Caitlyn's Recommendation: Buzzing by Samuel Sattin
This realistic fiction graphic novel tells the story of Isaac, a 12-year-old boy who struggles with anxiety. His compulsions and negative thoughts are illustrated as bees who are constantly surrounding him, whispering things into his ear such as: if he doesn't tug his ear the car will crash, he has brain damage, people are pretending to be his friend, his lips look uneven, etc. When Isaac finds a group of friends who play a fictionalized version of D&D, his negative thoughts start to recede, but it may not last as long as he hoped. This book is a great illustration of what mental health struggles look like, and for kids who may be struggling, or looking for a way to understand it, this is a perfect read for them. For grades 5 and up.
Kristy's Recommendation: Divine Rivals by Rebecca Ross
This sweeping, romantic YA fantasy story will transport you to another time and place. After centuries of sleep, the gods have awoken and are warring again. In this alternate historical version of our world, some humans are called to fight for one god or the other and must go to the front lines where a brutal battle is fought using monsters. Iris Winnow lives with her mother who battles a drinking problem and desperately misses her brother who is missing from the front lines. Her only hope is to get promoted to staff writer at the newspaper so she can make enough money to support herself and fulfill her dreams of becoming a successful journalist. Her cold, handsome rival at the newspaper, Roman Kitt, has the same goals and his own unique battles to fight at home. A series of unexpected events brings these two together in an unforgettable story both dazzling and exciting. Perfect for this time of year! Recommended to readers in grades 8 and up.
Felicia's Recommendation: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes by Suzanne Collins
Read the prequel to the Hunger Games before the movie comes out this month! Though, reading The Hunger Games trilogy before is fun, it is definitely not needed. The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes follows the 10th Hunger Games and 18-year-old Coriolanus Snow as one of the first mentors for tributes. The once-great Snow family has fallen on some hard times, and Coriolanus feels like it's up to him to help bring his family back to glory. When he gets stuck with the District 12 female tribute, he knows he has his work cut out for him. Their fates are now intertwined and Coriolanus will do whatever he can to make sure his tribute makes it to the end of the Hunger Games. Recommended for grades 8 and up.