October 2022


October 2022 Stars & Big Picture

Starred titles are books of special distinction. See the archives for selections from previous months.

Applegate, KatherineOdder; illus. by Charles Santoso. Feiwel & Friends, 2022 [288p]
Trade ed. ISBN 9781250147424 $16.99
E-book ed. ISBN 9781250147431 $9.99
Reviewed from digital galleys   R* Gr. 2-4

Bonilla, Rocio In the Neighborhood; written and illus. by Rocio Bonilla. Charlesbridge, 2022 [32p]
Trade ed. ISBN 9781623543600 $17.99
E-book ed. ISBN 9781632892478 $9.99
Reviewed from digital galleys   R* 4-7 yrs

Capetta, A. R. ed. Tasting Light: Ten Science Fiction Stories to Rewire Your Perceptions; ed. by A. R. Capetta and Wade Roush. MITeen, 2022 [320p]
Trade ed. ISBN 9781536219388 $19.99
E-book ed. ISBN 9781536227093 $19.99
Reviewed from digital galleys   R* Gr. 8-12

See this month’s Big Picture, below, for review.

Comrie, Courtne Rain Rising. HarperCollins, 2022 [336]
Trade ed. ISBN 9780063159730 $16.99
E-book ed. ISBN 9780063159747 $8.99
Reviewed from digital galleys   R* Gr. 5-8

Delaney, Trynne A House Unsettled. Annick Press, 2022 [360p]
Trade ed. ISBN 9781773216959 $19.95
Reviewed from digital galleys   R* Gr. 9-12

Gilmore, SophieThe Sea in the Way; written and illus. by Sophie Gilmore. Greenwillow, 2022 [40p]
Trade ed. ISBN 9780063025196 $17.99
Reviewed from digital galleys   R* 4-7 yrs

Glaze, AmandaThe Second Death of Edie and Violet Bond. Union Square & Co., 2022 [368p]
Trade ed. ISBN 9781454946786 $18.99
Reviewed from digital galleys   R* Gr. 8-12

Joy, AngelaChoosing Brave: How Mamie Till-Mobley and Emmett Till Sparked the Civil Rights Movement; illus. by Janelle Washington. Roaring Brook, 2022 [64p]
Trade ed. ISBN 9781250220950 $19.99
E-book ed. ISBN 9781250893673 $10.99
Reviewed from digital galleys   R* Gr. 3-5

Montague, LizMaybe an Artist: A Graphic Novel Memoir; written and illus. by Liz Montague. Random House Studio, 2022 [176p]
Trade ed. ISBN 9780593307816 $24.99
Paper ed. ISBN 9780593307823 $17.99
E-book ed. ISBN 9780593307847 $11.99
Reviewed from digital galleys   R* Gr. 6-8

Pasternack, SofiyaBlack Bird, Blue Road. Versify, 2022 [320p]
Trade ed. ISBN 9780358572039 $16.99
E-book ed. ISBN 9780358571889 $9.99
Reviewed from digital galleys   R* Gr. 4-7

Rogers, Andrea L.Man Made Monsters; illus. by Jeff Edwards. Levine Querido, 2022 [336p]
Trade ed. ISBN 9781646141791 $19.99
Reviewed from digital galleys   R* Gr. 7-12

Schroeder, Kristen So Much Snow; illus. by Sarah Jacoby. Random House Studio, 2022 [40p]
Trade ed. ISBN 9780593308202 $18.99
E-book ed. ISBN 9780593308226 $10.99
Reviewed from digital galleys   R* 3-7 yrs

Tan, ShaunCreature: Paintings, Drawings, and Reflections; written and illus. by Shaun Tan. Levine Querido, 2022 [224p]
Trade ed. ISBN 9781646142002 $35.00
Reviewed from digital galleys   R* Gr. 9-12

Underwood, DeborahJo Bright and the Seven Bots; illus. by Meg Hunt. Chronicle, 2022 [44p]
Trade ed. ISBN 9781452171302 $17.99
E-book ed. ISBN 9781797204505 $11.99
Reviewed from digital galleys   R* 4-6 yrs

Weatherford, Carole Boston Me and the Family Tree; illus. by Ashleigh Corrin. Sourcebooks, 2022 [24p]
Trade ed. ISBN 9781728242491 $7.99
Reviewed from digital galleys   R* 0-3 yrs

Williams, Alicia D.The Talk; illus. by Briana Mukodiri Uchendu. Atheneum/Simon, 2022 [40p]
Trade ed. ISBN 9781534495296 $18.99
E-book ed. ISBN 9781534495302 $10.99
Reviewed from digital galleys   R* 6-10 yrs

Cover image of Tasting Light, edited by A. R. Capetta and Wade RoushTasting Light: Ten Science Fiction Stories to Rewire Your Perceptions

Written by Jon Scieszka; illustrated by Julia Rothman

Hard science fiction is relatively rare in YA literature, which is unfortunate considering how well suited it seems for teen readers. By its very nature, adolescence is a quest beyond the familiar boundaries of childhood, a search for a unique identity formed from what was and what is. Hard science fiction uses that same model of combining known and not quite realized technology into speculation that pushes the world forward. This sublime collection highlights those parallels with both wit and wisdom, and the stories affirm how impactful and memorable this sub-genre can be.

Editors Capetta and Roush deploy the short story format with precision and purpose; the stories are distinctly beautiful, immediately engaging, and relentlessly provocative. The connective tissue is the meaning and significance of identity—who we are, who we can never be, or who we can, with a healthy dose of luck or grit, become in the swirl of time, place, situation, and cultural moments. Each story here is intentionally, effectively diverse, and each celebrates the quest to create labels that actually fit individual identities, rather than choosing from suffocating frameworks that earn legitimacy only by their familiarity. Concepts of race, ethnicity, gender, sexuality, and even humanity itself are challenged and redefined with a fearlessness and brash disregard for tradition that is reserved primarily for the young.

“Melantis” by Junauda Petrus-Nasah is an instant classic, examining the political and cultural fallout of an expensive drug used by pregnant mothers to boost the intelligence of (almost exclusively white) babies. Years later, an unexpected side effect emerges: those children and teens are now experiencing a change in their melanin production, causing uproar about how their privileged selves are being treated now that they are perceived as Black. Similarly, K. Ancrum’s “Walk 153” is immediately powerful—masked walkers roam cities with cameras on their chests, paid to essentially be proxies for their customers and send their anonymous perspective to people who can’t or won’t leave their homes. This premise pushes the limitations and dehumanization of gig culture out to an extreme degree before looping back to humanity after two people risk breaking the rules to make an actual connection.

A.S. King’s final story, “Smile River,” wraps up the collection in stunning fashion, offering a tale that may feel startlingly familiar to readers who have been told to “just smile” all their lives. As the narrative jumps between different generations of one family, readers track how the societal emphasis on happiness (and control) leads to the development of a neural implant that forces someone—most often, a woman—to smile. It is a sickeningly small leap to this future where smiling is compulsory and medically enforced for women from a present that has yet to fully recognize a woman’s autonomy. The story makes a worthy finisher, as the clever and harsh critique of the whole darn time continuum and how women fare on it ultimately gives way to a hopeful, perhaps even quietly empowering, closing note.

Science fiction is all about the “what ifs,” but hard sci-fi with protagonists as bold as these becomes something more about how to get to a better future rather than wondering whether that future is possible. These characters are running full speed away from social limitations and toward entirely new models that could still exist within the known world. Teens who are very much living in a world that is on the brink of both disaster and possibility (in not always equal measures) will connect with the urgency in these stories. Such is the magic of hard science fiction, and these editors have found an impressive range of authors to explore the next possible steps, both dire and hopeful.

–April Spisak, reviewer

Cover image of Tasting Light: Ten Science Fiction Stories to Rewire Your Perceptions, reproduced by permission of the publisher, Candlewick Press, Somerville, MA.