As school librarians, we are all busy. There is never enough time to do it all, much less do it all well. One area that has demanded my attention lately is reading kids’ books. A school librarian must read books that might interest his or her students. It is a job requirement and one that I enjoy. Picture books? No problem! I can read one quickly and assess its worthiness. Novels? That is a concern.
I was recently added to the Virginia Reader’s Choice committee. I am on the elementary committee, and we are tasked with reading lots of novels and nonfiction books for grades 3-5 and then recommending titles to be included on the list. As I scanned my bookshelves for books that might be good, I found The Season of Styx Malone.
The Season of Styx Malone is a Coretta Scott King Honor winner for 2019, and it is easy to see why. Styx appears one summer to two brothers, Bobby Gene and Caleb. Their overprotective father forbids them to go out into the world past their small town in Indiana, but Styx manages to get them interested in his “escalator trades.” Styx explains this as trading up with people until you ultimately get what you want. Bobby Gene and Caleb are fascinated by this teenager and fully embrace Styx’s schemes.
As Elizabeth Bird writes in her blog column for School Library Journal, “By and large, reviewers, librarians, teachers, and other guardians place an inordinate amount of importance on deadly serious fiction over fiction with a penchant for fun. And ‘Styx Malone’ is, right from the get-go, incredibly fun. It’s fun when the boys trade their little sister for a bag of fireworks. It’s fun when they start engaging in a ‘Great Escalator Trade’ with an eye on a shiny green scooter. It’s even fun when they have to weed the garden. I’m not saying there isn’t a core of seriousness beneath the glee, but isn’t [it] a relief to enjoy what you’re reading once in a while?”
This book was full of joy. I cheered for this unlikely trio from the very first page. It is not without serious topics, but first and foremost, it is a fun story about three African-American boys that will leave you happy, thoughtful, and wanting more. Kekla Magoon has written a classic tale, with a nod to Maniac Magee by Jerry Spinelli, but while Maniac was largely a tall tale, Styx Malone is far more realistic with both its characters and its events.
I loved this book and can’t wait to recommend it to both kids and adults. It certainly kept me engaged and entertained.
If you read it, tell me what you think in the comments. Happy reading!
Author: Elizabeth Kyser
H!! I am the lucky librarian at Ettrick Elementary School, located in Chesterfield County, Virginia. I graduated with a degree in History from Allegheny College, received a Master of Education degree from Loyola University in Maryland, and my library certification classes were taken at Longwood University. I was a classroom teacher for fourteen years before I became a school librarian and I am so glad I was. Please feel free to find me on social media. I am energized by sharing ideas with colleagues from around the world!