As a former-full-time bookseller and now part-time bookseller, I do not have that one book, author or genre to get a person reading. I have a book/author/genre to fit the person I am speaking with. However, within some genres I do have a go-to author or in one case, publisher.
Two areas that many are not familiar with are poetry and graphic novels. Or more accurately in the case of school-aged students they do not want to be familiar with poetry and adults do not want their child into graphic novels.
Now, Poetry is the “groan subject” of students. They have told me it is dull; rhymes are a drag and it is just stupid. Far from it, I tell you! Oh, sure some can rhyme like beast feast by Douglas Florian (or any of his books). I picked this one as it was new to me, but the author is a go-to author for the picture book crowd. Or any age really. Florian takes each poem and makes a fun poem-story about critters. Florain’s style comes alive on each page with the poem and accompanying illustration. The art is goofy, surreal and odd. But they fit the offbeat feel of Florian’s work. He has tackled subjects like insects and other things kids get into with his other collections. They are fun to read aloud or to yourself. Each one is short, so you can see that reading poetry is not a chore one must “get through” but can actually have fun.
Then there is my older reader recommend. Naomi Shihab Nye is for the 10 to 14 age range. Or even adult. However, not everything is for all ages. A new one that I think that 10 to adult would enjoy is Everything Comes Next: Collected and New Poems. This is classic Naomi Shihab Nye poetry. If you love her classically modern works, you will love this. But if you are new to her work, you still will find something to love. Nothing is too small or two large to tackle as a poem. Some of her poems are short and sweet and packed with a lot of meaning. Some are written in a format people might not think of when they think of the “right way” to write a poem. Nye puts her love of children, childhood, life, her family, her heritage and so much more into each poem. And the nice thing about Nye is she is not some “old white dude.” First, she is female, but second, she is of Palestinian ancestry. She speaks of her homelands (the old and the states) with love and respect. She is not “radical,” but you know her feelings on how she views the political unrest in her father’s country of birth. And you see the love of her history through the eyes of her father. You see her love of child, writing and so much more. The only drawback is this book is not out until September 2020.
Now, onto the graphic novel. No parents/grandparents/teachers/other adults buying books for your child, a graphic novel is not “easy” or a “comic book.” It is a book that happens to have pictures to move things along. And the First Second publishers hit those stories on the head. No matter what you pick up you will find something that will amaze and delight. The great thing (but one you need to watch for) is that they do books from beginning readers to very Young Adult. But one that fits the 10 to 14 range (and could go younger for the stronger reader) is One Year at Ellsmere by Faith Erin Hicks.
One Year at Ellsmere is a graphic novel that shows a story of if Harry Potter and Ron Weasley were two girls in a prestigious girl school without the magic. While there is not a lot of traditional action, the main characters Juniper (Jun) and Cassie deal with one nasty bully, Emily (and her “Crabbe and Goyle” sidekicks both reminding me a tiny bit of Mai from Avatar, the Last Airbender). There is the action of seeing tests, sabotage and “getting under the others skin.” It is a “closed (the story arc is completed) but also open (see the questions asked later) ending.” This makes me think this will be a series (that and it does say One Year, so perhaps this alludes to Second Year). One reason I personally think/need a book two is because there are a few questions that need answers. Like is that sound in the forest really a moose and why does Hicks include the story of the sons of the founders of the school? The art will complement the story by not being overly brightly colored or too crowded with details to take away from the text. However, if I had not known this was a Hicks book, I almost would not have recognized their style of illustrations.
I could go on with other “go to” books (adult poetry I go to Button Poetry and adults, well First Second is a go-to, too, so we are good there) but this is already creeping towards 900 words and I would like you to not have to take a nap to read the rest of a review!