Wintry Adventures

Hello, jFIC fans,

For the holiday season, here’s a diverse list of books with a wintry setting. Brrr!

The Wolves of Willoughby Chase by Joan Aiken

The Girl Who Speaks Bear by Sophie Anderson

The Forgotten Girl by India Hill Brown

The Family Under the Bridge by Natalie Savage Carlson

The Bears on Hemlock Mountain by Alice Dalgliesh

The Lotterys More or Less by Emma Donoghue

Ophelia and the Marvelous Boy by Karen Foxlee

Absolutely Truly by Heather Vogel Frederick

Odd and the Frost Giants by Neil Gaiman

The Doldrums and the Helmsley Curse by Nicholas Gannon

Stone Fox by John Reynolds Gardiner

Julie of the Wolves by Jean Craighead George

The Vanderbeekers of 141st Street by Karina Yan Glaser

Winterhouse by Ben Guterson

Very Rich by Polly Horvath

WinterFrost by Michelle Houts

Moominland Midwinter by Tove Jansson

Ice Dogs by Terry Lynn Johnson

Brother’s Keeper by Julie Lee

The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis

The Poet’s Dog by Patricia MacLachlan

Greenglass House by Kate Milford

Lara’s Gift by Annemarie O’Brien

Astrid the Unstoppable by Maria Parr

The Barren Grounds by David A. Robertson

May B. by Caroline Starr Rose

Jasper and the Riddle of Riley’s Mine by Caroline Starr Rose

The Evil Wizard Smallbone by Delia Sherman

Breadcrumbs by Anne Ursu

The Long Winter by Laura Ingalls Wilder

The Lost Frost Girl by Amy Wilson

Breaking Stalin’s Nose by Eugene Yelchin

“It snowed last year too: I made a snowman and my brother knocked it down and I knocked my brother down and then we had tea.”
~Dylan Thomas (from A Child’s Christmas in Wales)

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Spooky JFIC Revisited

Hello, jFIC fans,

Here’s a copy of my 2019 post on spooky reads:

October is my favorite month of the year, not just because it’s so cool and colorful, but because it has the funnest holiday: Halloween! To celebrate, here’s a list of creepy reads that’ll leave you feeling delightfully spooked. Read them at night with a steaming cup of your favorite autumn tea.

The House with Chicken Legs by Sophie Anderson

Small Spaces, Dead Voices, and Dark Waters by Katherine Arden

The Night Gardener by Jonathan Auxier

The House With a Clock in Its Walls and other books by John Bellairs

Doll Bones by Holly Black

The Halloween Tree by Ray Bradbury

The Ghost Road by Chris Cotter

The Witches by Roald Dahl

A Curious Tale of the In-Between by Lauren DeStefano

Watch Hollow by Gregory Funaro

The Graveyard Book and Coraline by Neil Gaiman

Wait Till Helen Comes and other books by Mary Downing Hahn

The Great Ghost Rescue and Dial-a-Ghost by Eva Ibbotson

The Legend of Sleepy Hollow by Washington Irving

How to Catch a Bogle Trilogy by Catherine Jinks

How to Catch a Bogle

The Dark Thirty by Patricia McKissack

The Book of Bad Things and other books by Dan Poblocki

Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark (three books) by Alvin Schwartz

City of Ghosts, Tunnel of Bones, and Bridge of Souls by Victoria Schwab

Beware! scary stories picked by by R.L. Stine

Goosebumps Series by R.L. Stine

Lockwood & Co Series by Jonathan Stroud  

The Accidental Afterlife of Thomas Marsden by Emma Trevayne

Nightbooks by J.A. White

Happy reading!

Double, double toil and trouble; Fire burn and teapot bubble. Give me autumn, give me tea; Give me spooky Halloweens!

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For Hispanic Heritage Month

Hello, jFIC fans, 

In honor of Hispanic Heritage Month (September 15 – October 15), here are several jFIC books that are available in both English and Spanish:

Island Treasures / Tesoros de mi isla by Alma Flor Ada

Island Treasures: Growing Up in Cuba by [Alma Flor Ada, Antonio Martorell, Edel Rodriguez]

Before We Were Free / Antes de ser libres by Julia Álvarez

Return to Sender / Devolver al remitente by Julia Álvarez

How Tía Lola Came to (Visit) Stay / De cómo tía Lola vino (de visita) a quedarse by Julia Álvarez

The Epic Fail of Arturo Zamora / El épico fracaso de Arturo Zamora by Pablo Cartaya 

Lety Out Loud / Lety alza su voz by Angela Cervantes

Merci Suárez Changes Gears / Merci Suárez se pone las pilas by Meg Medina

The First Rule of Punk / La primera regla del punk by Celia C. Pérez

Becoming Naomi León / Yo, Naomi León by Pam Muñoz Ryan

Echo / Eco by Pam Muñoz Ryan

Esperanza Rising / Esperanza Renace by Pam Muñoz Ryan

Mañanaland / Mañanaland by Pam Muñoz Ryan

The Wild Book / El libro salvaje by Juan Villoro

Happy reading!

“I do what I can to make the world a happier place. For example, I had my coffee today.” ~Sweatpants And Coffee, LLC

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JFIC Novels That Take Place in the Summer

Hello, jFIC fans,

My July 12, 2017 post was a list of “100 Juvenile Books That Take Place in the Summer.” Here are some more. These were published between 2017-2021. 

JFIC novels that take place in the summer and were published between 2017 and 2021:

All the Ways Home by Elsie Chapman

Any Day with You by Mae Respicio

August Isle by Ali Standish

Battle of Junk Mountain (The) by Lauren Abbey Greenberg

Be Prepared by Vera Brosgol (Graphic Novel)

Brother Wars: Cabin Eleven by Steven K Smith

Camp Average by Craig Battle

Camp by Kayla Miller (Graphic Novel) 

Camp Clique by Eileen Moskowitz-Palma

Caterpillar Summer by Gillian McDunn

Chirp by Kate Messner

Effie Starr Zook Has One More Question by Martha Freeman

Emperor’s Riddle (The) by Kat Zhang

Epic Fail of Arturo Zamora (The) by Pablo Cartaya

Finally, Something Mysterious by Doug Cornett

Forever This Summer by Leslie C Youngblood

From the Desk of Zoe Washington by Janae Marks

Girls of Firefly Cabin (The) by Cynthia Ellingsen

Guggenheim Mystery (The) by Robin stevens

High Rise Mystery by Sharna Jackson

Hope in the Holler by Lisa Lewis Tyre

House that Lou Built (The) by Mae Respicio

Jelly Bean Summer by Joyce Magnin

Junior Lifeguards Series by Elizabeth Doyle Carey

Key to Everything (The) by Pat Schmatz

Kind of Paradise (A) by Amy Rebecca Tan

Lemons by Melissa Savage

Line Tender (The) by Kate Allen

Matchstick Castle (The) by Keir Graff

Mystery of the Moon Tower (The) by Francesco Sedita

Parker Inheritance (The) by Varian Johnson

Quicksand Pond by Janet Taylor Lisle

Rambler Steals Home (A) by Carter Higgins

Rating Your Bunkmates and Other Camp Crimes by Jennifer Orr

Rules of the Ruff by Heidi Lang

Season of Styx Malone (The) by Kekla Magoon

Short by Holly Goldberg Sloan

Shouting at the Rain by Lynda Mullaly Hunt

Silver Meadows Summer by Emma Otheguy

Stand Up, Yumi Chung! by Jessica Kim

Summer and July by Paul Mosier

Summer at Meadow Wood by Amy Rebecca Tan

This Would Make a Good Story Someday by Dana Alison Levy

Thousand Questions (A) by Saadia Faruqi

To Night Owl from Dogfish by Holly Goldberg Sloan

What Happens Next by Claire Swinarski

When I Hit the Road by Nancy J Cavanaugh

When Life Gives You Mangos by Kareen Getten

Where the Watermelons Grow by Cindy Baldwin

Wild Blues by Beth Kephart

Wrong Way Summer by Heidi Lang

Of the ones I’ve read, I particularly enjoyed Lemons by Melissa Savage, a funny and touching story of two friends searching for BigFoot while coping with family loss.   

Happy reading!

American-style iced tea is the perfect drink for a hot, sunny day. It’s never really caught on in the UK, probably because the last time we had a hot, sunny day was back in 1957.” ~Tom Holt

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JFIC with Grandparents

Hello, jFIC fans,

May is both Older Americans Month and Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month. Here’s a list of 25 middle grade books that include grandparents. Several are by Asian American authors.

The Blackbird Girls / Anne Blankman

The Witches / Roald Dahl

Louisiana’s Way Home / Kate DiCamillo

Brendan Buckley’s Universe and Everything in It / Sundee Tucker Frazier

The Fourteenth Goldfish / Jennifer L. Holm

Sunny Side Up / Jennifer L. Holm

The Thing About Luck / Cynthia Kadohata

When You Trap a Tiger / Tae Keller

Listen, Slowly / Thanhha Lai

Dream Within a Dream / Patricia MacLachlan

In the Footsteps of Crazy Horse / Joseph Marshall III

Merci Suárez Changes Gears / Meg Medina

Chirp / Kate Messner

The Turtle of Oman / Naomi Shihab Nye

Astrid the Unstoppable / Maria Parr

A Long Way from Chicago / Richard Peck

A Year Down Yonder / Richard Peck

As Brave as You / Jason Reynolds

The Good Thieves / Katherine Rundell

The Great Wall of Lucy Wu / Wendy Wan-Long Shang

Heidi / Johanna Spyri

The Runaways / Ulf Stark

Clean Getaway / Nic Stone

Gone Crazy in Alabama / Rita Williams-Garcia

Echo Mountain / Lauren Wolk

Happy reading!

“Drink your tea slowly and reverently, as if it is the axis on which the world earth revolves — slowly, evenly, without rushing toward the future.” ~Thich Nhat Hanh

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JFIC Novels in Verse

Hello, jFIC fans,

April is National Poetry Month, so here’s a list of outstanding novels written in verse. All have received starred reviews, and several have also won awards.

The Crossover by Kwame Alexander (award winner)

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The Canyon’s Edge by Dusti Bowling (starred reviews)

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Serafina’s Promise by Ann E. Burg (award winner)

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Love That Dog (award winner), Moo, and Saving Winslow (starred reviews) by Sharon Creech

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The Wild Book by Margarita Engle (starred reviews)

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Starfish by Lisa Fipps 2021 (starred reviews)

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Garvey’s Choice (starred reviews) and Words with Wings (award winner) by Nikki Grimes

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Catching a Storyfish by Janice N. Harrington (starred reviews)

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Out of the Dust (award winner) and Witness (starred reviews) by Karen Hesse

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Full Cicada Moon by Marilyn Hilton (starred reviews)

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Inside Out and Back Again by Thanhha Lai (award winner)

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The One Thing You’d Save by Linda Sue Park 2021 (starred reviews)

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The Red Pencil by Andrea Davis Pinkey (starred reviews)

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May B. by Caroline Starr Rose (award winner)

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Land of the Cranes and The Moon Within by Aida Salazar (starred reviews)

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Red Butterfly by A.L. Sonnichsen (starred reviews)

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The Last Fifth Grade of Emerson Elementary by Laura Shovan (award winner)

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Other Words for Home by Jasmine Warga (award winner)

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Brown Girl Dreaming (award winner memoir) and Before the Ever After (award winner) by Jacqueline Woodson

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For a more extensive list of middle grade novels in verse, visit this excellent website:

Happy reading!

Time for you and time for me,
And time yet for a hundred indecisions,
And for a hundred visions and revisions,
Before the taking of toast and tea
~T.S. Eliot

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For Women’s History Month

Hello, jFIC fans,

I’m adding six fairly recent novels to the list I posted on March 13, 2019 titled “Herstorical JFIC”:

The Blackbird Girls by Anne Blankman (2020)*****

Echo Mountain by Lauren Wolk (2020)*****

How High the Moon by Karyn Parsons (2020)****

Prairie Lotus by Linda Sue Park (2020)****

A Slip of a Girl by Patricia Reilly Giff (2019)*****

Some Places More Than Others by Renée Watson (2020) *****

Happy reading!

“I don’t drink coffee to wake up; I wake up to drink coffee.” ~ mug sentiment

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Celebrating Valentine’s Day and Black History Month

Hello, jFIC fans,

Let’s celebrate Valentine’s Day with a sweet jFIC love story:

Dream Within a Dream by Patricia MacLachlan

Louisa is not looking forward to spending another summer with her grandparents on the tiny island where they live. Her brother doesn’t mind, but she’s a writer, so even though she enjoys her grandparents’ company, she would rather be off having adventures with her ornithologist parents. This year, however, she discovers that the island has a lot to offer, and she meets George, a very special boy with whom she forms a very special friendship.

And for Black History Month, here are a few of my favorite historical novels by African American authors:

Finding Langston Trilogy (Finding Langston, Leaving Lymon, and Being Clem (coming in August, 2021) by Lesa Cline-Ransome

Elijah of Buxton and other awesome novels by Christopher Paul Curtis

Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry and other installments of The Logan Family Series by Mildred Taylor

Some Places More than Others by Renée Watson

One Crazy Summer Trilogy by Rita Williams-Garcia

P.S. Be Eleven

Brown Girl Dreaming by Jaqueline Woodson

Happy reading!

“Words cannot espresso how much you bean to me!” –unknown

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2020 Favorites

Hello, jFIC fans,

Happy New Year! Looking forward to a year full of awesome reads!

My favorite dozen from 2020:

Eva Evergreen (Semi Magical Witch Book 1) by Julie Abe (Ages 8-12; Grades 3-7)

Eva Evergreen’s quest is to earn the rank of Novice Witch before her thirteenth birthday, for if she doesn’t, she’ll lose her magic powers forever. The problem is that Eva only has “a pinch of magic” – or so she believes. This delightful fantasy novel reads like an anime movie. I look forward to the sequels!

The Blackbird Girls by Anne Blankman (Ages 9-12; Grades 4-7)

After a reactor at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant explodes, two rival fifth-grade girls from completely different backgrounds end up on a train on their way to stay with one of the girls’ estranged grandmother. A poignant multigenerational historical novel about the power of friendship.

Premeditated Myrtle (Myrtle Hardcastle Mystery 1) by Elizabeth C Bunce  (Ages 10-18; Grades 5-12) (some diversity)

Myrtle Hardcastle is a brilliant twelve-year-old girl obsessed with forensic science and detective work who persists in her investigations in spite of the social expectations of her time. The series has similarities to the award-winning Flavia de Luce Mystery Series by Alan Bradley, but it’s written for kids! Engaging and delightful!

The Sisters of Straygarden Place by Hayley Chewins (Ages 10-14; Grades 5-9)

A beautifully-written surreal fantasy about an enchanted house, menacing plants, bonds between sisters, and reality-bending revelations. I loved the little black dogs that squeeze inside their owners’ brains to help them sleep. Spooky and original!

Leaving Lymon (Finding Langston Trilogy Book 2) by Lesa Cline-Ransome (Ages 8-12; Grades 3-7) (BIPOC author)

The second installment of the Finding Langston Trilogy follows the story of the bully Lymon, and includes the reasons for his anger, his love of music, and his finding hope for a better future. A moving and inspiring historical fiction story told by an outstanding writer.

One Time by Sharon Creech (Ages 8-12; Grades 3-7) (some diversity)

With the help of a brilliant teacher and a boy with a generous smile, 11-year-old Gina Filomena and her classmates discover that their future is full of wonderful possibilities. An uplifting coming-of-age story that’s perfect for classroom reading groups.

The Clockwork Crow by Catherine Fisher (Ages 9-12; Grades 4-7)

Thirteen-year-old Seren Rhys is an orphan hoping for a better life in her Godfather’s country mansion. But nothing turns out as she expects, and she ends up going on a fantastic journey to rescue the family’s young son who has been stolen by fairies. A mysterious and fast-paced fantasy with themes of resilience, courage, and belonging.

A Pinch of Magic by Michelle Harrison (Ages 8-12; Grades 3-7)

The Widdershins sisters discover that they’re under a generations-long curse that keeps them from leaving their island, so they set out to break the curse and save their lives with the help of three magical objects and a mysterious prisoner. An exciting fantasy adventure with excellent world-building and characterization.

The Time of Green Magic by Hilary McKay (Ages 8-12; Grades 3-7) (bi-racial blended family)

A gorgeously-written, enchanting family story that follows the daily lives of 11-year-old Abi, her two stepbrothers, and her father and stepmother, as they adjust to a new family and a new home: a mysterious and possibly magical ivy-covered house. A suspenseful and heartwarming novel from a brilliant author. My favorite juvenile novel of the year!

Of Salt and Shore by Annet Schaap (Ages 10-12; Grades 5+)

Lampie, the lighthouse keeper’s 11-year-old daughter, makes a terrible mistake that results in punishments both for her and her alcoholic father. Hers is to be sent to live and work at the Admiral’s house, where a monster is said to live. A fantasy adventure with extraordinary characters and themes of courage, friendship, belonging, and self-worth.

The Monster Who Wasn’t (Monster Who Wasn’t Trilogy Book 1) by T. C. Shelley (Ages 8-12; Grades 3-6)

Imp hatched in a monsters’ lair, but looks just like a human boy and is possibly something between fairy and monster. The gargoyles and their angel take him under their wings, but the king of ogres has sinister plans for him. A fantasy story of family, good vs evil, and seeking one’s place in the world. Exciting and heart-warming!

Echo Mountain by Lauren Wolk (Ages 8-12; Grades 5+)

The Great Depression forces 12-year-old Ellie’s family to leave their home in town and move to the untamed forests of Echo Mountain. There Ellie discovers a love of nature and is enjoying her new life until her father has an accident that leaves him in a coma. Ellie then decides to go to the reclusive “hag” of the mountain for help. A story about having the courage and persistence to become your own true self.

Happy reading!

“Take some more tea,” the March Hare said to Alice, very earnestly.

“I’ve had nothing yet,” Alice replied in an offended tone, “so I can’t take more.”

“You mean you can’t take less,” said the Hatter: “it’s very easy to take more than nothing.”

“Nobody asked your opinion,” said Alice.

~ from Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll

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Recent Reads

Hello, jFIC fans,

Whatever happened to April and May? Proof we’re living in sad and stressful times. Let me catch June before it whizzes by too!

Here are a few titles I’ve read recently along with my ratings. Most should be available as ebooks and/or audio ebooks.

The World’s Greatest Detective, Caroline Carlson 2017 ****

Mystery, 4th-6th grades

A whodunit story with an endearing main character, quirky secondary characters, and high stakes. The mystery itself is a bit simplistic (from an adult perspective), but interesting and entertaining, and will appeal to kids starting to become familiarized with the genre. (Early 20th century white community.)

We’re Not from Here, Geoff Rodkey 2019 *****

Science Fiction, 5th-7th grades

“A quirky sci-fi adventure with a surprising layer of political irony.” (Kirkus) A group of humans are granted refuge on another planet, but while making the trip there, the planet’s government changes, and their request is denied. Highly entertaining and thought-provoking. Loved the aliens, especially the highly intelligent, marshmallow-like Ororos. (Diversity is implied.)

The Heart and Mind of Frances Pauley, April Stevens 2018 ****

Fiction, 4th-6th grades

A moving, coming-of-age story about acceptance (of oneself and others), empathy, kindness, forgiveness, friendship, grieving, and growth. Loved the main character’s interest in nature and the impact that the wise and kind aging bus driver has on all the children. Great for gifted kids who feel misunderstood and isolated. (Universal messages, but minimal diversity.)

Mañanaland by Pam Muñoz Ryan 2020

Fantasy (I question this classification),  4-6th grades *****

From the book’s blurb: “When eleven-year-old Max uncovers a buried family secret–involving an underground network of guardians who lead people fleeing a neighboring country to safety–he decides it’s time to find out more about his mother, who disappeared when he was a baby.” A poignant commentary on the struggles of refugee immigrants and those who bravely choose to protect them. (Hispanic characters and Own Voices author.)

Aggie Morton Mystery Queen: The Body Under the Piano by Marthe Jocelyn 2020 ****

Mystery/Historical Fiction, 5th-7th grades

Twelve-year-old amateur detective and aspiring writer Aggie Morton investigates a murder by poison with the help of her Belgian friend Hector Perot. A well-crafted mystery inspired by the imagined life of Agatha Christie as a child. The book’s one disappointment is Perot’s poorly-developed character and insubstantial role. (Also, no diversity.) Hopefully Perot’s characterization will improve as the series progresses. For fans of The Wollstonecraft Detective Agency.

August Isle by Ali Standish 2019 ****

Realistic Fiction, 5-8th grades

A story about a 14-year-old girl uncovering a painful family secret. The pacing is a bit slow, but the lovely seaside setting, the endearing secondary characters, and the main character’s emotional journey hold your interest, plus the climax and resolution make the wait worthwhile. (White main character/family. Indian and biracial secondary characters.)

Some Places More than Others by Renee Watson 2019 *****

Realistic Fiction, 4-6th grades

A lovely story about an 11-year-old girl’s longing to connect with her father’s side of the family and their history. It reads like a travel journal, but that’s the beauty of it: it takes the reader on a fascinating historical tour of New York. (Own Voices: African American main characters/family.)

The Guggenheim Mystery: Sequel to The London Eye Mystery by Robin Stevens 2018 *****

Mystery, 4-7th grades

“Twelve-year-old Ted Stark, his sister, and cousin investigate the theft of a priceless work of art.” Robin Stevens captures the voices of the characters from the first installment of the series (The London Eye Mystery by the late Siobhan Dowd). The stakes are not as high as in the first book, but the plot and the setting hold your interest, and the writing—especially the characterization— is very good. (Diverse main and secondary characters. Main character/narrator has ASD.)

And last but not least, an important book for the times we’re living in:

Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You by Jason Reynolds and Ibram X. Kendi *****

Nonfiction, YA (Grade 7+)

“The construct of race has always been used to gain and keep power, to create dynamics that separate and silence. This remarkable reimagining of Dr. Ibram X. Kendi’s National Book Award-winning Stamped from the Beginning reveals the history of racist ideas in America, and inspires hope for an antiracist future. It takes you on a race journey from then to now, shows you why we feel how we feel, and why the poison of racism lingers. It also proves that while racist ideas have always been easy to fabricate and distribute, they can also be discredited. 

“Through a gripping, fast-paced, and energizing narrative written by beloved award-winner Jason Reynolds, this book shines a light on the many insidious forms of racist ideas–and on ways readers can identify and stamp out racist thoughts in their daily lives.”

Stay safe and happy reading!

“Tea should be taken in solitude.” –C. S. Lewis

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