As a Brown Bookshelf partner, The African American Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators society is dedicated to spreading the word about these and other books that are of special interest to multi-cultural audiences.
From Board Books to Young Adult fiction, Heads Up may serve as a guide of what to look for in stores or what to ask for at the library.
STACIE AND COLE by RM Johnson (Jump at the Sun) – Young Adult
“Stacie and Cole have been in love since the beginning of high school. Their heads should be all up in the clouds, but lately it’s been about sins and secrets that threaten to tear their love apart.
Stacie’s dad is acting more overprotective than usual. And what’s up with her best friend being so shady lately? Even Cole has been testing her. Stacie loves him more than anything, but she’s not sure she’s ready to take their relationship to that level just yet.
Cole is ready to take their relationship further. Feeling abandoned by his dad — and harassed for being a virgin by his trash-talking boys– he’s trying to learn intimacy any way he can.
Stacie and Cole have always been close — but with lust and lies at every turn, they’re about to discover if their love really has no limit.”
CHESS RUMBLE by G. Neri (Lee and Low) – Ages 8-12
“In Marcus’s world, battles are fought everyday—on the street, at home, and in school. Angered by his sister’s death and his father’s absence, and pushed to the brink by a bullying classmate, Marcus fights back with his fists.
One punch away from being kicked out of school and his home, Marcus encounters CM, an unlikely chess master who challenges him to fight his battles on the chess board. Guarded and distrusting, Marcus must endure more hard lessons before he can accept CM’s help to regain control of his life.
Inspired by inner-city school chess enrichment programs, Chess Rumble explores the ways this strategic game empowers young people with the skills they need to anticipate and calculate their moves through life.”
ISLAND COUNTING 123 by Frané Lessac (Candlewick Press) – Board Book
“One little island in the Caribbean Sea. Two parrots squawking in a coconut tree.”
Take a trip to the Caribbean, where one little island offers many exotic items to count! Here the three hilltop houses are painted in tropical hues, the five market ladies wear shady hats, the nine limbo dancers sway on a sunny beach, and the ten wildly dressed children celebrate carnival time.
Counting from one to ten is a lot more fun on a balmy beach in this lively read-aloud full of tropical flair.
Kayla Chronicles by Sherri Winston (Little, Brown) – Young Adult
Available January 1, 2008
Kayla Dean, junior feminist and future journalist, is about the break the story of a lifetime. She is auditioning for the Lady Lions dance team to prove they discriminate against the not-so-well endowed. But when she makes the team, her best friend and fellow feminist, Rosalie, is not happy.
Now a Lady Lion, Kayla is transformed from bushy-haired fashion victim to glammed-up dance diva. But does looking good and having fun mean turning her back on the cause?
Can you be a strong woman and still wear really cute shoes?
Soon Kayla is forced to challenge her views, coming to terms with who she is and what girl power really means.
Narrated with sharp language and just the right amount of attitude, The Kayla Chronicles is the story of a girl’s struggle for self-identity despite pressure from family, friends and her own conscience. Kayla’s story is snappy, fun and inspiring, sure to appeal to anyone who’s every questioned who they really are.
After Tupac and D Foster by Jacqueline Woodson (Putnam) – Young Adult
Available January 10, 2008
D Foster showed up a few months before Tupac got shot that first time and left us the summer before he died.
The day D Foster enters Neeka and her best friend’s lives, the world opens up for them.
D comes from a world vastly different from their safe Queens neighborhood, and through her, the girls see another side of life that includes loss, foster families and an amount of freedom that makes the girls envious.
Although all of them are crazy about Tupac Shakur’s rap music, D is the one who truly understands the place where he’s coming from, and through knowing D, Tupac’s lyrics become more personal for all of them.
The girls are thirteen when D’s mom swoops in to reclaim D—and as magically as she appeared, she now disappears from their lives. Tupac is gone, too, after another shooting; this time fatal.
As the narrator looks back, she sees lives suspended in time, and realizes that even all-too-brief connections can touch deeply.
Ain’t Nothing but a Man: A Historian’s Quest to Find the Real John
Henry by Scott Nelson (National Geographic Children’s Books) – 9-12
Who was the real John Henry? The story of this legendary
African-American figure has come down to us in so many songs, stories, and plays, that the facts are often lost. Historian Scott Nelson brings John Henry alive for young readers in his personal quest for the true story of the man behind the myth.
Nelson presents the famous folk song as a mystery to be unraveled, identifying the embedded clues within the lyrics, which he examines to uncover many surprising truths. He investigates the legend and reveals the real John Henry in this beautifully illustrated book.
Frenemies by L. Divine (Dafina) – Young Adult
South Bay High wouldn’t be such a bad place to go to school if it weren’t for all the drama. Not that Jayd Jackson’s helping matters. She’s right there in the center of it all—whether she wants to be or not. Maybe it just goes with the turf. After all, there’s a reason they call this place Drama High…
Jayd doesn’t know what’s going on with her girl, Nellie. Ever since she got named homecoming princess, she’s been acting like Mickey and Jayd aren’t her friends anymore, and she’s even falling in deeper with Tania and her crew. It’s amazing the girl can fit her new crown over that big head of hers.
And then there’s Jayd’s boyfriend Jeremy. His aloof attitude is really getting on her nerves. Jayd’s even starting to question his commitment, not to mention her own. Especially since lately, all she can think about is Rah—and that surprise kiss he planted on her the other day…
Trouble Follows by Monica McKayhan (Kimani TRU) – Young Adult
Life Is (Was…Will Be?) Good
Indigo Summer has everything she wants: a coveted spot on the high school dance squad, a hot boyfriend (the one and only Marcus Carter) and—her best friend, Jade, is moving back to Atlanta! But why does trouble always have to follow?
Jade is suddenly getting too cozy with their good-looking history teacher. And instead of shooting hoops, Marcus is sitting in a courthouse, forced to prove his innocence for something he didn’t do. Indigo is feeling the pressure—from the squad, from her friends, from her family. It’s time to show everyone—and herself—that she’s made of strong stuff.