This list of Caribbean authors (some of which are Latinx) was compiled by Summer Edward over at the amazing site Anansesem in January. Please show them love here and please share if you have read any of these great books.
Happy new year! We hope you enjoyed time with loved ones and got some books ticked off your reading list over the holidays. We’re excited to share our list of *English-language* Caribbean children’s and young adult (YA) books expected to be published in the coming year. We curate and publish this list every January (see previous lists here) and we only list #ownvoices books by Caribbean-based and Caribbean self-identified authors. This year will bring books by some of the veterans in the field, like Margarita Engle and Lulu Delacre (both Anansesem alums) plus some highly-anticipated debut titles by authors like Maika Moulite and Maritza Moulite, Claribel Ortega and Zalika Reid-Benta. Keep checking this post throughout the year since we will continue to discover and gradually add more 2019 titles. And leave a comment if you know of a book that needs to be added to the list!
*All book synopses from the publisher’s website. Inclusion in the list below does not constitute an endorsement by Anansesem or its editors.
Across the Bay
by Carlos Aponte (Author and Illustrator)
Picturebook. Penguin Workshop. Pub date: September 17, 2019
Author-illustrator Carlos Aponte takes readers on a journey to the heart of Puerto Rico in this enchanting picture book set in Old San Juan.
Carlitos lives in a happy home with his mother, his abuela, and Coco the cat. Life in his hometown is cozy as can be, but the call of the capital city pulls Carlitos across the bay in search of his father. Jolly piragüeros, mischievous cats, and costumed musicians color this tale of love, family, and the true meaning of home.
A Story About Afiya
by James Berry (Author) and Anna Cunha (Illustrator)
Picturebook. Lantana Publishing. Pub date: May 5, 2020
Afiya has fine black skin that shows off her white clothes, big brown eyes that laugh, and long limbs that play. This joyful book provides a celebration of Caribbean identity and a whimsical meditation on the impressionable and irrepressible nature of children, written by Coretta Scott King Book Award–winning poet James Berry.
by Olive Senior (Author) and Laura James (Illustrator)
Picturebook. Tradewinds Books. Pub date: June 30, 2019
In this beautifully illustrated picture book written by Commonwealth Prize-winning author Olive Senior and illustrated by the much-acclaimed artist of Anna Carries Water a little girl learns to love her difficult-to-manage curly hair.
*Full synopsis coming soon.
My Fishy Stepmom
by Shakirah Bourne (Author)
Middle grade-YA book. Blue Banyan Books. Pub date: TBA, 2019
No one is good enough for Josephine Cadogan’s Dad. Not since her mom died. Good thing she’s a master at creating booby traps to stop new girlfriends from coming into their lives.
No one survives her tricks, until Mariss comes along.
No matter what anyone else says, Josephine knows there is something ‘fishy’ about Mariss. She is just too perfect. But Mariss proves much more difficult to get rid of than the others. And maybe it’s all the stories about baccoos and douens, and other mythical creatures from Miss Mo, champion fish de-boner of Fairy Vale, or maybe it’s all the missing pets, but Josephine begins to suspect there is something downright spooky about Mariss. But will she be able to get to the bottom of the mystery?”
Party: A Mystery
by Jamaica Kincaid (Author) and Ricardo Cortés (Illustrator)
Picturebook. Black Sheep/Akashic. Pub date: June 4, 2019
Three girls—Pam, Beth, and Sue—attend a party to celebrate the publication of the first of the Nancy Drew mystery books. There are many distractions at the fancy affair: flower arrangements, party-goers, refreshments, and lots and lots of marble. Suddenly, the oldest girl, Pam, sees what can only be described as something truly . . . bilious . . . not good! Beth sees it too. The youngest, Sue, does not, and as usual she has a hard time getting anyone to tell her anything. Party: A Mystery is a beautifully drawn adventure story that promises questions that will grab children, but does not guarantee an answer. The story’s language builds and swings between lyrical and snappy—packing a wallop.
Red Panda & Moon Bear
by Jarod Roselló (Author and Illustrator)
Middle grade graphic novel. Top Shelf Productions. Pub date: March 26, 2019
Two Latinx kids battle supernatural threats to their working-class neighborhood with the power of science, magic, and a pair of very special hoodies.
Red Panda and Moon Bear are the defenders of their community! Together, these brave siblings rescue lost cats, scold bullies, and solve mysteries, all before Mamá and Papá get home. But lately… the mysteries have been EXTRA mysterious. All of RP and MB’s powers may not be enough to handle spooks, supervillains, alien invaders, and time warps! It’ll take all their imagination — and some new friends — to uncover the secret cause behind all these events before the whole world goes crazy.
In his first book for young readers, Cuban-American cartoonist Jarod Roselló presents a whimsical and tender-hearted adventure, packed with Saturday-morning action and glowing with Caribbean sunshine.
by Eric Velasquez (Author and Illustrator)
Picturebook. Holiday House. Pub date: September 17, 2019
What do you do when an octopus captures Grandma? Put on your superhero cape and rescue her! Two stories in one from award-winning Afro-Latino artist Eric Velasquez.
The octopus Grandma is cooking has grown to titanic proportions. “¡Tenga cuidado!” Ramsey shouts. “Be careful!” But it’s too late. The octopus traps Grandma!
Ramsey uses both art and intellect to free his beloved abuela.
Then the story takes a surprising twist. And it can be read two ways. Open the fold-out pages to find Ramsey telling a story to his family. Keep the pages folded, and Ramsey’s octopus adventure is real.
This beautifully illustrated picture book, drawn from the author’s childhood memories, celebrates creativity, heroism, family, grandmothers, grandsons, Puerto Rican food, Latinx culture and more.
by Ann Dávila Cardinal (Author)
YA novel. Tor Teen. Pub date: June 4, 2019
Ann Dávila Cardinal’s Five Midnights is a “wickedly thrilling” (William Alexander) novel based on the el Cuco myth set against the backdrop of modern day Puerto Rico.
Five friends cursed. Five deadly fates. Five nights of retribución.
If Lupe Dávila and Javier Utierre can survive each other’s company, together they can solve a series of grisly murders sweeping though Puerto Rico. But the clues lead them out of the real world and into the realm of myths and legends. And if they want to catch the killer, they’ll have to step into the shadows to see what’s lurking there—murderer, or monster?
Soaring Earth: A Companion Memoir to Enchanted Air
by Margarita Engle (Author)
YA verse novel. Atheneum Books for Young Readerss. Pub date: February 26, 2019
In this powerful companion to her award-winning memoir Enchanted Air, Young People’s Poet Laureate Margarita Engle recounts her teenage years during the turbulent 1960s.
Margarita Engle’s childhood straddled two worlds: the lush, welcoming island of Cuba and the lonely, dream-soaked reality of Los Angeles. But the revolution has transformed Cuba into a mystery of impossibility, no longer reachable in real life. Margarita longs to travel the world, yet before she can become independent, she’ll have to start high school.
Then the shock waves of war reach America, rippling Margarita’s plans in their wake. Cast into uncertainty, she must grapple with the philosophies of peace, civil rights, freedom of expression, and environmental protection. Despite overwhelming circumstances, she finds solace and empowerment through her education. Amid the challenges of adolescence and a world steeped in conflict, Margarita finds hope beyond the struggle, and love in the most unexpected of places.
With the Fire on High
by Elizabeth Acevedo (Author)
YA novel. HarperTeen. Pub date: May 7, 2019
From the New York Times bestselling author of the National Book Award longlist title The Poet X comes a dazzling novel in prose about a girl with talent, pride, and a drive to feed the soul that keeps her fire burning bright.
Ever since she got pregnant freshman year, Emoni Santiago’s life has been about making the tough decisions—doing what has to be done for her daughter and her abuela. The one place she can let all that go is in the kitchen, where she adds a little something magical to everything she cooks, turning her food into straight-up goodness.
Even though she dreams of working as a chef after she graduates, Emoni knows that it’s not worth her time to pursue the impossible. Yet despite the rules she thinks she has to play by, once Emoni starts cooking, her only choice is to let her talent break free.
Planting Stories: The Life of Librarian and Storyteller Pura Belpré
by Anika Aldamuy Denise (Author) and Paola Escobar (Illustrator)
Picturebook. Harper Collins. Pub date: January 15, 2019
An inspiring picture book biography of storyteller, puppeteer, and New York City’s first Puerto Rican librarian, who championed bilingual literature.
When she came to America in 1921, Pura Belpré carried the cuentos folklóricos of her Puerto Rican homeland. Finding a new home at the New York Public Library as a bilingual assistant, she turned her popular retellings into libros and spread story seeds across the land. Today, these seeds have grown into a lush landscape as generations of children and storytellers continue to share her tales and celebrate Pura’s legacy.
Brought to colorful life by Paola Escobar’s elegant and exuberant illustrations and Anika Aldamuy Denise’s lyrical text, this gorgeous book is perfect for the pioneers in your life.
Informative backmatter and suggested further reading included.
A Spanish-language edition, Sembrando historias: Pura Belpré: bibliotecaria y narradora de cuentos, is also available.
Sofi Paints Her Dreams/Sofi pinta sus sueños
by Raquel M. Ortiz (Author) and Roberta Morales Collier (Illustrator)
Picturebook. Pinata Books. Pub date: May 31, 2019
Young Sofi enters a New York City community garden and finds a half-painted mural. It’s full of big, leafy plants in blue and yellow, and a vibrant emerald green color appears where the two colors meet. As Sofi runs her fingers over the image, she is suddenly transported to a beautiful place with plants just like the ones on the wall!
Sofi finds herself in the Dominican Republic, where she meets a young boy named Juan Luis. He is writing a song, but he’s stuck on the lyrics and needs her help. After they finish the song, the pair flies over the river that separates San Pedro de Macoris from Haiti. There, Juan Luis introduces her to his friend, Güerlande, a young metal artist. She also needs Sofi’s help. Can she make just the right shade of purple to paint Güerlande’s huge mermaid sculpture?
This bilingual picture book about an imaginative girl and an enchanted mural is an engaging exploration of the cultural traditions of the Caribbean. The sequel to Sofi and the Magic, Musical Mural / Sofi y el mágico mural musical, this story introduces young readers to the art and music of the gorgeous island of Hispaniola. Kids will be encouraged to explore their own artistic talents after reading about internationally acclaimed Dominican musician, Juan Luis Guerra, and Haitian artist, Güerlande Balan.
My Mommy Medicine
by Edwidge Danticat (Author) and Shannon Wright (Illustrator)
Picturebook. Roaring Brook Press. Pub date: February 26, 2019
My Mommy Medicine is a picture book about the comfort and love a mama offers when her child isn’t feeling well, from renowned author Edwidge Danticat.
Whenever I am sick,
Or just feel kind of gloomy or sad,
I can always count on my Mommy Medicine.
When a child wakes up feeling sick, she is treated to a good dose of Mommy Medicine. Her remedy includes a yummy cup of hot chocolate; a cozy, bubble-filled bath time; and unlimited snuggles and cuddles. Mommy Medicine can heal all woes and make any day the BEST day!
Award-winning memoirist Edwidge Danticat’s rich and lyrical text envelops the reader in the security of a mother’s love, and debut artist Shannon Wright’s vibrant art infuses the story with even more warmth.
Sal and Gabi Break the Universe
by Carlos Hernández (Author)
Middle grade novel. Rick Riordan Presents. Pub date: March 5, 2019
How did a raw chicken get inside Yasmany’s locker?
When Sal Vidon meets Gabi Real for the first time, it isn’t under the best of circumstances. Sal is in the principal’s office for the third time in three days, and it’s still the first week of school. Gabi, student council president and editor of the school paper, is there to support her friend Yasmany, who just picked a fight with Sal. She is determined to prove that somehow, Sal planted a raw chicken in Yasmany’s locker, even though nobody saw him do it and the bloody poultry has since mysteriously disappeared.
Sal prides himself on being an excellent magician, but for this sleight of hand, he relied on a talent no one would guess . . . except maybe Gabi, whose sharp eyes never miss a trick. When Gabi learns that he’s capable of conjuring things much bigger than a chicken–including his dead mother–and she takes it all in stride, Sal knows that she is someone he can work with. There’s only one slight problem: their manipulation of time and space could put the entire universe at risk.
A sassy entropy sweeper, a documentary about wedgies, a principal who wears a Venetian bauta mask, and heaping platefuls of Cuban food are just some of the delights that await in his mind-blowing novel gift-wrapped in love and laughter.
Don’t Date Rosa Santos
by Nina Moreno (Author)
YA novel. Disney-Hyperion. Pub date: May 14, 2019
For fans of GILMORE GIRLS and TO ALL THE BOYS I’VE LOVED BEFORE, this effervescent love story from debut author Nina Moreno will sweep you away.
Rosa Santos is cursed by the sea-at least, that’s what they say. Dating her is bad news, especially if you’re a boy with a boat.
But Rosa feels more caught than cursed. Caught between cultures and choices. Between her abuela, a beloved healer and pillar of their community, and her mother, an artist who crashes in and out of her life like a hurricane. Between Port Coral, the quirky South Florida town they call home, and Cuba, the island her abuela refuses to talk about.
As her college decision looms, Rosa collides-literally-with Alex Aquino, the mysterious boy with tattoos of the ocean whose family owns the marina. With her heart, her family, and her future on the line, can Rosa break a curse and find her place beyond the horizon?
Silver Meadows Summer
by Emma Otheguy (Author)
Middle grade novel. Knopf Books for Young Readers. Pub date: April 30, 2019
Just right for fans of Pam Muñoz Ryan, this story of moving out and moving on is a touching portrayal of the experience of leaving one’s home country and making new friends–sometimes where least expected.
Eleven-year-old Carolina’s summer–and life as she knows it–is upended when Papi loses his job, and she and her family must move from Puerto Rico to her Tía Cuca and Uncle Porter’s house in upstate New York. Now Carolina must attend Silver Meadows camp, where her bossy older cousin Gabriela rules the social scene.
Just as Carolina worries she’ll have to spend the entire summer in Gabriela’s shadow, she makes a friend of her own in Jennifer, a fellow artist. Carolina gets another welcome surprise when she stumbles upon a long-abandoned cottage in the woods near the campsite and immediately sees its potential as a creative haven for making art. There, with Jennifer, Carolina begins to reclaim the parts of the life she loved in Puerto Rico and forget about how her relationship with Mami has changed and how distant Papi has become.
But when the future of Silver Meadows and the cottage is thrown into jeopardy, Carolina and–to everyone’s surprise–Gabriela come up with a plan to save them. Will it work?
Dealing in Dreams
by Lilliam Rivera (Author)
YA novel. Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers. Pub date: March 5, 2019
The Outsiders meets Mad Max: Fury Road in this fast-paced dystopian novel about sisterhood and the cruel choices people are forced to make in order to survive.
At night, Las Mal Criadas own these streets.
Sixteen-year-old Nalah leads the fiercest all-girl crew in Mega City. That role brings with it violent throwdowns and access to the hottest boydega clubs, but Nalah quickly grows weary of her questionable lifestyle. Her dream is to get off the streets and make a home in the exclusive Mega Towers, in which only a chosen few get to live. To make it to the Mega Towers, Nalah must prove her loyalty to the city’s benevolent founder and cross the border in a search of the mysterious gang the Ashé Ryders. Led by a reluctant guide, Nalah battles crews and her own doubts but the closer she gets to her goal the more she loses sight of everything–and everyone–she cares about.
Nalah must choose whether or not she’s willing to do the unspeakable to get what she wants. Can she discover that home is not where you live but whom you chose to protect before she loses the family she’s created for good?
The Universal Laws of Marco
by Carmen Rodrigues (Author)
Middle grade novel. TU Books. Pub date: Fall 2018
Told through the lens of a guy in love with the cosmos (and maybe two girls), The Universal Laws of Marco explores the complicated histories that bring us together and tear us apart.
In the summer before eighth grade, Marco Suarez kissed his best friend Sally Blake. This was his first spark.
And since then, whenever he’s thought about that moment, he’s traveled through a wormhole—of sorts—to relive those brief seconds when time sped up (or, rather, his view of time distorted) and he kissed her.
And then, at the end of that year, she disappeared, leaving in that way that people sometimes leave—alive and well and somewhere out there but gone, nonetheless. She never even said why.
And now in their senior year, Sally unexpectedly returns and Marco is shaken. Still, he holds tightly to his carefully choreographed life. A life that is full of reasons why first sparks don’t matter:
Reason 1: He has a girlfriend. Her name is Erika Richards.
Reason 2: He’s leaving on a full scholarship to college.
Reason 3: He’s busy with his friends and making money to help support his family.
But as Marco navigates the final days of high school, he learns that leaving home is never easy and a first spark is hard to ignore.
The Jumbie God’s Revenge
by Tracey Baptiste (Author)
Middle grade novel. Algonquin Young Readers. Pub date: September 3, 2019
In book three of the popular Jumbies series, Corinne must use her emerging supernatural powers to battle the angry god who would destroy her Caribbean island home.
When an out-of-season hurricane sweeps through Corinne’s seaside village, Corinne knows it’s not a typical storm. At first Corinne believes Mama D’Leau—the powerful and cruel jumbie who rules the ocean—has caused the hurricane. Then a second, even more ferocious storm wrecks the island, sending villagers fleeing their houses for shelter in the mountains, and Corinne discovers the storms weren’t caused by a jumbie, but by the angry god Huracan.
Now Corinne, with the help of her friends and even some of her enemies, must race against time to find out what has angered Huracan and try to fix it before her island home is destroyed forever.
A Likkle Miss Lou: How Jamaican Poet Louise Bennett Coverley Found Her Voice
by Nadia Hohn (Author) and Eugenie Fernandes (Illustrator)
Picturebook. Owlkids. Pub date: August 15, 2019
A picture book biography of the Jamaican poet Miss Lou.
*Full synopsis coming soon.
Dear Haiti, Love Alaine
by Maika Moulite (Author) and Maritza Moulite (Author)
YA novel. Inkyard Press. Pub date: September 3, 2019
This exceptional debut novel captures a sparkling new voice and irrepressible heroine in a celebration of storytelling sure to thrill fans of Nicola Yoon, Ibi Zoboi and Jenna Evans Welch!
When a school presentation goes very wrong, Alaine Beauparlant finds herself suspended, shipped off to Haiti and writing the report of a lifetime…
You might ask the obvious question: What do I, a seventeen-year-old Haitian American from Miami with way too little life experience, have to say about anything?
Actually, a lot.
Thanks to “the incident” (don’t ask), I’m spending the next two months doing what my school is calling a “spring volunteer immersion project.” It’s definitely no vacation. I’m toiling away under the ever-watchful eyes of Tati Estelle at her new nonprofit. And my lean-in queen of a mother is even here to make sure I do things right. Or she might just be lying low to dodge the media sharks after a much more public incident of her own…and to hide a rather devastating secret.
All things considered, there are some pretty nice perks…like flirting with Tati’s distractingly cute intern, getting actual face time with my mom and experiencing Haiti for the first time. I’m even exploring my family’s history—which happens to be loaded with betrayals, superstitions and possibly even a family curse.
You know, typical drama. But it’s nothing I can’t handle.
The Stars and the Blackness Between Them
by Junauda Petrus (Author)
YA novel. Dutton Books for Young Readers. Pub date: September 17, 2019
Told in two distinct and irresistible voices, Junauda Petrus’s bold and lyrical debut is the story of two black girls from very different backgrounds finding love and happiness in a world that seems determined to deny them both.
Trinidad. Sixteen-year-old Audre is despondent, having just found out she’s going to be sent to live in America with her father because her strictly religious mother caught her with her secret girlfriend, the pastor’s daughter. Audre’s grandmother Queenie (a former dancer who drives a white convertible Cadillac and who has a few secrets of her own) tries to reassure her granddaughter that she won’t lose her roots, not even in some place called Minneapolis. “America have dey spirits too, believe me,” she tells Audre.
Minneapolis. Sixteen-year-old Mabel is lying on her bed, staring at the ceiling and trying to figure out why she feels the way she feels–about her ex Terrell, about her girl Jada and that moment they had in the woods, and about the vague feeling of illness that’s plagued her all summer. Mabel’s reverie is cut short when her father announces that his best friend and his just-arrived-from-Trinidad daughter are coming for dinner.
Mabel quickly falls hard for Audre and is determined to take care of her as she tries to navigate an American high school. But their romance takes a turn when test results reveal exactly why Mabel has been feeling low-key sick all summer and suddenly it’s Audre who is caring for Mabel as she faces a deeply uncertain future.
Junauda Petrus’s debut brilliantly captures the distinctly lush and lyrical voices of Mabel and Audre as they conjure a love that is stronger than hatred, prison, and death and as vast as the blackness between the stars.
by Maya Motayne (Author)
YA novel. Balzer + Bray. Pub date: May 7, 2019
The first in a sweeping and epic own voices debut fantasy trilogy—set in a stunning Latinx-inspired world—about a face-changing thief and a risk-taking prince who must team up to defeat a powerful evil they accidentally unleashed. Perfect for fans of Tomi Adeyemi, Leigh Bardugo, and V. E. Schwab.
To Finn Voy, magic is two things: a knife to hold under the chin of anyone who crosses her…and a disguise she shrugs on as easily as others pull on cloaks.
As a talented faceshifter, it’s been years since Finn has seen her own face, and that’s exactly how she likes it. But when Finn gets caught by a powerful mobster, she’s forced into an impossible mission: steal a legendary treasure from Castallan’s royal palace or be stripped of her magic forever.
After the murder of his older brother, Prince Alfehr is first in line for the Castallan throne. But Alfie can’t help but feel that he will never live up to his brother’s legacy. Riddled with grief, Alfie is obsessed with finding a way to bring his brother back, even if it means dabbling in forbidden magic.
But when Finn and Alfie’s fates collide, they accidentally unlock a terrible, ancient power—which, if not contained, will devour the world. And with Castallan’s fate in their hands, Alfie and Finn must race to vanquish what they have unleashed, even if it means facing the deepest darkness in their pasts.
by Zalika Reid-Benta (Author)
Middle grade/YA short story collection. House of Anansi Press. Pub date: June 4, 2019
Kara Davis is a girl caught in the middle — of her Canadian nationality and her desire to be a “true” Jamaican, of her mother and grandmother’s rages and life lessons, of having to avoid being thought of as too “faas” or too “quiet” or too “bold” or too “soft.” Set in “Little Jamaica,” Toronto’s Eglinton West neighbourhood, Kara moves from girlhood to the threshold of adulthood, from elementary school to high school graduation, in these twelve interconnected stories. We see her on a visit to Jamaica, startled by the sight of a severed pig’s head in her great aunt’s freezer; in junior high, the victim of a devastating prank by her closest friends; and as a teenager in and out of her grandmother’s house, trying to cope with the ongoing battles between her unyielding grandparents.
A rich and unforgettable portrait of growing up between worlds, Frying Plantain shows how, in one charged moment, friendship and love can turn to enmity and hate, well-meaning protection can become control, and teasing play can turn to something much darker. In her brilliantly incisive debut, Zalika Reid-Benta artfully depicts the tensions between mothers and daughters, second-generation Canadians and first-generation cultural expectations, and Black identity and predominately white society.
The Truth Is
by NoNieqa Ramos (Author)
YA novel. Carolrhoda Lab. Pub date: September 3, 2019
A powerful exploration of love, identity, and self-worth through the eyes of a fierce, questioning Puerto Rican teen.
Fifteen-year-old Verdad doesn’t think she has time for love. She’s still struggling to process the recent death of her best friend, Blanca; dealing with the high expectations of her hardworking Puerto Rican mother and the absence of her remarried father; and keeping everyone at a distance. But when she meets Danny, a new guy at school–who happens to be trans–all bets are off. Verdad suddenly has to deal with her mother’s disapproval of her relationship with Danny as well as her own prejudices and questions about her identity, and Danny himself, who is comfortable in his skin but keeping plenty of other secrets.
by Claribel Ortega (Author)
Middle grade novel. Scholastic Press. Pub date: September 3, 2019
The hurricane-swept town of St. Augustine is the only home Lucely Luna has ever known. It’s the same home her father grew up in, and his parents before him. In fact, all of the deceased relatives in the Luna family now live as firefly spirits in the weeping willow tree in their backyard.
Shortly before Halloween, a mysterious storm appears on the radar heading towards St. Augustine, causing Lucely’s firefly spirits to lose their connection to this world. In an effort to save them, Lucely finds a spell to bring them back to life, but accidentally brings more spirits to the town than she’d planned. Ghosts start showing up all around town, some more dangerous than others, wreaking havoc.
Lucely will have to band together with her best friend and occult buff, Syd, along with Syd’s witch grandmother, Babette, and her tubby tabby, Chunk, to fight the haunting head on, save the town, and save her firefly spirits all before the full moon culminates on Halloween.
by Candice Carty-Williams (Author)
YA crossover novel. Gallery/Scout Press . Pub date: March 19, 2019
Bridget Jones’s Diary meets Americanah in this disarmingly honest, boldly political, and truly inclusive novel that will speak to anyone who has gone looking for love and found something very different in its place.
Queenie Jenkins is a 25-year-old Jamaican British woman living in London, straddling two cultures and slotting neatly into neither. She works at a national newspaper, where she’s constantly forced to compare herself to her white middle class peers. After a messy break up from her long-term white boyfriend, Queenie seeks comfort in all the wrong places…including several hazardous men who do a good job of occupying brain space and a bad job of affirming self-worth.
As Queenie careens from one questionable decision to another, she finds herself wondering, “What are you doing? Why are you doing it? Who do you want to be?”—all of the questions today’s woman must face in a world trying to answer them for her.
With “fresh and honest” (Jojo Moyes) prose, Queenie is a remarkably relatable exploration of what it means to be a modern woman searching for meaning in today’s world.
The Black Flamingo
by Dean Atta (Author)
YA novel in verse. Hodder Children’s Books. Pub date: August 8, 2019
Fiercely told, this is a bold and timely coming-of-age story, told in verse about one boy’s journey to self-acceptance. Perfect for fans of Sara Crossan, The Poet Xand Orangeboy.
A boy comes to terms with his identity as a mixed-race gay teen – then at university he finds his wings as a drag artist, The Black Flamingo. A bold story about the power of embracing your uniqueness. Sometimes, we need to take charge, to stand up wearing pink feathers – to show ourselves to the world in bold colour.
I masquerade in makeup and feathers and I am applauded.
by Torrey Maldonado (Author)
Nancy Paulsen Books. Pub date: TBA
*Synopsis coming soon
Belly Full Stew
by Heidi Fagerberg (Author) and Ann-Cathrine Loo (Illustrator)
Picturebook. CaribbeanReads. Pub date: TBA
*Synopsis coming soon
Rafi and Rosi: Music!/Rafi y Rosi: música!
by Lulu Delacre (Author and Illustrator)
Early Reader. Lee & Low Books. Pub date: TBA
In this new book in the popular Dive Into Reading: Rafi and Rosi chapter book series, Rafi and his younger sister, Rosi, are excited to learn about and participate in the traditional forms of music of their native Puerto Rico. They drum and dance to the rolling and rippling beats of bomba instruments. They sing and sway with the rhythms of plena songs. And they attend a party where they eat paella and warm corn fritters and dance to the hot, spicy beat of la salsa!
El baile de octavo y otros recuerdos / The Eighth Grade Dance and Other Memories
by Ada de Jesús (Author) and Nicolás Kanellos (Translator)
YA book. Pinata Books. Pub date: May 31, 2019
Eleven-year-old Ada De Jesús was on the cusp of her teens when she moved to the United States from Puerto Rico. Hurricane Hugo had just decimated the island and her father couldn’t find a job.
In Chicago, the white dress she arrived in didn’t protect her from the snow and frigid temperatures! Constantly exposed to new things, she developed a resilience that served her well. “From one place to another, like riding a bike, if you keep pedaling, you won’t fall.”
Ada discovered that students in the United States were frequently disrespectful to their teachers. At school she often felt like a two-year-old as she grappled with a completely new language. In addition to navigating a different culture, she had to deal with all the issues familiar to teenage girls: the growth of body hair, pimples, menstruation and of course boys! Her memories of first intimate encounters, fending off unwanted advances and fear of pregnancy will strike a chord with readers.
In these short vignettes recollecting her middle-school years, Ada De Jesús shares her poignant and often funny experiences as a newcomer and an adolescent. Young readers will relate to—and laugh at—her experiences; some may take heart that they too will overcome the difficulties common at this age.
Oh My Gods
by Alexandra Sheppard (Author)
YA novel. Scholastic. Pub date: January 3, 2019
Life as a half-mortal teenager should be epic.
But, for Helen Thomas, it’s tragic.
She’s just moved in with her dorky dad and self-absorbed older siblings – who happen to be the ancient Greek gods, living incognito in London!
Between keeping her family’s true identities secret, trying to impress her new friends, and meeting an actually cute boy, Helen’s stress levels are higher than Mount Olympus.
She needs to rein in her chaotic family before they blow their cover AND her chances at a half-normal social life.
*Our note: Like the author, the main character is a biracial Jamaican Brit teen.
This Train Is Being Held
by Ismée Williams (Author)
YA novel. Amulet Books. Pub date: September 10, 2019
When private school student Isabelle Warren first meets Dominican-American Alex Rosario on the downtown 1 train, she remembers his green eyes and his gentlemanly behavior. He remembers her untroubled happiness, something he feels all rich kids must possess. That, and her long dancer legs.
Over the course of multiple subway encounters spanning the next three years, Isabelle learns of Alex’s struggle with his father, who is hell-bent on Alex being a contender for the major leagues, despite Alex’s desire to go to college and become a poet. Alex learns about Isabelle’s unstable mother, a woman with a prejudice against Latino men. But fate—and the 1 train—throw them together when Isabelle needs Alex most. Heartfelt and evocative, this romantic drama will appeal to readers of Jenny Han and Sarah Dessen.
When Julia Danced Bomba/Cuando Julia Bailaba Bomba
by Raquel M. Ortiz (Author) and Flor de Vita (Illustrator)
Picturebook. Arte Publico Press. Pub date: December 2019
Young Julia struggles with the steps to the Afro-Puerto Rican dance known as bomba, but when she quits trying so hard and listens and feels the beat of the drums, she is able to relax, enjoy herself, and do the steps perfectly.
In the Key of Nira Ghani
by Natasha Deen (Author)
YA novel. Running Press Kids. Pub date: April 9, 2019
A Guyanese girl must find the balance between her parents’ “old world” expectations and traditions while pursuing her dream of being a great trumpeter in this contemporary, coming-of-age story, written by an #OwnVoices author.
Nira Ghani has always dreamed of becoming a musician. Her Guyanese parents, however, have big plans for her to become a scientist or doctor. Nira’s grandmother and her best friend, Emily, are the only people who seem to truly understand her desire to establish an identity outside of the one imposed on Nira by her parents. When auditions for jazz band are announced, Nira realizes it’s now or never to convince her parents that she deserves a chance to pursue her passion.
As if fighting with her parents weren’t bad enough, Nira finds herself navigating a new friendship dynamic when her crush, Noah, and notorious mean-girl, McKenzie “Mac,” take a sudden interest in her and Emily, inserting themselves into the fold. So, too, does Nira’s much cooler (and very competitive) cousin Farah. Is she trying to wiggle her way into the new group to get closer to Noah? Is McKenzie trying to steal Emily’s attention away from her? As Farah and Noah grow closer and Emily begins to pull away, Nira’s trusted trumpet “George” remains her constant, offering her an escape from family and school drama.
But it isn’t until Nira takes a step back that she realizes she’s not the only one struggling to find her place in the world. As painful truths about her family are revealed, Nira learns to accept people for who they are and to open herself in ways she never thought possible.
A relatable and timely contemporary, coming-of age story, In the Key of Nira Ghaniexplores the social and cultural struggles of a teen in an immigrant household.
The Dark of the Sea
by Imam Baksh (Author)
YA novel. Blue Banyan Books. Pub date: September 15, 2019
Obsessed with girls, devoid of muscles and faced with hostile teachers and a reading disability, 15-year-old Danesh has been struggling to survive life in the lower bowls of the Essequibo high school system. In a community wracked by alcoholism, suicide and corruption, he sees no purposeful path for himself.
Then, Medusa, a creature of savage beauty and determination, crashes into his life and reveals a whole new world beneath the muddy waves—a world full of wonder, adventure and the possibility of becoming a better person. But Danesh soon learns that the path before him is not an easy one and to get there he just may have to redefine what it means to be a hero.
A Dark Iris
by Elizabeth J. Jones (Author)
YA novel. Blue Banyan Books. Pub date: July 15, 2019
It is 1972 and 12-year-old Rebekah Eve is excited to be on her way to the prestigious Meridian Institute with her best friend, Wanda. But Rebekah’s joy is dampened by her parents’ separation. She misses having her father at home and the fun things they did together. Most of all, she dislikes her mother’s new ‘friend’–Thomas Forster–who is trying way too hard to win her over. These personal changes take place while her country, goes through dramatic changes of its own, and life gets even more complicated when her new friend Zende is arrested for the attempted assassination of the Governor.
To cope, Rebekah turns to her art. But her paintings take on new, or rather ‘old’ life, as figures from the past seep in and replace her usual subjects. She is thrust into a whirlwind of emotion as her visions and the resulting paintings unveil wounds of the past that are not buried as deeply as some would like.
With help from the mysterious Lady of the Library and her new art tutor Mr. Stowe, Rebekah makes sense of these visions and unearths the truth behind one of Bermuda’s legends. But some truths are difficult for anyone, especially a young girl, to digest. Ultimately, she must learn to trust herself, believe in her talents, and that even a little black girl from a small island, could one day become a famous artist.