge to get home. Inspired by the life memories of the author, an Inuit elder, this book lovingly presents basic dog-rearing practices that even the youngest dog lover can try.

My Tata Remedies/Los remedies de mi Tata, written by Roni Rivera-Ashford, illustrated by Antonio L. Castro, published by Cinco Puntos Press, HC, ages 7-11
Aaron has asked his grandfather Tata to teach him about the healing remedies he uses. Tata is a neighbor and family elder. People come to him all the time for his soothing solutions and for his compassionate touch and gentle wisdom. Tata knows how to use herbs, teas, and plants to help each one. His wife, Grandmother Nana, is there too, bringing delicious food and humor to help Tata's patients heal. An herbal remedies glossary at the end of the book includes useful information about each plant, plus botanically correct drawings.

Last Stop on Market Street, written by Matt de la Peña, illustrated by Christian Robinson, GP Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers, HC, ages 3-7
Every Sunday after church, CJ and his grandma ride the bus across town. But today, CJ wonders why they don't own a car like his friend Colby. Why doesn’t he have an iPod like the boys on the bus? How come they always have to get off in the dirty part of town? Each question is met with an encouraging answer from grandma, who helps him see the beauty—and fun—in their routine and the world around them.

Juna's Jar, written by Jane Bahk, illustrated by Felicia Hoshino, Lee and Low Books, HC, ages 4-8
Sometimes a simple, everyday object can take you away on great adventures. Juna and her best friend, Hector, have many adventures together, and they love to collect things in empty kimchi jars. Then one day, Hector unexpectedly moves away without having a chance to say good-bye. Juna is heartbroken and left to wonder who will on go on adventures with her. Coupled with dreamy watercolor illustrations by Felicia Hoshino, Juna's Jar is a heart-warming and whimsical tale about the power of the imagination.

Lillian’s Right to Vote: A Celebration of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, written by Jonah Winter, illustrated by Shane W. Evans, HC, ages 5-9Author Jonah Winter and Coretta Scott King
Illustrator Award winner Shane W. Evans vividly recall America’s battle for civil rights in this lyrical, poignant account of one woman’s fierce determination to make it up the hill and make her voice heard.

Frederick’s Journey: The Life of Frederick Douglass, written by Doreen Rappaport, illustrated by London Ladd, Jump at the Sun, HC, ages 6-9
Frederick Douglass's journey from slavery to international renown as writer and lecturer is broadly sketched here by Doreen Rappaport, whose nonfiction and historical fiction books have been acclaimed for their meticulous research and varied literary styles.

Boats for Papa, written and illustrated by Jessixa Bagley, Roaring Brook Press, HC, ages 3-7
Jessica Bagley's tender watercolors and lyrical text give weight and volume to a family's grief and her portrayal of Buckley's hope and his mother's acts of love are heartbreakingly beautiful and authentic. The ambiguity of Papa's absence allows this story to transcend specifics and gives it a timeless and universal appeal.

Emmanuel’s Dream: The True Story of Emmanuel Ofosu Yeboah, written by Laurie Ann Thompson, illustrated by Sean Qualls, Schwartz & Wade, HC, ages 4-8
Born in Ghana, West Africa, with one deformed leg, Emmanuel was dismissed by most people—but not by his mother, who taught him to reach for his dreams. As a boy, he hopped to school more than two miles each way and earned to play soccer. Later, he became a cyclist and rode an astonishing four hundred miles across Ghana in 2001, spreading his powerful message: disability is not inability.

Poet: The Remarkable Story of George Moses Horton, written and illustrated by Don Tate, Peachtree Publishers, HC, ages 4-8
In the nineteenth century, George Moses Horton, an enslaved man in North Carolina, taught himself to read and earned money to purchase his time though not his freedom. Horton became the first African American to be published in the South, protesting slavery in the form of verse.

My Three Best Friends and Me, Zulay, written by Cari Best, illustrated by Vanessa Brantley Newton, Farrar, Straus and Giroux, HC, ages 4-8
Zulay and her three best friends are all in the same first grade class and study the same things, even though Zulay is blind. When their teacher asks her students what activity they want to do on Field Day, Zulay surprises everyone when she says she wants to run a race. With the help of a special aide and the support of her friends, Zulay does just that.

Bottle Cap Boys Dancing on Royal Street, written by Rita Williams-Garcia, illustrated by Damian Ward, Marimba Books, HC, ages 4-9
Tap dancing on sidewalks, especially in the city's French Quarter, is a New Orleans tradition as familiar to some as Jazz, Creole and Cajun food and Mardi Gras. In Bottle Cap Boys Dancing on Royal Street, award-winning author Rita Williams-Garcia introduces two bottle cap dancers, brothers Randy and Rudy. Through rich and upbeat rhyme, Williams-Garcia gives voice to the dancing and the youngsters who keep this unique New Orleans tradition alive.

Trombone Shorty, written by Troy Andrews, illustrated by Bryan Collier, Harry N. Abrams, HC, ages 4-8
Hailing from the Tremé neighborhood in New Orleans, Troy “Trombone Shorty” Andrews got his nickname by wielding a trombone twice as long as he was high. A prodigy, he was leading his own band by age six, and today this Grammy-nominated artist headlines the legendary New Orleans Jazz Fest. Along with esteemed illustrator Bryan Collier, Andrews has created a lively picture book autobiography about how he followed his dream of becoming a musician.

Sunday Shopping, written by Sally Derby, illustrated by Shadra Strickland, Lee & Low Books, HC, ages 5-8
Sunday nights are special for Evie and Grandma. That's when they go on their weekly shopping spree. Overflowing with whimsy and a sweet grandmother-granddaughter relationship, this picture book is a joyous celebration of imagination, family love, and making a lot out of what you've got.

The Book Itch: Freedom, Truth & Harlem’s Greatest Bookstore, written by Vaunda Micheaux Nelson, illustrated by R. Gregory Christie, Carolrhoda Picture Books, HC, ages 5-9
In the 1930s, Lewis Michaux Sr., had an itch he needed to scratch a book itch. How to scratch it? He started a bookstore in Harlem and named it the National Memorial African Bookstore. This is the story of how Lewis Michaux Sr. and his bookstore fostered new ideas and helped people stand up for what they believed in.

Gordon Parks: How the Photographer Captured Black and White America, written by Carole Boston Weatherford, illustrated by Jamey Christoph, Albert Whitman & Company, HC, ages 5-8
This picture book biography of Gordon Parks highlights the growth of his career as a photographer. Despite receiving little encouragement at school.  This effective overview is a solid addition for those looking to beef up their biography collections. Fans of Weatherford's Leontyne Price: Voice of a Century (Knopf, 2014), Becoming Billie Holiday (Wordsong, 2009), and I, Matthew Henson: Polar Explorer (Walker, 2007) will appreciate this attractive offering.

Songs I Love to Sing, (I Love To series), written by Cheryl Willis Hudson, illustrated by Laura Freeman, Marimba Books, PB, ages 4-8
Music makes us happy and there are plenty of familiar tunes in this book that will make children want to sing along. Join the fun while you hum, clap or simply carry a tune in Songs I Love to Sing.

My Pen, written and illustrated by Christopher Myers, Disney-Hyperion, HC, ages 3-7
My pen rides dinosaurs and hides an elephant in a teacup. What can your pen do? Acclaimed author and illustrator Christopher Myers uses rich black-and-white illustrations to bring a sketchbook to life, showing that with a simple pen, a kid can do anything!

Wangari Maathai: The Woman Who Planted Millions of Trees, written by Franck Prevot, illustrated by Aurella Tronty, Charlesbridge, HC, ages 6-9
Wangari Maathai received the Nobel Peace Prize in 2004 for her efforts to lead women in a nonviolent struggle to bring peace and democracy to Africa through its reforestation. Her organization planted over thirty million trees in thirty years. This beautiful picture book tells the story of an amazing woman and an inspiring idea.

Mama’s Nightingale: A Story of Immigration and Separation, written by Edwidge Danticat, illustrated by Leslie Staub, Dial Books, HC, ages 5-8
After Saya's mother is sent to an immigration detention center, Saya finds comfort in listening to her mother's warm greeting on their answering machine. To ease the distance between them while she’s in jail, Mama begins sending Saya bedtime stories inspired by Haitian folklore on cassette tape. With stirring illustrations, this tender tale shows the human side of immigration and imprisonment—and shows how every child has the power to make a difference.

Feelings I Love to Share, (I Love To series) written by Wade Hudson, illustrated by Laura Freeman, PB, ages 4-8
Feelings I Love to Share explores the many feelings youngsters experience: among them happiness, sadness, disappointment, boredom and sheer joy - all feelings that help them learn and grow. This delightful title will resonate with children everywhere.

Let the Faithful Come, written by Zetta Elliott, illustrated by Charity Russell, CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, PB, ages 5-8
This lyrical retelling of the traditional Christmas story serves as a plea for greater compassion and unity in our contemporary world. Peace and goodwill are values celebrated during the holidays, but they should also be applied to the daily struggle of those traveling over land and sea in search of hope and sanctuary.

Love from Anna Hibiscus, written by Atinuke, illustrated by Lauren Tobia, Walker Books, HC, ages 7-10
When Anna Hibiscus goes to market one day and a boy steals a banana from her, she runs after him. It turns out that the boy is poor and lives alone. Anna befriends the boy and when he becomes ill, Anna makes sure he gets the medical help he needs.

Granddaddy's Turn: A Journey to the Ballot Box, written by Michael S. Bandy & Eric Stein, illustrated by James Ransome, published by Candlewick, HC, ages 6-9
Based on the true story of one family’s struggle for voting rights in the civil rights–era south, this moving tale shines an emotional spotlight on a dark facet of U.S. history.
A Day at Grandma’s, written by Mi-ae Lee, illustrated by Yang-sook Choi, published by Tantan, HC, ages 3-5
Yuin is spending the day at her grandmother’s house. She is busy and eager to explore with Grandma, but from dawn to dusk, she thinks about—and misses— her mama at home. Yuin’s mama is missing her, too. Soon enough, Yuin is home and happy again in her mother’s arms! Hands-on activities and elementary concepts of time and routines expand this lovely picture book.

Bright Sky, Starry City, written by Uma Krishnaswami, illustrated by Aimee Sicuro, published by Groundwood, HC, ages 6-9
Phoebe helps her dad set up telescopes on the sidewalk outside his store. It’s a special night — Saturn and Mars are going to appear together in the sky. But will Phoebe be able to see them with all the city lights? Raindrops begin to fall, followed by lightning and thunder. Phoebe is filled with disappointment as she and her father hurry inside to wait out the storm. But suddenly the power fails and then, amazingly, the rain and clouds disappear. Phoebe and her dad and all kinds of people spill into the street. And there, in the bright night sky, the splendor of the planets and a multitude of stars are revealed for all to see. An illustrated afterword includes information about the solar system, planetary conjunctions and rings, moons, telescopes and light pollution. A glossary and recommended further reading are also included.

Middle Grades

March: Book Two, written by John Lewis, illustrated by Nate Powell, IDW Top Shelf, PB, ages 12 and up
In this second volume, Representative Lewis continues describing his experiences with the civil rights movement. As in the first book, Lewis attends Barack Obama's inauguration, flashing back to his life as a young man taking part in the fight that would make it possible for America to eventually elect its first black president. Visually stunning, the black-and-white illustrations convey the emotions of this turbulent time, from Lewis's fear and pain while in prison to Governor George Wallace's sneering indifference during his "Segregation forever" speech. This is a unique insider’s view of the insider's view of the civil rights movement.
Sitting Bull: Lakota Warrior and Defender of his People, written by S.D. Nelson, Harry N. Abrams, HC, Ages 8-12
"The book is engagingly told in the first person, with Sitting Bull describing his childhood training to be a warrior and a hunter...The book is visually appealing, combining art inspired by ledger book art style (a note explains that American Indians incarcerated on military bases sometimes were given discarded books in which to draw) with period photographs and quotations, demonstrating the intersection of two cultures in a tangible manner... this portrait of a committed leader provides a unique perspective on the man and his time period."(School Library Journal)

Willimena Rules: 9 Steps to the Best, Worst, Greatest Holiday Ever! written by Valerie Wilson Wesley, Just Us Books, Inc., PB, ages 7-11 
Christmas and Kwanzaa are right around the corner and Willimena is usually excited about her favorite time of the year. But this year, no one feels much like celebrating. Aunt Laura lost her job and Dad and Mom say that big changes are coming for the family -- changes that mean Willie may not get that bike she wanted. Christmas and Kwanzaa are supposed to be joyful, but this year is turning out to be the worst. Can Willie find a way to bring "happy" back to the holidays?

Urban Tribes: Native Americans in the City, edited by Lisa Charleyboy, illustrated by Ross Kinnaird, published by Annick Press, PB, ages 12 and up 

Young, urban Natives powerfully show how their culture and values can survive—and enrich—city life. Urban Tribes offers unique insight into this growing and often misperceived group. Emotionally potent and visually arresting, the anthology profiles young urban Natives from across North America, exploring how they connect with Native culture and values in their contemporary lives. Their stories are as diverse as they are. From a young Dene woman pursuing a MBA at Stanford to a Pima photographer in Phoenix to a Mohawk actress in New York, these urban Natives share their unique perspectives to bridge the divide between their past and their future, their cultural home, and their adopted cities.

Rhythm Ride: A Road Trip through the Motown Sound
, written by Andrea Davis Pinkney, Roaring Brook Press, HC, ages 10-14
From Berry Gordy and his remarkable vision to the Civil Rights movement, from the behind-the-scenes musicians, choreographers, and song writers to the most famous recording artists of the century, Andrea Davis Pinkney takes readers on a Rhythm Ride through the story of Motown.

Ira’s Shakespeare Dream, written by Glenda Armand, illustrated by Floyd Cooper, published by Lee & Low, HC, ages 9-12
Ira Aldridge dreamed of being on stage one day performing the great works of William Shakespeare. He spent every chance he got at the local theaters, memorizing each actor s lines for all of Shakespeare s plays. Ira just knew he could be a great Shakespearean actor if only given the chance. But in the early 1800s, only white actors were allowed to perform Shakespeare. But through perseverance and determination, Ira became one of the most celebrated Shakespearean actors throughout Europe. Illustrated by award-winning artist Floyd Cooper, Ira s Shakespeare Dream is a captivating tribute to the inspiring life of Ira Aldridge, and to the renowned works of William Shakespeare.

My Seneca Village, written by Marilyn Nelson, published by Namelos, HC & PB, grades 5 and up
This beautifully crafted and powerful collection of poems deals with a brief period (1825–57) in New York City's storied past. Seneca Village, on Manhattan's Upper West Side, was a thriving multiethnic community of African Americans, Irish and German immigrants, and, possibly, some Native Americans, until it was decimated by the creation of Central Park. This collection touches on historical truths (footnoted throughout) but introduces a fleeting time and place through the everyday hopes and dreams of its residents.

Listen, Slowly, written by Thanhha Lai, published HarperCollins, HC, ages 8-12
A California girl born and raised, Mai can’t wait to spend her vacation at the beach. Instead, she has to travel to Vietnam with her grandmother, who is going back to find out what really happened to her husband during the Vietnam War. Mai’s parents think this trip will be a great opportunity for their out-of-touch daughter to learn more about her culture. But to Mai, those are their roots, not her own. To survive her trip, Mai must find a balance between her two completely different worlds.

In the Footsteps of Crazy Horse, written by Joseph Marshall III, illustrated by James Mark Yellowhawk, published Harry N. Abrams, and HC grades 3-6
Jimmy McLean’s grandfather tells him the heroic deeds of the Lakota leader Crazy Horse, who took up arms against the US federal government to fight against encroachments on the territories and way of life of the Lakota people, including leading a war party to victory at the Battle of the Little Bighorn. Along with Sitting Bull, Crazy Horse was the last of the Lakota to surrender his people to the US army. Through his grandfather’s tales about the famous warrior, Jimmy learns more about his Lakota heritage and, ultimately, himself.

A Blanket of Butterflies, written by Richard Van Camp, illustrated by Scott B. Henderson, published by Highwater Press, an imprint of Portage & Main Press, PB, 12 and up
This graphic novel explores the journey of Shinobu, a mysterious stranger who visits Fort Smith, NWT, to retrieve his family's samurai suit of armor and sword from the local museum. When he discovers that his grandfather's sword has been lost in a poker game to the man they call "Benny the Bank," he sets out to retrieve it with the help of a young boy, Sonny, and his grandmother. Together, they face Benny and his men, Torchy, Sfen and the giant known as Flinch, and come to an unexpected realization.

Funny Bones: Posada and His Day of the Dead Calaveras, written by Duncan Tonatiuh, published by Harry N. Abrams, HC, grades 3-6  
Funny Bones tells the story of how the amusing calaveras—skeletons performing various every day or festive activities—came to be. They are the creation of Mexican artist José Guadalupe (Lupe) Posada (1852–1913. The drawings have become synonymous with Mexico’s Día de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) festival. Author Duncan Tonatiuh brings to light the remarkable life and work of a man whose art is beloved by many but whose name has remained in obscurity.

Echo, written by Pam Muñoz Ryan, published by Scholastic, HC, ages 10-14
Lost and alone in a forbidden forest, Otto meets three mysterious sisters and suddenly finds himself entwined in a puzzling quest involving a prophecy, a promise, and a harmonica. Music, magic, and a real-life miracle are meld in this genre-defying masterpiece from storytelling maestro Pam Muñoz Ryan. Richly imagined and masterfully crafted, ECHO pushes the boundaries of genre and form, and shows us what is possible in how we tell stories. The result is an impassioned, uplifting, and virtuosic tour de force that will resound in your heart long after the last note has been struck.

Blackbird Fly, written by Erin Entrada Kelly, illustrated by Betsy Peterschmidt, published by Greenwillow Books, ages 8-12
Future rock star or friendless misfit? That’s no choice at all. In this acclaimed novel, twelve-year-old Apple grapples with being different; with friends and backstabbers; and with following her dreams. Publishers Weekly called Blackbird Fly “a true triumph,” and the Los Angeles Times Book Review said, “Apple soars like the eponymous blackbird of her favorite Beatles song.”

Bayou Magic
, written by Jewell Parker Rhodes, published by Little Brown Books for Young Readers, HC, ages 8-12
A coming-of-age tale rich with folk magic. Set in the wake of the Gulf oil spill, this coming-of-age tale, rich with folk magic, celebrates hope, friendship, and family, and captures the wonder of life in the Deep South.

Poems in the Attic
, written by Nikki Grimes, illustrated by Elizabeth Zunon, HC, published by Lee & Low Books, ages 6-11
Sweet and accessible but never simplistic, this collection captures the experience of a military childhood with graceful sophistication. Grimes uses different styles of poem for each voice (free verse for the daughter and tanka poems for the mother), a choice that she discusses in an explanatory note on poetry forms that will serve budding poets and teachers alike. Rendered in acrylic, oil, and collage, Zunon's warm, vibrant illustrations complement the text perfectly. Readers with an especially keen interest in the locations highlighted can look to a complete list of Air Force Bases appended.

Dayshaun’s Gift
, written by Zetta Elliott, illustrated by Alex Portal, published by CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, PB
Summer vacation has just begun and Dayshaun wants to spend Saturday morning playing his new video game. But Dayshaun's mother has other plans: she volunteers at a nearby community garden and that means Dayshaun has to volunteer, too. When Dayshaun puts on his grandfather's grubby old gardening hat, something unexpected happens—the hands of time turn backward and Dayshaun finds himself in the free Black community of Weeksville during the summer of 1863!  Dayshaun’s Gift is Book #2 in the City Kids series.

Voice of Freedom:
Fannie Lou Hamer: The Spirit of the Civil Rights Movement, written by Carole Boston Weatherford, illustrated by Ekua Holmes, published by Candlewick Press, HC, ages 9-12
Despite fierce prejudice and abuse, even being beaten to within an inch of her life, Fannie Lou Hamer was a champion of civil rights from the 1950s until her death in 1977. Featuring vibrant mixed-media art full of intricate detail, Voice of Freedom celebrates Fannie Lou Hamer’s life and legacy with a message of hope, determination, and strength.

Stella by Starlight
, written by Sharon Draper, published by Atheneum, HC, ages 9-13
When the Ku Klux Klan’s unwelcome reappearance rattles Stella’s segregated southern town, bravery battles prejudice in this Depression-era tour de force from Sharon Draper, the New York Times bestselling author of Out of My Mind.

Chasing Freedom: The Life Journey of Harriet Tubman and Susan B. Anthony
, written by Nikki Grimes and Michele Woods, published by Orchard Books, HC, Grades 3-6
What if Harriet Tubman and Susan B. Anthony sat down over tea to reminisce about their extraordinary lives? What would they recall of their triumphs and struggles as they fought to achieve civil rights for African Americans and equal rights for women? And what other historical figures played parts in their stories? These questions led Coretta Scott King Award winner Nikki Grimes to create Chasing Freedom, an engaging work of historical fiction about two of the nineteenth century's most powerful and inspiring women.

The Streetball Crew: Book Two, Stealing the Game, written by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Raymond Obstfeld, published by Disney Hyperion, HC, ages 8-12
Chris Richards has always looked up to Jax, his older brother and his parents' "golden child." Lately, though, Jax has been full of surprises. It turns out that Jax bet on the game, hoping to earn enough money to repay a debt to someone who doesn't forgive easily.

The Sweetest Heist in History (Randi Rhodes Ninja Detective)
written by Octavia Spenser, published by Simon and Schuster, ages 8-12
Chris Richards has always looked up to Jax, his older brother and his parents' "golden child." While Chris tries to walk a thin tightrope between helping his brother and staying out of trouble, his friend Theo does some behind-the-scenes detective work to learn what Jax has been up to. The day Chris is roped into a police investigation is the day he realizes he made the wrong play.

Dork Diaries 9: Tales From a Not So Dorky Drama Queen
, written by Rachel Renée Russell, Aladdin, HC, ages 9-13
Nikki Maxwell’s worst nightmare comes true in book nine of the #1 New York Times bestselling Dork Diaries series! A certain member of the CCP girls Dork fans know all about has gotten her hands on Nikki’s diary and has decided to share some thoughts of her own…Find out what happens when Nikki’s worst nightmare becomes a reality. Welcome to Mackenzie’s world!!

Finding Someplace
, written by Denise Lewis Patrick, published by Henry Holt and Co., HC, ages 8-12
Reesie Boone just knows that thirteen is going to be her best year yet-this will be the year she makes her very first fashion design on her Ma Maw's sewing machine. She'll skip down the streets of New Orleans with her best friends, Ayanna and Orlando, and everyone will look at her in admiration. But on Reesie's birthday, everything changes. Hurricane Katrina hits her city. Stranded at home alone, Reesie takes refuge with her elderly neighbor, Miss Martine. The waters rise. They escape in a boat. And soon Reesie is reunited with her family. But her journey back home has only begun.

Shadows of Sherwood
(Robyn Hoodlum series) written by Kekla Magoon, published by Bloomsbury USA, HC, ages 8-12
The night her parents disappear, twelve-year-old Robyn Loxley must learn to fend for herself. Her home, Nott City, has been taken over by a harsh governor, Ignomus Crown. After fleeing for her life, Robyn has no choice but to join a band of strangers-misfit kids, each with their own special talent for mischief. Setting out to right the wrongs of Crown's merciless government, they take their outlaw status in stride. Kicking off a new series with an unforgettable heroine, readers will be treated to feats of courage and daring deeds as Robyn and her band find their way in this cruel, new world.

, written by Ronald L. Smith, published by Clarion Books, HC, ages 10-12
Twelve-year-old Hoodoo Hatcher was born into a family with a rich tradition of practicing folk magic: hoodoo, as most people call it. But even though his name is Hoodoo, he can't seem to cast a simple spell. When a mysterious man called the Stranger comes to town, Hoodoo starts dreaming of the dead rising from their graves. Even worse, he soon learns the Stranger is looking for a boy. Not just any boy. A boy named Hoodoo. Set amid the swamps, red soil, and sweltering heat of small town Alabama in the 1930s, Hoodoo is infused with a big dose of creepiness leavened with gentle humor.   

President of the Whole Sixth Grade
, written by Sherri Winston, published by Little, Brown, HC, ages 8-12
Brianna Justice is determined to raise enough money for the big class trip to Washington, D.C., but she's up against a lot: classmates who all pretend to be something they're not, a new nemesis determined to run her out of office, and the sinking feeling she's about to lose her two best friends. But just when she begins to lose hope, she comes to realize that sometimes surprises can turn out even better than the best-laid plans.

The Toymaker’s Apprentice
, written by Sherri L. Smith, published by G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Children, HC, ages 10 and up
Stefan Drosselmeyer is a reluctant apprentice to his toymaker father until the day his world is turned upside down. His father is kidnapped and Stefan is enlisted by his mysterious cousin, Christian Drosselmeyer, to find a mythical nut to save a princess who has been turned into a wooden doll. Embarking on a wild adventure through Germany, Stefan must save Boldavia’s princess and his own father from the fanatical Mouse Queen and her seven-headed Mouse Prince, both of whom have sworn to destroy the Drosselmeyer family

The Middle School Rules of Charles “Peanut” Tillman
, written by Sean Jensen and Max Smith, published by Broadstreet Publishing, HC, ages 8-12
The Middle School Rules of Charles Tillman will feature the defining childhood stories of a young, well-traveled boy nicknamed “Peanut,” who had to deal with racism, adapt to constant relocation, and endure the divorce of his parents. Inspired by faith and family, Tillman persevered and carved out an indelible mark both on the football field as one of the greatest cornerback in the storied history of the Chicago Bears and off the field. 

The Jumbies
, written by Tracey Baptiste, HC, published by Algonquin Young Readers, ages 9-12
Corinne La Mer isn’t afraid of anything. Not scorpions, not the boys who tease her, and certainly not jumbies. She knows that jumbies aren’t real; they’re just creatures parents make up to frighten their children. But on All Hallows’ Eve, Corinne chases an agouti all the way into the forbidden woods. Those shining yellow eyes that follow her to the edge of the trees, they couldn’t belong to a jumbie. Or could they?

Amphibians’ End: a Kulipari Novel
written by Trevor Pryce and Joel Naftali, illustrated by Stanford Greene, published by Harry N. Abrams, HC, ages 8-12
In this third book of the Kulipari series, the future of the Amphibilands has never looked so bleak. With Lord Marmoo stronger than ever and still maniacally bent on taking over the outback, Darel can’t fathom why the Rainbow Serpent wants him to lower the Veil, the Amphibilands’ only source of protection. But the Serpent’s message is clear, and in preparation for the inevitable battle, Darel and the Kulipari go out in search of someone—anyone—to fight on their side. The Kulipari trilogy comes to its thrilling conclusion in this action-packed adventure by NFL veteran Trevor Pryce and acclaimed comics artist Sanford Greene.

Hit & Miss
, written by Derek Jeter and Paul Mantell, published by Jeter Publishing, HC, ages 8-12
The second book in the New York Times bestselling Jeter Publishing imprint, Hit & Miss is a middle grade baseball novel inspired by the youth of legendary sports icon and role model Derek Jeter.

The Smoking Mirror
, written by David Bowles, published by IFWG Publishing, PB, age 12 and up, a 2015 Pura Belpre Author Honor book.
Carol and Johnny Garza are 12-year-old twins whose lives in a small Texas town are forever changed by their mother's unexplained disappearance. Shipped off to relatives in Mexico by their grieving father, the twins soon learn that their mother is a nagual, a shapeshifter, and that they have inherited her powers. In order to rescue her, they will have to descend into the Aztec underworld and face the dangers that await them.

The Emancipation of Grandpa Sandy Wills,
written by Cheryl Wills, published by Lightswitch, HC, ages 9-12
In a one-of-a-kind brilliantly illustrated children's book that's based on a true story, veteran television journalist Cheryl Wills tells a powerful tale about her enslaved ancestor who fought for his freedom as a soldier during The Civil War. Overflowing with lessons of perseverance and the power of one's imagination.

Jump Back, Paul: The Life and Times of Paul Lawrence Dunba
r, written by Sally Derby, illustrated by Sean Qualls, published by Candlewick, HC, ages 9-12
Narrating in a voice full of admiration and respect, Sally Derby introduces Paul Laurence Dunbar’s life and poetry to readers young and old, aided by Sean Qualls’s striking black-and-white illustrations.
Blackbird Fly, written by Erin Entrada Kelly, illustrated by Betsy Peterschmidt, published by Greenwillow, HC, ages 9-12
Future rock star or friendless misfit? That’s no choice at all. In this acclaimed novel, twelve-year-old Apple grapples with being different; with friends and backstabbers; and with following her dreams. Publishers Weekly called Blackbird Fly “a true triumph,” and the Los Angeles Times Book Review said, “Apple soars like the eponymous blackbird of her favorite Beatles song.”

Full Cicada Moon, written by Marilyn Hilton, published by, Dial Books, HC, ages 9-12

It's 1969, and the Apollo 11 mission is getting ready to go to the moon. But for half-black, half-Japanese Mimi, moving to a predominantly white Vermont town is enough to make her feel alien. Suddenly, Mimi's appearance is all anyone notices. She struggles to fit in with her classmates, even as she fights for her right to stand out by entering science competitions and joining Shop Class instead of Home Ec. And even though teachers and neighbors balk at her mixed-race family and her refusals to conform, Mimi’s dreams of becoming an astronaut never fade—no matter how many times she’s told no. This historical middle-grade novel is told in poems from Mimi's perspective over the course of one year in her new town, and shows readers that positive change can start with just one person speaking up.

The Way Home Looks Now, written by Wendy Wan-Long Shang, published by Scholastic, HC, ages 9-12

From the award-winning author of  The Great Wall of Lucy Wu comes a beautifully written and poignant story of family and loss, healing and friendship, and the great American pastime, baseball. Twelve-year-old Peter Lee and his family are baseball lovers, who bond over back lot games and talk of the Pittsburgh Pirates. But when tragedy strikes, the family flies apart and baseball no longer seems to matter. Is that true? Peter wonders if just maybe the game they love can pull them together and bring them back, safe at home.

Capital Days: Michael Shiner's Journal and the Growth of Our Nation's Capital, written by Tonya Bolden, published by Harry N. Abrams, ages 9-12
Capital Days introduces young readers to Washington, D.C., during the early to mid-19th century. Spanning more than 60 years, the story of Michael Shiner (c. 1804–1880) highlights a period of immense change in our country and its capital. Covering the burning of the city during the War of 1812, the rebuilding of the Capitol and White House, the raising of the Washington Monument, and on through the Civil War, the end of slavery, and numerous other “capital days,” this book offers readers fresh insights and background on how our nation’s capital came to be. The book includes excerpts from Shiner’s diary, other primary sources, archival images, and a timeline. Much as she did in Maritcha and Searching for Sarah Rector, award-winning author Tonya Bolden expertly examines the intricacies of American history through the lens of one relatable person’s life.


Shadowshaper, written by Daniel José Older, published by Arthur A. Levine Books, HC, grade 7 and up
Sierra Santiago planned an easy summer of making art and hanging out with her friends. But then a corpse crashes the first party of the season. Her stroke-ridden grandfather starts apologizing over and over. And when the murals in her neighborhood begin to weep real tears... Well, something more sinister than the usual Brooklyn ruckus is going on. Full of a joyful, defiant spirit and writing as luscious as a Brooklyn summer night, Shadowshaper introduces a heroine and magic unlike anything else in fantasy fiction, and marks the YA debut of a bold new voice.

Enchanted Air: Two Cultures, Two Wings: A Memoir
, written by Margarita Engle, illustrated by Edel Rodriguez, published by Atheneum Books for Young Readers, HC, age 12 and up
Margarita is a girl from two worlds. Her heart lies in Cuba, her mother’s tropical island country, a place so lush with vibrant life that it seems like a fairy tale kingdom. But most of the time she lives in Los Angeles, lonely in the noisy city and dreaming of the summers when she can take a plane through the enchanted air to her beloved island. Words and images are her constant companions, friendly and comforting when the children at school are not. Then a revolution breaks out in Cuba. Margarita fears for her far-away family. When the hostility between Cuba and the United States erupts at the Bay of Pigs Invasion, Margarita’s worlds collide in the worst way possible. How can the two countries she loves hate each other so much? And will she ever get to visit her beautiful island again.

Drowned City: Hurricane Katrina & New Orleans
, Written by Don Brown, published by HMH Books for Young Readers, HC, age 12 and up
Don Brown’s kinetic art and as-it-happens narrative capture both the tragedy and triumph of one of the worst natural disasters in American history. Hurricane Katrina. A portion of the proceeds from this book has been donated to Habitat for Humanity New Orleans.

Show and Prove
, written by Sofia Quintero, published by Knopf Books for Young Readers, HC, ages 12 and up
The summer of 1983 was the summer hip-hop proved its staying power. The South Bronx is steeped in Reaganomics, war in the Middle East, and the twin epidemics of crack and AIDS, but Raymond “Smiles” King and Guillermo “Nike” Vega have more immediate concerns. Raw and poignant, this is a story of music, urban plight, and racial tension that’s as relevant today as it was in 1983.

This Side of Home
, written by Renée Watson, published by Bloomsbury USA Children’s, HC, ages 12 and up
Identical twins Nikki and Maya have been on the same page for everything-friends, school, boys and starting off their adult lives at a historically African-American college. But as their neighborhood goes from rough-and-tumble to up-and-coming, suddenly filled with pretty coffee shops and boutiques, Nikki is thrilled while Maya feels like their home is slipping away. Suddenly, the sisters who had always shared everything must confront their dissenting feelings on the importance of their ethnic and cultural identities and, in the process, learn to separate themselves from the long shadow of their identity as twins.

The Boy in the Black Suit
, written by Jason Reynolds, published by Atheneum, HC, ages 12 and up
Just when seventeen-year-old Matt thinks he can’t handle one more piece of terrible news, he meets a girl who’s dealt with a lot more—and who just might be able to clue him in on how to rise up when life keeps knocking him down—in this “vivid, satisfying, and ultimately upbeat tale of grief, redemption, and grace” (Kirkus Reviews) from the Coretta Scott King – John Steptoe Award–winning author of When I Was the Greatest.

X: A Novel
, written by Ilyasah and Kekla Magoon, published by Candlewick, HC, ages 12 and up
Co-written by Malcolm X’s daughter, this riveting and revealing novel follows the formative years of the man whose words and actions shook the world.

Gone Crazy in Alabama
, written by Rita Williams-Garcia, published by Harper Collins/Amistad, HC, ages 12 and up
Newbery Honor winner and New York Times bestselling author Rita Williams-Garcia tells the story of the Gaither sisters, who are about to learn what it's like to be fish out of water as they travel from the streets of Brooklyn to the rural South for the summer of a lifetime. Powerful and humorous, this companion to the award-winning One Crazy Summer and P.S. Be Eleven will be enjoyed by fans of the first two books as well as by readers meeting these memorable sisters for the first time.

, written by Lamar Giles, published by HarperTeen, HC, age 12 and up
The one secret she cares about keeping—her identity—is about to be exposed. Unless Lauren "Panda" Daniels—an anonymous photoblogger who specializes in busting classmates and teachers in compromising positions—plays along with her blackmailer's little game of dare. But when the game turns deadly, Panda doesn't know what to do. And she may need to step out of the shadows to save herself . . . and everyone else on the Admirer's hit list.

Tiny Pretty Things
, written by Sona Charaipotra and Dhonielle Clayton, published by HarperTeen, HC, age 12 and up
Gigi, Bette, and June, three top students at an exclusive Manhattan ballet school, have seen their fair share of drama. Free-spirited new girl Gigi just wants to dance—but the very act might kill her. Privileged New Yorker Bette's desire to escape the shadow of her ballet star sister brings out a dangerous edge in her. And perfectionist June needs to land a lead role this year or her controlling mother will put an end to her dancing dreams forever. When every dancer is both friend and foe, the girls will sacrifice, manipulate, and backstab to be the best of the best.

Delicate Monsters
, written by Stephanie Kuehn, published by St. Martin’s Griffin, HC, age14 and up
Haunted is a good word for fifteen-year-old Miles Tate. Miles can see the future, after all. And he knows his vision of tragic violence at his school will come true, because his visions always do. That's what he tells the new girl in town. The one who listens to him. The one who recognizes the darkness in his past. But can Miles stop the violence? Or has the future already been written? Maybe tragedy is his destiny. Maybe it's all of theirs.

Rid wit’ Me Part 2
, written by Joy Deja King, published by A King Production Presents a Young Diamond Book, PB, age 12 and up
The Romeo and Juliet of the streets are back in Ride Wit' Me part 2. Mercedes and Dalvin are fighting to keep their love intact and make it down the aisle. Will the two lovebirds be able to overcome their obstacles and finally become husband and wife? Find out in this next installment.

, written by Edwidge Danticat, published by Scholastic, HC, ages 12 and up
Untwine is a haunting and mesmerizing story about sisterhood, family, love, and loss by literary luminary Edwidge Danticat.  In this spellbinding tale, lyrical and filled with love, mystery, humor, and heartbreak. Award-winning Danticat brings her extraordinary talent to this graceful and unflinching examination of the bonds of friendship, romance, family, the horrors of loss, and the strength we must discover in ourselves when all seems hopeless.

Everything, Everything
, written by Nicola Yoon, published by Delacorte, HC, age 12 and up
My disease is as rare as it is famous. Basically, I’m allergic to the world. I don’t leave my house, have not left my house in seventeen years. The only people I ever see are my mom and my nurse, Carla.  But then one day, a moving truck arrives next door. I look out my window, and I see him. He's tall, lean and wearing all black—black T-shirt, black jeans, black sneakers, and a black knit cap that covers his hair completely. He catches me looking and stares at me. I stare right back. His name is Olly. Maybe we can’t predict the future, but we can predict some things. For example, I am certainly going to fall in love with Olly. It’s almost certainly going to be a disaster.

Juba! A Novel
, written by Walter Dean Meyers, HC, published by Amistad, 12 and up
In New York Times bestselling author Walter Dean Myers's last novel, he delivers a gripping story based on the life of a real dancer known as Master Juba, who lived in the nineteenth century. This historical novel includes photographs, maps, and other images from Juba's time and an afterword from Walter Dean Myers's wife about the writing process of Juba!

Monster: A Graphic Nove
l, written Walter Dean Myers, adapted by Guy A. Sims and illustrated by Dawud Anyabwile, published by Amistad, PB, ages 12 and up
A stunning black-and-white graphic novel adaptation of Walter Dean Myers's Michael L. Printz Award winner and New York Times bestseller Monster, adapted by Guy Sims and illustrated by Dawud Anyabwile. Fans of Monster and of the work of Walter Dean Myers—and even kids who think they don't like to read—will devour this graphic adaptation.

See No Color
, written by Shannon Gibney, published by Carolrhoda Labs, HC, age 12 and up
Alex is biracial and adopted, and she is a stellar baseball player just like her father.  She begins to question who she really is. She's always dreamed of playing pro baseball just like her father, but can she really do it? Does she truly fit in with her white family? Who were her biological parents? What does it mean to be black? If she's going to find answers, Alex has to come to terms with her adoption, her race, and the dreams she thought would always guide her.

This Way Home
, written by Wes Moore and Shawn Goodman, published by Delacorte, HC, ages 12 and up
Elijah Thomas knows one thing better than anyone around him: basketball. But when a sinister street gang, Blood Street Nation, wants him and his team members to wear the Nation’s colors in the next big tournament, Elijah’s love of the game is soon thrown into jeopardy. This Way Home
is a story about reclamation. It’s about taking a stand for what matters most, and the discovery that, in the end, hope, love, and courage are our most powerful weapons.

All American Boys
, written by Jason Reynolds and Brendan Kiely, published by Atheneum/Caitlyn Dlouhy Books, HC, ages 12 and up
With Reynolds writing Rashad’s first-person narrative and Kiely Quinn’s, this hard-edged, ripped-from-the-headlines book is more than a problem novel; it’s a carefully plotted, psychologically acute, character-driven work of fiction that dramatizes an all-too-frequent occurrence. Police brutality and race relations in America are issues that demand debate and discussion, which his superb book powerfully enables.” - Booklist, starred review.

The Wicked Will Rise (Dorothy Must Die
) written by Danielle Paige, published by HarperCollins, HC, age 12 and up
In this New York Times bestselling sequel to Dorothy Must Die, who is good—and who is actually wicked? The Wicked Will Rise is perfect for fans of richly reimagined fairy tales and classic tales like Marissa Meyer’s Lunar Chronicles and Gregory Maguire’s Wicked.

Game On
, Book 3 in the Coleman High Series, written by Calvin Slater, published by Dafina, PB, ages 14-18
Xavier Hunter hoped his senior year would be bad news-free. His old enemy is finally in lockdown and Xavier is out from under one mad-crazy relationship disaster. And he's cool with his dream girl, Samantha Fox, dating other guys because fair is fair--he hasn't been a saint. But he's not hearing anything good about her new man, Sean. And showing Samantha the truth could be the one game Xavier can't win.

Under a Painted Sky
, written by Stacey Lee, published by G.P. Putnam's Sons Books for Young Readers, HC, age 12 and up
"This (Under a Painted Sky) offers a much needed multicultural look at the Oregon Trail, with resourceful, smart, and brave Chinese American and African American girls as main characters. High drama, tension, romantic longings, and touches of humor will entice historical fiction fans, and will be a perfect tie-in to social studies curriculum."—School Library Journal
P.S. I Still Love You, written by Jenny Han, published by Simon & Schuster, HC, ages 12 and up
Lara Jean didn’t expect to really fall for Peter. She and Peter were just pretending. Except suddenly they weren’t. Now Lara Jean is more confused than ever.  When another boy from her past returns to her life, Lara Jean’s feelings for him return too. Can a girl be in love with two boys at once? In this charming and heartfelt sequel to the New York Times bestseller To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before, we see first love through the eyes of the unforgettable Lara Jean. Love is never easy, but maybe that’s part of makes it so amazing.

Ink and Ashes, written by Valynne E. Maelani, published by Tu Books, HC, ages 12-18
Claire Takata has never known much about her father, who passed away ten years ago. But on the anniversary of his death, she finds a letter from her deceased father to her stepfather. Before now, Claire never had a reason to believe they even knew each other. Struggling to understand why her parents kept this surprising history hidden, Claire combs through anything that might give her information about her father . . . until she discovers that he was a member of the yakuza, a Japanese organized crime syndicate. The discovery opens a door that should have been left closed. The race to outrun her father's legacy reveals secrets of his past that cast ominous shadows, threatening Claire, her friends and family, her newfound love, and ultimately her life. Winner of Tu Books New Visions Award, Ink and Ashes is a fascinating debut novel packed with romance, intrigue, and heart-stopping action.

Tiny Pretty Things, written by Sona Charaipotra and Dhonielle Clayton, published by Harper Collins, HC, YA
Gigi, Bette, and June, three top students at an exclusive Manhattan ballet school, have seen their fair share of drama. Free-spirited new girl Gigi just wants to dance—but the very act might kill her. Privileged New Yorker Bette's desire to escape the shadow of her ballet-star sister brings out a dangerous edge in her. And perfectionist June needs to land a lead role this year or her controlling mother will put an end to her dancing dreams forever.

The descriptions of the titles on this list were mostly drawn from publishers’ promotional copy, and, in a few cases, excerpted from reviews.  Our goal was to ensure that this list is as inclusive as possible, showcasing the wide variety of diversity within children’s and young adult publishing during 2015. It is not intended to be an endorsement of all the titles included.   

The Multicultural Gems of 2015 was compiled and curated by:

Wade Hudson, Just Us Books, Inc.,

Dr. Debbie Reese, American Indians in Children's Literature,

Kelly Starling Lyons, The Brown Bookshelf,

Dr. Claudette McLinn, Center for the Study of Multicultural Children’s Literature,

Dr. Nancy Tolson, Assistant Director of African American Studies
University of South Carolina,

Dr. Sarah Park Dahlen, Assistant Professor, Library & Information Science, St. Catherine University,