Out of Breath: Kendra's Big Secret

This is a wonderful story with a crazy cast of characters that emphasizes the importance of healthy self-esteem, and not putting yourself at risk out of fear of what others may say. This book fills a gap by addressing the topic of asthma, which has a higher prevalence in low-income communities and among children of color. The authors recognize that children are often ashamed of health conditions and by writing this story, they encourage children not to shy away from talking about their own health conditions. Readers can learn that you shouldn’t assume or judge the words or actions of others.

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The Blue Spark

This is a thoughtful, illustrated book about children who can see the good in others and help them change. Max starts the story by saying "Being bad never felt so good. Evil runs in my family." His counterpart Ronnie believes "Goodness is in all of us. My family stands for justice." After wonderfully illustrated interactions between the two, Max is able to see the goodness in himself. 

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One Lonely Camel

"We read One Lonely Camel today, and the kids really loved it. They gasped with shock (Larry's story really touched them), they giggled (at Tunechi's antics), and they roared their approval (the popular culture references). In short, it was a huge hit! When I asked who would give it 4 stars (our highest rating) all 20 hands shot up. I asked them why they liked it so much, and Akera said it best: "Those big kids wrote about things that all kids like, whether they're big or little."...Kam appreciated how the animals hid their sadness and seemed happy on the outside but were sad sometimes on the inside. Many of the kids thought that aspect of the book was really touching."

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Our Lives Matter

The common theme through “Our Lives Matter” is one of hope and determination. These teenagers refuse to be judged and pigeonholed, offering their stories to emphasize their differences, their commonalities, their dreams and their commitment to education and change. Through it all forms a thread of hope that the new generation will make the world a better place and fight the barriers that keep us separated.

–Louisiana Book News

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A To Z: The Real DC

I've read many A to Z picture books in my days, but what makes this one special is not only its photographs of D.C. landmarks, but also the creativity of the photographs. My favorite is "F" is for Frederick Douglas. Not only do the pages show pictures of the Frederick Douglas Historic Site, but a photo of what I presume is one of the book's authors "shaking hands" with the statue of Frederick Douglas. It's these sorts of shots that delight children and adults alike. The book's illustrations and verses also call out for the reader to discover D.C. destinations that have yet to be explored and to start planning on re-visiting more familiar ones. On some of the pages I can almost taste the food, hear the sounds of traffic, and smell the scents of animals and plants. The fact that this book was created by D.C. teens is just icing on the cake.

--Bookfan, amazon reviewer

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Khalil's Swagtown Adventure

Combining reality with fantasy (loved the purple broccoli trees!), this book takes on a tough real-life situation that many children find themselves in --- upset by parents arguing. It acknowledges a child's feelings while encouraging a child to talk to parents about those feelings. The story also acknowledges that many adults find themselves under stress, such as unemployment, which can contribute to parental figures having arguments over simple things. Most importantly though, the book offers hope that a child may have the power to enact change in the family dynamic. Written by 3 high-school age teens, I got the sense that at least one of the authors has witnessed the positive impact he/she has had in their own family relationships when he/she encouraged the family to do more things together as a family group.

--Bookfan, amazon reviewer

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The Gloomy Light

When Ernie the Llama was abducted by green, slimy aliens, his best friend, Sal the frog, set out on a “ribbiting” journey to rescue his companion. Risking his life, Sal wouldn’t rest until he got Ernie home to his frightened family.

This story teaches children about friendship, one of the most important things in their lives. In this book, they will discover how true friends will always be there for you in your happiest and darkest times. Kids will also learn the life lesson of how, if you want something a lot, you can get it if you try hard enough. Sal’s quest around the world proves to kids that anything is possible.

The Gloomy Light is a fun and exciting thriller that all kids should have on their bookshelves. Reading this wild and crazy adventure was a pleasure. I highly recommend it to anyone who believes in true friends that will do anything for you, even through thick and thin.

--Dallas, amazon reviewer

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Trio + One

Jordan Campbell, Rico McCard and Brandon Smith left me thinking deeply about two common struggles in middle school--identity and friendship. The voice and storyline drew me into the book and I found myself connecting to each of the characters as the story unfolded. This is an impressive first book for these authors and a book that I will have readily available for students at my school, where I am principal. I know my students will find the story enjoyable, and I expect the message of the story will remain with them. Buy this book!

--Heidi L Cook, amazon reviewer

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Trio + One

Trio + One is a great story about a middle schooler, Bobby, who is jealous of three popular best friends at school. Bobby feels like they get all the attention and exclude him, so he decides to split up the group with a schoolwide “Coolest Kid Contest” featuring the 3 kids. They soon turn on each other, coming to Bobby for friendship. However, once they realize his scheme, they ask him why he did this to them and tell him how he was never really excluded from the group. Bobby came to know that sometimes it was he who kept away from the other boys.

This book teaches kids how it feels to be excluded and how they should prevent anyone from feeling that way. In addition, kids will learn not to jump to conclusions. I highly recommend this book for anyone. It can be understood on different levels, but it would be best for kids 7 and up. I hope you enjoy this book. Its magnificent story line, along with all of the lessons that can be learned from it, is definitely worth your time reading. Enjoy!

--Dallas, amazon reviewer

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Trio + One

This story conveys so well the feelings of jealousy we are so capable of having when we envy other groups of friends. I was particularly struck by the authors insight when they have the main character, Big Bobby, wonder if it was the 3 friends that stopped hanging out with him or whether it was Bobby that stopped hanging out with them. Loved the illustrations as well! Looking forward to reading the other 3 books published by Reach, Inc.

--Bookfan, amazon reviewer

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The Untold Story of the Real Me

I found compelling a number of the poems and essays.

El Camino (The Road) by Luis is a bilingual poem about the difficult and unforgiving road that they are on.

My Face by Derrick is a poem about the external person and the secrets on the inner one.

In the essay, The Color of My Skin, by Sergio, provides the reader an empathic insight of his view into the world. 

--Jack, goodreads reviewer

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The Airplane Effect

The Airplane Affect is an emotional book written by Marc, Sasha, Angela, and Sean, all young upcoming authors. It is an inspiring book about a young boy who is fighting leukemia in a drab hospital. He misses the outside world and just being a kid. Vincent writes his problems down on a piece of paper which he throws through the window as a paper airplane. A girl finds the plane and is inspired to help him. This book made us think about people who don't have it all and how we should be thankful that we are not stuck in a dull hospital. The book was very well written. Reach Inc. is a remarkable organization that is moving kids to write these books that inspire others. The storyline grasps both people that have experienced a severe illness and others who have not. This was an amazing book worth reading no matter what age you are. 

--Dallas, amazon reviewer

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