CYBILS Finalist: Shadow Shaper by Daniel Jose Older
This lovely title was my personal favorite but sadly didn’t win the Cybils award. Don’t despair Daniel Jose Older, cuz it made it to the final round and that’s VERY impressive!
There is so much to love about Shadowshaper, and prolly DJO (Daniel, call me, you can be my new boo) so I’ll dive in. Excellent diversity: black and latino characters, in and around Bed Stuy NYC. Smart characters, witty, personable, LGBT representation, hipsters, etc. fairly a-typical depiction of Hispanic teens. The kids in this story are smart and funny and their very quick one liners kept me in stitches. They SLAY!
The Shadowshaper bit was an interesting twist. Some people can see these supernatural ghost type creatures and make them bend to their will, in a good way. So there’s some kind of revolution going on in this ghost world and it manifests in the artwork around the neighborhood. Our heroine is an artist and I think most of her friends are artsy in some sort of way? And so when the art starts crying and disappearing (I know right?) the kids need to figure out what’s going on.
There are dark family secrets and dying grandfathers with coded messages and danger. Lots of weird supernatural danger.
It’s all good.
Even though this title didn’t win the Cybils Award it’s still a great read for kids who want to see more people of color. Given that the protagonists are African American and Latino American this title will also count toward the Diversity Reading Challenge for its diversity!