Book Selections for 2023

Adult/High School

Don’t Ask Me Where I’m From

Jennifer de Leon

Middle School

Stunt Boy in the Meantime

Jason Reynolds

Elementary

Jellybeans

Kiersten Hall

Don’t Ask Me Where I’m From

An inner-city Boston student is accepted into a high school desegregation program.


Liliana’s dad’s absence has been occupying her mind ever since he disappeared at the end of summer. This isn’t the first time he has gone away, but this time feels different: Her mom keeps having hushed, frantic phone conversations and won’t tell her where he is. Even more stress is added to Liliana’s life when she is pulled out of class by the vice principal and told that her acceptance into the Metropolitan Council for Education Opportunity (METCO) program means she’ll be commuting 20 miles to a predominantly white school in the suburbs. When she arrives at Westburg High, Liliana is surprised to see some other METCO students, like her peer mentor, Genesis, or the basketball team’s star, Rayshawn, completely immersed in the school’s academic and cultural activities. After finding out the truth about her dad’s absence, Liliana begins to analyze her own identity and biases in order to survive and excel at Westburg. While the aspiring young writer theme feels tired at times, De Leon’s debut deals tactfully with the tensions that race relations and the stress of keeping family secrets can bring on teenagers, producing an honest and empathetic portrayal. Liliana’s mother is from El Salvador and her father's from Guatemala. (Kirkus Review)

Stunt Boy in the Meantime

Not-so-secret superhero by day and kid from apartment 4D by day as well, Portico “Stuntboy” Reeves will need all his tricks to withstand the great threat facing his family and the anxiety that comes with it.

Portico loves living in Skylight Gardens, an apartment complex as large as a castle, but he cherishes the people and community the most—with the exception of Herbert Singletary the Worst. Herbert is a bully and often a source of Portico’s “frets,” or debilitating anxiety, but neighbor and bestie Zola provides great support to both Portico and his super alter ego. The latter’s purpose is to keep all the other uniquely heroic folk in Skylight Gardens safe through an arsenal of self-sacrificing distractions and awkward hijinks. Raul the Third’s illustrations are both dynamic and cleverly slapstick as Portico skillfully tumbles down stairs to prevent an older resident from falling or flops in front of his parents to momentarily stop them from fighting. Reynolds’ narrative gradually reveals the impact Portico’s parents’ impending separation is having on their deeply sensitive son even as he can’t fully grasp what’s going on around him. Superlative, action-packed art and cheeky narration combine to tell a story of emotional intelligence on a superheroic scale while remaining consistently funny and undeniably thoughtful. Most characters read as Black. (Kirkus Review)

Jellybeans

Thirty-five JELLYBEANS have come together to share a sweet and thoughtful poem promoting kindness and inclusion with children, 0 to 6 years. Join in their adventure as they discover their unique qualities while realizing they are all, ultimately, the same. The JELLYBEANS book is sure to be a favorite among children and their family members. (Fox Pointe Publishing)