1 Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli
2 Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo
3 Stick by Michael Harmon
Illuminae by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff
Dumplin’ by Julie Murphy
All American Boys by Jason Reynolds and Brendan Kiely
Nimona by Noelle Stevenson
An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir
The Making of a Navy SEAL: My Story of Surviving the Toughest Challenge and Training the Best by Brandon Webb
10 Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon

Booktalks (pdf)

Poster (pdf)

Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli
Simon vs the Homo Sapiens

“Don’t you think everyone should have to come out? Why is straight the default?” questions Simon Spier of his anonymous crush “Blue” in one of their secret emails. Simon and Blue begin their anonymous correspondence after Blue’s intriguing post on the school’s unofficial Tumblr and, as their flirtation heats up and Simon tries to figure out who his mysterious romantic classmate is, Blue continues to be hesitant to reveal himself. Simon isn’t exactly nervous about coming out to his family and friends, but he’s not ready for the possible changes in the relationships he has. However, when Simon forgets to logout of his account on a school computer, and a problematic classmate, Martin, takes a screenshot of Simon’s correspondence, Simon must decide what is truly important to him. Martin threatens to expose Simon if he doesn’t get him into the good graces of the new girl, Abby, but (of course) Abby isn’t into Martin at all. What should Simon do? Will Martin follow through on his threat? Will Blue turn out to be as wonderful as he sounds in his emails?

-Elizabeth Metcalf, NBCT, Teacher-Librarian, Redmond Middle School

Six of Crows by Leigh BardugoSix of Crpws.jpg

Kaz Brekker is a criminal who runs part of the seedy underworld of the Barrel, an area no good citizen walks in after dark.  He always has his ear to the ground and his spies ferreting out useful information.  When Kaz hears that the creator of a drug that augments the magical powers of users called Grisha is locked in an impenetrable prison where he will be used to alter the balance of power in Kaz’s whole world, he is interested.  Interested enough to put a team of malcontents together to do the unthinkable – storm the prison, abduct the prisoner and sell him to the highest bidder.  Join a Heartrender, a weapons expert, the Wraith – a spy that can get anywhere unseen, a demolitions man, and a traitorous soldier as you return to the world of the Grisha in this fast-paced, magical heist caper.

-Mike Fleming, Teacher-Librarian, Pacific Cascade Middle School Library

Stick by Michael Harmon

Brett “Stick” Patterson is one of the best wide receivers in Washington State and his father is one of THOSE dads—the ones who videotape their sons playing and then dissect the game for hours after. The problem is, Stick is getting tired. He’s tired of his coach who is only interested in trophies. He’s tired of his team members who find nothing wrong with humiliating people. He’s tired of his dad. He’s tired of football. Preston is a nerdy, skinny freshman with a love for comic books. The two meet when members of the football team decide to drop eggs on Preston for no reason other than he exists.  Stick can’t help but admire the freshman who just doesn’t seem to care what anyone else thinks.  Little does he know, but Preston dresses up like a superhero and goes out into the streets of Spokane to fight crime by night. When Stick decides to quit the football team his former teammates turn their violent attention to him. His decision to transfer to the rival high school—and worse—play for the rival team is enough to make him a wanted man, but maybe—just maybe—some of Preston’s bravery will rub off.  Whether you’re a sports enthusiast or not, you’re sure to love this book by Michael Harmon that features unexpected heroes and unlikely friends.

-Jodi Kruse, Teacher-Librarian, R. A. Long High School

Illuminae by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff Illuminae.jpg

Teen Kady thought the toughest part of her day was breaking up with her boyfriend, Ezra. Then missiles start raining down on her planet Kerenza and she’s thrust into an all-out fight for survival as it becomes clear that the rival BeiTech Corporation has launched the deadly attack.

All Kerenza colonists are evacuated onto three space ships, with Kady and Ezra ending up on different ones as they try to figure out what’s happening. Daring adventures and fight scenes keep the action moving and time appears to be running out when one of the escaping space ships is blown up. Is this a BeiTech ship catching up to them or a different sinister plot? As if that’s not enough chaos and tension, there’s a virus loose on one of the ships that turns people into zombies.

The story is told through unique narration devices: instant messages, transcripts of video clips, graphics, military reports, emails, and the ship’s AI computer. If you’re looking for an adventure tale told in a fun way that’s full of action and a little romance, then this is the book for you–even if you’re not usually a science fiction fan.

-Sherri Ashlock, Teacher-Librarian, Nelsen Middle School

Dumplin’ by Julie Murphy

Dumplin’, Go Big or Go Home, by Julie Murphy is a contemporary realistic fiction novel about Willowdean Dickson. Willow lives in a small Texas town and works a fast food restaurant with a hot guy from the expensive private school across town. Bo is everything Willow is not. He’s wealthy, handsome and popular. But Willow is so focused on all the things she isn’t, she keeps sabotaging her relationship with Bo.

It’s understandable that she only sees herself as a “Big” girl when her mother is constantly on her back to lose weight. Calling her Dumplin’ because of her size.  As an act of defiance Willow signs up for the Miss Teen Blue Bonnet beauty pageant. What started as an act to get back at her mother turns into a life changing event for Willow and other non-traditionally beautiful girls at her school.

But the beauty pageant teaches Willow something really important. She is good enough to be with Bo. All she has to do is convince him that she believes it. (Read page 75 to page break on 77.)

-Nickie Travis, Teacher-Librarian, Lindbergh High School

All American Boys by Jason Reynolds and Brendan KielyAll American Boys.jpg

Black. Lives. Matter. Those three words can cause mixed reactions when people hear them. In this story two families with former and current police officers collide over a convenience store incident that takes them all by surprise. Quinn is the witness and the person caught in the middle. Quinn sees everything unfold. He has no idea what to do about it. Quinn, and an unnamed lady in the store, know what happened. But will they be able to come forward with the truth? Rashad is the victim. He was beaten senseless by a beloved police officer. Rashad’s Dad as a former police officer knows that there can be breaking points, regrets, and misunderstandings. And now Rashad’s Dad is on the other side only wanting his son to recover. Every living being has a fight or flight instinct which doesn’t allow time for analysis and reflection. This book, however, allows the reader to carefully consider all points of view with the issue of excessive force from police. I think the amazing co-authors of this powerful story are offering society a possible solution; take a step back and look at all sides of the story. And talk about it.

-Kathleen Dunbar, Teacher-Librarian, Eastlake High School Library

Nimona by Noelle Stevenson

An award-winning webcomic that migrated to the page, Nimona is the story of a supervillain named Lord Ballister Blackheart who is locked in half-hearted battle with superhero and all-around good guy, Sir Ambrosius Goldenloin.  Neither seems to get far, Goldenloin is able to stop Blackheart, but never wipe him out, and Blackheart has schemes that never seem to succeed.  That is, until Nimona arrives, begging Blackheart to take her on as a sidekick.  She has some good ideas, and a nifty shape-shifting ability, but Blackheart is a bit pained to see how zealous she is to do evil, because Blackheart has a reason for why he never lets his own evil schemes succeed.  Meanwhile, Nimona is acting a little unstable and concerning details about her past are leaking out.  A subversive gem that should be the first graphic novel you grab this year! A New York Times bestseller!  Winner of dozens of awards!

-Mike Fleming, Teacher-Librarian, Pacific Cascade Middle School Library

An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa TahirAn Ember in the Ashes.jpg

Embers come from fire and danger, and there are plenty of all three in Ember in the Ashes.   This fantasy recalls the violence of Ancient Rome.   Laia is an ember, running from the fire that destroys her family’s home in chapter one.  She begins scared, watching her family attacked in front of her on suspicion of treason.  Motivated by a desire to save her brother, her only remaining family member, she herself becomes a spy, working for the most cruel woman in the kingdom.  Elias is the other ember, a Martial, the ruling class in this future dystopia.  His desire to rebel and avoid the requirement to kill keeps him burning with anger and indecision.  It is impossible for the two to trust each other.  Or is it?  They have a common enemy, tyranny.

These two characters narrate the book, often as enemies.  Fights, disguises, escapes and deceit keep the tension continually high, and is hard to put down.

-Jodie Purcell, Teacher-Librarian, Bishop Blanchet High School

The Making of a Navy Seal.jpg

The Making of a Navy SEAL: My Story of Surviving the Toughest Challenge and Training the Best by Brandon Webb

US Navy SEALS are the best of the best, the highest-trained soldiers America has to offer.  It didn’t look like Brandon Webb was on his way to qualify for the SEAL’s until he was working on a diving boat that some SEAL’s showed up to dive on.  Up until that point, he had an abusive father and physical maladies that had him wearing leg braces.  However, speaking to the SEAL’s showed him there was a goal worth fighting for.  Years later, Webb was a SEAL, and even more, he was good enough to be asked to create the curriculum and train soldiers at Sniper School.  If you want to know what it takes to be the best, Webb is in a great place to tell you about it.  He’s been there and done that, and probably shot some people there too!

-Mike Fleming, Teacher-Librarian, Pacific Cascade Middle School Library

Everything, Everything by Nicola YoonEverything, Everything.jpg

17-year-old Maddie is allergic to the world, and so is trapped in her house. She knows she’ll never be able to leave, but is content enough seeing only her mom and nurse, Carla, and attending virtual school. But when a super cute, moody boy wearing all black moves in next door, her whole life changes. Ollie is intrigued by the girl he only sees through the window and finds a way to communicate with her. Soon, Maddie and Ollie are talking through IM, emails, and messages written on their windows with markers. Now Maddie’s whole world begins to open up. But can you really have a relationship just through email and IM? Is Maddie willing to risk everything, even her life, for a chance to love?

-Jocelyn Redel, Teen Librarian, Lynnwood Library, Sno-Isle Library System