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A Review of Recommended Books for 2021

By Holly Johnson, University of Cincinnati, Cincinnati, OH

Throughout the year, a member of the Worlds of Words community recommends a book for others to enjoy. In 2021, we highlighted 12 books, and I thought it would be great to see them all together to get a sense of how 2021 unfolded. There are six middle/secondary school novels, one graphic novel and five picturebooks worthy of a second look. Here are the books we recommended:

JANUARY
Cover art for Cane Warriors features a blue and black photograph of a young Black boy with an ink drawing of Tacky's Rebellion in the background.
Cane Warriors (2020) by Alex Wheatle. Set in 1760 Jamaica, Moa is an enslaved 14-year-old boy who works the sugar cane fields. While his family is also on the plantation, he rarely sees them, but does affiliate with a small group of others to consider escaping over the celebration of the Easter holiday. Moa is frightened, but believes in the cause of freedom, and thus is resolved to join the others in either escape or a fight for freedom. This narrative chronicles Tacky’s Rebellion, an actual historical event, and one seldom studied in schools or written about for younger readers. While written in common usage English, the dialogue is Jamaican patois, giving it an authentic richness. A narrative that is both insightful and uplifting, Cane Warrior is a critical addition to Caribbean literature.

Alex Wheatle is a finalist for the 2021 NSK Neustadt Prize for Children’s Literature and Cane Warriors was Shortlisted for the 2020 Caribbean Readers’ Awards. Continue reading

WOW Recommends: Book of the Month

WOW Recommends: Firekeeper’s Daughter

Jacket art for Firekeeper's Daughter depicts two young Ojibwe women nose to nose in profile. Their skin tones vary slightly. Their profiles form the interior outline of a butterfly whose tail extends long enough to wrap around the title. The author describes the feeling of the art as purely 'Nish or Anishinaabek.Angeline Boulley’s debut novel, Firekeeper’s Daughter, is a contemporary YA thriller about an Ojibwe teen living in the Great Lakes area who struggles to balance her identity, honor her community and pursue justice. Just out of high school, Daunis Fontaine halts her plans to go away for college and instead stay home to care for loved ones. Jamie, an intriguing new guy in town with a mysterious scar, captures her attention before pulling her into an FBI investigation. From here, Daunis experiences trauma to top an already challenging existence. This includes drugs, murder, rape, kidnapping and betrayal. Continue reading