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In recognition of the complicated intricacies of families and family secrets we present the panel: My So-Called Family. Each book has delved into the complex relationships we share with our parents and the importance of friendships and found families.
Marigold Johnson can’t wait to attend a special program at her family’s business, Flexx Unlimited, for teens who love fashion. Throughout the program Mari uncovers some hard truths about her family and what happens when parents pick and choose what they shield from their children. Keeping it Real by Paula Chase explores complex themes about betrayal, conformity, and forgiveness.
While all of Anthony Joplin’s friends are stressed about fifth grade homework and class, Ant is concerned about one thing: how he’ll measure up to his father’s expectations at the card table. Ant is finally old enough to play in the Spades tournament every Joplin man before him seems to have won. Secrets seem to be another Joplin Man tradition, and Ant’s father is hiding one so big it may tear the family apart. Varian Johnson’s Playing the Cards You’re Dealt delves into themes of toxic masculinity, family, and legacy.
Dreaming of adventures that extend beyond their small town, Caleb Franklin and his big brother Bobby Gene meet their new neighbor Styx Malone. Styx promises the brothers that together, the three of them can pull off the Great Escalator Trade–bartering one small thing for something better until they achieve their wildest dream. But as the trades get bigger, the brothers soon find themselves in over their heads. In The Season of Styx Malone by Kekla Magoon, the boys learn about friendships and found family.
Paula Chase is the author of many novels for middle grade and young adult readers such as Dough Boys, So Done, and Turning Point. She is also the co-founder of The Brown Bookshelf, an organization that increases awareness of African American voices writing for young readers.
Varian Johnson has written a number of award-winning books for young readers, including The Parker Inheritance, The Great Greene Heist, and the graphic novel Twins.
Kekla Magoon is the award-winning author of many fiction and nonfiction books for young readers, including The Season of Styx Malone, The Rock and the River, How It Went Down, and the Robyn Hoodlum Adventure series.
Dr. Kimberly N. Parker is currently the Director of the Crimson Summer Academy at Harvard University, based in Boston. Dr. Parker is the 2020 recipient of the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE) Outstanding Elementary Educator Award; a co-founder of #DisruptTexts and #31DaysBIPOC; and the current president of the Black Educators’ Alliance of MA (BEAM).