Pathfinder: When I Was the Greatest by Jason Reynolds

If you liked WHEN I WAS THE GREATEST by Jason Reynolds check out …

…more authentic and gritty portrayals of growing up in NYC.


Grant, Christopher. TEENIE.  New York: Alfred A. Knopf 2010.

Fourteen-year-old Martine, known as “Teenie,” is growing up in Brooklyn with strict Caribbean islander parents, (Dad is from Barbados & Mom from Grenada). She is struggling with her grades, her friends, relationships with guys and bullies.   This realistic and suspenseful read will keep you guessing. Call #: FIC GRANT




Older, Daniel Jose. SHADOWSHAPER. New York: Arthur A. Levine Books 2015.

 Something strange is going on… when the street murals in Sierra’s Brooklyn neighborhood start to morph and change she learns that she and her family have special powers.  This is Urban Fantasy but the spirit of Brooklyn in the summer, the neighborhoods, the street names, and the people who live their are realistic.  Call #: FIC OLDER




screen-shot-2016-12-10-at-11-43-19-pmBROOKLYN CASTLE (DVD) United States : Millennium Entertainment, 2013.  

This documentary follows the amazingly talented chess team at IS.318 in Williamsburg, Brooklyn.  Their team is on a winning streak but these kids are also facing burdens like parents and poverty, demanding teachers, uncertain futures and budget cuts.   Call #: DVD 794.10922 B


Booth, Coe. TYRELL. New York, NY: PUSH 2006.

  Like WHEN I WAS THE GREATEST, this fast paced novel is also about an African-American teen growing up in Brooklyn. When his father is sent to jail, the family is forced to move into a shelter in the Bronx.  Tyrell is surrounded by challenges and does what he has to to help his family.  Call #: FIC BOOTH




Myers, Walter Dean. AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF MY DEAD BROTHER. New York, NY: Harper Tempest Amistad 2005.  15 year old Jesse and his friends C.J. and Rise are attending a funeral of one of their own from their Harlem neighborhood who was recently gunned down in a drive-by shooting.  They each cope in their own way.  It’s a powerful and  in-your-face tale of growing up, and getting by in the inner-city.  Call #: FIC MYERS




Screen Shot 2016-12-11 at 5.09.50 PM.pngWoodson, J.  AFTER TUPAC & D FOSTER.  New York, NY : G.P. Putnam’s Son, 2008.  The unnamed narrator and Neeka are best friends growing up in a tight-knit community in Queens when they befriend D, who is living in foster care.  The story takes place between the time the rapper Tupac Shakur was shot and lived in 1994, and then was shot and died in 1996.  His music and lyrics play a big role in this quiet and powerful novel.  Call #: FIC WOODSON




…believable, good-hearted guys who don’t always make the bests choices.  


Sims, Guy A. MONSTER: A Graphic Novel. New York, NY : Amistad, an imprint of Harpercollins Publishers, 2015.  

This adapted graphic novel is the retelling of Monster originally written by  Walter Dean Myers in 1999 is realistic and thought provoking.   Steve Harmon is a teenager from Harlem who finds himself on trial for felony murder.  If convicted he could serve 25 years to life.   As he is sits in the courtroom and in his cell he turns his experience into a screenplay.   Call #: FIC SIMS



Screen Shot 2016-12-11 at 4.43.59 PM.pngAlonge, L.J.  JUSTIN: Blacktop series, 1. New York, NY : Grosset & Dunlap, 2016.

Justin is in eighth grade in gritty Oakland California.  He’s kind of nerdy, loves video games, comics and old books.  He is trying to figure his life out and fit in with the other kids.   Like all good sports stories, it’s about much more than basketball.   Call #: FIC ALONGE





…more from Jason Reynolds.

screen-shot-2016-12-10-at-11-44-02-pmReynolds, Jason. AS BRAVE AS YOU. New York: Atheneum Books for Young Readers, 2016.   11-year-old African American Genie Harris and his brother Ernie are born and raised city kids from Brooklyn.  When they spend the summer with their grandparents in rural Virginia, it is not what they expect. Reynolds writing is smart, rich and funny prose.  Call #: J FIC REYNOLDS





… more guys who knit.

screen-shot-2016-12-10-at-11-44-18-pmEaston, T.S. BOYS DON’T KNIT.  New York, NY : Feinwel & Friends, 2015.

Ben gets busted for a crime he wanted no part in.  Formatted like a diary, which he required to write, as part of his probation. Ben also must choose a community college class and gets stuck with — knitting.  Call #: FIC EASTON






Black, H. (2015).  Shadowshaper, by Daniel José Older.  New York Times.  Retrieved from

Boys don’t knit by T.S. Easton review. (2014). The Guardian. Retrieved from

Broadnax, J. (2016). Blacktop: New young adult book series. Black Girl Nerds. Retrieved from

Burling, A. (2005). Autobiography of my dead brother. Teen Reads. Retrieved from

Dargis, M. (2012). The game is all-consuming, at least until the outside world intrudes.   

New York Times. Retrieved from

Book trends. (2011).  Book review: Teenie by Christopher Grant. Retrieved from

Kirkkus.  (2015).  Monster a graphic novel. Kirkus. Retrieved from

Kirkus. (2006).  Tyrell. Kirkus. Retrieved from

Kirkus. (2013). When I was the greatest. Kirkus. Retrieved from

Smith, D.  (2008). Something wild.  New York Times. Retrieved from

Toth, L. (2016). As brave as you by Jason Reynolds. School Library Journal. Retrieved from


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