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The Booklist Review of the Day, posted to the top of the Booklist Online home page each day of the week, spotlights exceptional upcoming titles that are notable for different reasons—they may be starred, in high demand, or especially relevant to the current issue’s spotlight.
The Reviews of the Week, posted each Monday, offers a comprehensive look at the previous week’s awardees—while also piquing interest for the week ahead. Catch up on the week of June 6 below, then dive into the week at hand with today’s Review of the Day, Coming Up Cuban, by Sonia Manzano, read by Viva Font and others. For more Reviews of the Week and other exciting lists, check out the always freely available Booklist Blog.
Tuesday, September 6
Pickleball for All, by Rachel Simon
During the COVID lockdown, journalist Simon found herself low on shows to stream and tried a new activity called pickleball. She googled a few tutorials, had a blast playing a game with her (now) husband, and later wrote an article about pickleball as a “Perfect Pandemic Pastime” for The New York Times. Since then, she has expanded that story into this informative and helpful book about what has become a wildly popular sport.
Wednesday, September 7
★ Just like Jesse Owens, by Andrew Young and Paula Young Shelton and illustrated by Gordon C. James.
Told in first person from the viewpoint of Andrew Young as a child growing up in New Orleans, the story begins with one of his white playmates showing off the nickel that his Aunt Ida has paid him “‘not to play with ‘those Colored boys,’ but Norbie didn’t pay her no never mind.” Later, Andy asks his father about Hitler supporters in their neighborhood. His father explains racism as a sickness, saying, “We’ve got to help those folks,” and encouraging Andy to be the best person he can be, by doing homework, practicing baseball, being polite, and greeting everyone without regard to skin color. Soon, at a theater they must enter by the back stairs, Andy and his father watch newsreels featuring Jesse Owens winning four gold medals at the 1936 Berlin Olympics, further inspiring Andy to work hard and become the best he can be.
Thursday, September 8
★ Demon Copperhead, by Barbara Kingsolver
“A kid is a terrible thing to be, in charge of nothing.” So says young Damon Fields, who’s destined to be known as Demon Copperhead, a hungry orphan in a snake-harboring holler in Lee County, Virginia, where meth and opioids kill and nearly everyone is just scraping by. With his red hair and the “light-green eyes of a Melungeon,” Damon’s a dead-ringer for his dead father, whom he never met. More parent to his mother than she was to him, he’s subjected to hellish foster situations after her death, forced into hard labor, including a stint in a tobacco field, which ignites one of many righteous indictments of greed and exploitation.
Friday, September 9
★ The Epic Story of Every Living Thing, by Deb Caletti
Printz Honor Book winner Caletti (A Heart in a Body in the World, 2018) introduces readers to only-child Harper, the product of a sperm donation. Riddled with anxiety that’s grown worse since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, Harper finds a sense of control as a social media influencer. But her life is thrown into chaos when, through a boy named Dario, she discovers a link to the man who made her mother’s pregnancy possible. As she comes to discover that she has dozens of siblings, Harper and some of her newfound family embark on a journey to Hawai’i to meet the man who helped create them. Each chapter, introduced by a journal entry or letter by real-life nineteenth-century ship commander Mary Ann Brown Patten, brings Harper closer to finding her courage in this heartwarming and authentic story that’s packed with a collage of well-researched detail, people, and themes that heighten the book’s realism.
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