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Serena Says (Hardcover)

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Winter 2020 Kids Indie Next List

“I loved watching Serena as she worked toward becoming a YouTuber. She is so brave and put so much effort into making friends even though she’s shy. A great read for everyone who is a little nervous to put themselves out there and try something new.”
— Haley Butler, Liberty Bay Books, Poulsbo, WA


Award-winning author Tanita S. Davis delivers a heartwarming and humorous middle grade tale about a young Black girl who finds her own voice through vlogging and learns to speak out. Perfect for fans for Sharon M. Draper and Lisa Greenwald.

JC shines like a 4th of July sparkler. She has the best ideas, the biggest, funniest laugh, and the party starts when she arrives. Serena St. John is proud to be known as her best friend.

Everything changes when JC returns from the hospital with a new kidney—and a new best friend. Out of the spotlight of JC’s friendship, suddenly things aren’t quite so sparkly in Serena’s world.

Lonely Serena works on perfecting her vlogs, hoping to earn a shot at becoming a classroom reporter. If she can be smart and funny on video, why can’t she manage that in real life? If only she could always pause, edit, or delete conversations. It would be so much easier to say the right thing at the right time . . . instead of not saying what she should, or, even worse, blurting out a secret that wasn’t hers to share.

Life doesn’t have a pause button—but as Serena discovers her voice through vlogging, she learns that she’s not just there to reflect JC’s light—she’s fully capable of shining on her own.

About the Author

Tanita S. Davis is the award-winning author of six novels for middle grade and young adult readers, including Serena Says, Peas and Carrots, Happy Families, and Mare’s War, which was a Coretta Scott King Award Honor book and earned her a nomination for the NAACP Image Award. She grew up in California and was so chatty as a kid that her mother begged her to “just write it down.” Now she’s back in California, doing her best to keep writing it all down.

Praise For…

"Middle school energy forms a bustling backdrop for this clever story of navigating changing relationships and developing a sense of personal identity. Secondary characters and storylines provide humor and pathos while at the center is spirited, smart Serena, someone readers will appreciate and cheer. A delightful multicultural narrative that spotlights friendship and self-awareness."  
Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

"Serena is a smart, intuitive Black girl with relatable fears and insecurities; as the book progresses, she decides she’s ready to step into the spotlight all on her own. Davis capably touches on matters of chronic illness, mental health, and friendship growing pains in this quiet but impactful slice-of-life novel." — Publishers Weekly

"Throughout the story, Serena develops an earnest and sincere voice the world needs to hear. The dialogue is well paced. Davis intersperses day-to-day occurrences with heavier topics such as physical and mental illness and cultural representation [along with a]n appealing cast of family, friends, and classmates." — Horn Book Magazine

"[Serena] learns to communicate her feelings, and respect her friends’ boundaries. The book also aptly depicts mental health and the importance of privacy. A diverse and lively cast of characters helps propel the story forward. While Serena is in middle school, the prose reads at a younger level and would appeal to elementary-age children. VERDICT . . .  young readers will find in Serena an energetic friend working through the challenges of growing up." — School Library Journal

Product Details
ISBN: 9780062936974
ISBN-10: 0062936972
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books
Publication Date: November 3rd, 2020
Pages: 272
Language: English