Top Five Wednesday, which right now is taken over by the author Laura A Grace. Top Five Wednesday is a weekly book prompt that might help you pick your next read.
June 22nd: Worth the Hype
There is always a new popular book that it seems everyone is raving about and saying how great it. Sometimes that hype can push us to try it, and other times, not try it at all. For this prompt, let’s talk about those “hyped” reads we did try and indeed felt they were worth the hype!
It is just me, or this is a thing that happens? I’m talking about novels in verse and the thought that they don’t get the hype they deserve unless the author is well-known. So, I’m here to share five that are really worth a read.
stirring, hopeful immigration story of Nurah and her family, who move from Karachi, Pakistan, to Peachtree City, Georgia, from Reem Faruqi, ALA Notable author of the award-winning picture book Lailah’s Lunchbox. Powerful and charming, Other Words for Home meets Front Desk in this debut middle grade novel in verse about finding your footing in a new world.
From Pakistan to Peachtree City—Nurah’s stirring story of finding your place.
When Nurah’s family moves from Karachi, Pakistan, to Peachtree City, Georgia, all she really wants is to blend in, but she stands out for all the wrong reasons. Nurah’s accent, floral-print kurtas, and tea-colored skin make her feel excluded, and she’s left to eat lunch alone under the stairwell, until she meets Stahr at swimming tryouts. Stahr covers her body when in the water, just like Nurah, but for very different reasons.
But in the water Nurah doesn’t want to blend in: She wants to stand out. She wants to win medals like her star athlete brother, Owais—who is going through struggles of his own in America—yet when sibling rivalry gets in the way, she makes a split-second decision of betrayal that changes their fates.
As Nurah slowly begins to sprout wings in the form of strong swimming arms, she gradually gains the courage to stand up to bullies, fight for what she believes in, and find her place.
Ellie is tired of being fat-shamed and does something about it in this debut novel-in-verse.
Ever since Ellie wore a whale swimsuit and made a big splash at her fifth birthday party, she’s been bullied about her weight. To cope, she tries to live by the Fat Girl Rules–like “no making waves,” “avoid eating in public,” and “don’t move so fast that your body jiggles.” And she’s found her safe space–her swimming pool–where she feels weightless in a fat-obsessed world. In the water, she can stretch herself out like a starfish and take up all the room she wants. It’s also where she can get away from her pushy mom, who thinks criticizing Ellie’s weight will motivate her to diet. Fortunately, Ellie has allies in her dad, her therapist, and her new neighbor, Catalina, who loves Ellie for who she is. With this support buoying her, Ellie might finally be able to cast aside the Fat Girl Rules and starfish in real life–by unapologetically being her own fabulous self.
From spoken word poet Jasmine Mans comes an unforgettable poetry collection about race, feminism, and queer identity.
With echoes of Gwendolyn Brooks and Sonia Sanchez, Mans writes to call herself—and us—home. Each poem explores what it means to be a daughter of Newark, and America–and the painful, joyous path to adulthood as a young, queer Black woman.
Black Girl, Call Home is a love letter to the wandering Black girl and a vital companion to any woman on a journey to find truth, belonging, and healing.
A novel-in-verse about how one teen boy survives the March 2011 tsunami that devastates his coastal Japanese village.
On that fateful day, Kai loses nearly everyone and everything he cares about in the storm. When he’s offered a trip to New York to meet kids whose lives were changed by 9/11, Kai realizes he also has a chance to look for his estranged American father. Visiting Ground Zero on its tenth anniversary, Kai learns that the only way to make something good come out of the disaster back home is to return there and help rebuild his town.
Running through my ruined town,
pack flapping like wings
against my back.
Plowing through blocks
strewn with heaps of
in a marshland
This historical middle grade novel written in free verse, set against the backdrop of the desegregation battles that took place in Houston, Texas, in 1972, is about a young boy and his family dealing with loss and the revelation of dark family secrets.
Ten-year-old Paulie Sanders hates his name because it also belonged to his daddy—his daddy who killed a fellow white man and then crashed his car. With his mama unable to cope, Paulie and his sister, Charlie, move in with their Aunt Bee and attend a new elementary school. But it’s 1972, and this new school puts them right in the middle of the Houston School District’s war on desegregation.
Paulie soon begins to question everything. He hears his daddy’s crime was a race-related one; he killed a white man defending a black man, and when Paulie starts picking fights with a black boy at school, he must face his reasons for doing so. When dark family secrets are revealed, the way forward for everyone will change the way Paulie thinks about family forever.
Have you ever read a novel in verse? If you did, can you leave the title in the comments? I’m always looking for recommendations.