Monthly Archives: April 2018

Virginia Reader’s Choice: Imagery


Have you ever read a book so beautifully written that, upon closing your eyes, you can see everything? I am always awed by an author’s ability to use the same words that the rest of us use but in a way that evokes an image that the reader feels a part of it. Inkheart is one such book and that Cornelia Funke’s first language isn’t even English makes it even more astounding. Another book to add to the list is The Star-Touched Queen by Roshani Chokshi. This is one of the VA Reader’s Choice (high school) titles for the 2018-2019 school year.

“I could see where the winds yawned with silver lips and curled themselves to sleep. I could glimpse the moon folding herself into crescents and half-smiles.” Maya is a princess who has been left to her own devices for most of her life. She has free reign of the castle and grounds and takes advantage of it. This day, however, she cannot spend daydreaming. Her father has an announcement about the impending war. From her perch in the rafters, she is shocked when his solution involves marrying her off to appease the rebels. Her days of freedom are over, or so she thinks. As it turns out, being the queen of Akaran gives her the voice she’s never had and a power she never expected. Not all is as it seems in her new kingdom, however. There are doors that are locked to her and secrets hiding behind Amar’s eyes. Soon, she will make a decision that will shake herself and everything around her to the core and she must find her way through the secrets in order to save herself, Amar and the very world she loves.

This story is fantasy, mysticism, and magic; a tapestry woven with human strands that fray and end. It is a story of betrayal and rebuilt trust but most of all, it is a story about the power of love.

Issues, With a Twist


If you’ve read YA books at all, you know that they all deal with some sort of teenage issue because teenagers are some of the most interesting people on the planet. I am, of course, biased as I have worked with them for most of my adult career. I started You’re Welcome, Universe by Whitney Gardner because I like the idea of graffiti. It’s beautiful, complicated, defiant, unruly, emotional…just like most teens. There are a plethora of issues in this book and I was a bit worried that they would steal the focus but in the hands of a good writer, it was just a really good story!

The slur was nasty and Julia could not let that stand. Jordyn is her best (and only) friend so Julia paints over the ugliness with a beautiful mural on the school wall, late at night, without permission. Days later, she is kicked out of her nice, safe school for the deaf. Why? Because Jordyn snitched on her to the principal. Now, Julia is stuck in a regular public school with a t00-perky interpreter and the weight of her two mother’s disappointment. The only thing left to her is her art and she’s not about to give that up. In an effort to carve out her own space, she tags several locations only to find them changed the next day. Not just change but improved. She’s been called out and must answer but at what cost? With some unexpected allies, Julia finds herself in the middle of a graffiti war that touches more than just overpasses and water towers.

Deaf culture, prejudice, lesbian parents (one of whom is Indian-American), graffiti…seems like a lot to tackle in one book but Whitney Gardner expertly weaves them through the tale making it as vibrant and wild as the street art that may just be Julia’s true best friend.