Sunday, June 23, 2019

A Few Recent Reads

The Truth As Told By Mason Buttle by Leslie Connor

It's so funny that I was looking up my review of Connor's previous book, All Rise for the Honorable Perry T. Cook, and realized I had the same issue with both of her books:


Why do authors do this? Cut 100 pages out and I could hand this to any of my students. But right now, I don't have anyone that I would make slog through the first half to get to the interesting ending. Even I skimmed to get to the action.


It's a good book, but I can't recommend it.


The Shadow Hero by Gene Luen Yang and Sonny Liew

I teach in Asia and I want my students to be reflected on my library shelves. I am so happy to have The Shadow Hero to share with all of them, to learn the history of a little-known comic book character, and to see a comic hero that looks more like them.

Plus, it's funny.

I hope this isn't a one-off and that it becomes a series.

Sunday, June 16, 2019


Moxie by Jennifer Mathieu

The 90s are back and I am excited. 

Author Jennifer Mathieu is, too, with this perfect love letter to both 90s and current female rebellion.

I was in high school in the early 90s and always in awe of zine culture and bands like Bikini Kill. I'm glad that this book is introducing these ideas to young people. 

The writing is great, the plot is empowering, and it reminds me of a fun older sister to Celia Perez's The First Rule of Punk. I hope everyone reads it.

Sunday, June 9, 2019

A Few Recent Reads

The Cardturner by Louis Sachar

To be fair, Sachar writes in the prologue that this is a book about playing bridge. And that he knows almost none of his readers care about bridge. Still, he loves the game.


At least Sachar gives summary boxes that allow you to skip the card game play-by-plays and read the human story. I definitely took advantage of that option.


I liked the characters and the plot, but there isn't a single person I can think of that I would recommend it to.


So I'm just going to celebrate me because this was the third book I ever added to my Goodreads "To Read" list and it's been six years that I've been waiting!


The Big Dark by Rodman Philbrick

We end our year with a dystopian unit, which is fun for most students. Unfortunately, most of our dystopian titles are very long, which can leave our developing readers feeling daunted.


I was excited to find The Big Dark, which features all the things that growing readers enjoy: cliffhangers to keep them going, action scenes, and short chapters.


The story is enjoyable, too. After a solar flare knocks out the electricity around the country, people need to do what it takes to survive. This felt realistic, as it is something that could happen.


What I didn't like was the ending, which felt too easy and like Philbrick ran out of time or ideas. It feels a bit insulting to readers after the investment in reading it.


Still, I will be sharing it with my readers who need a successful dystopian experience. But I will be asking them how they think it could end instead.

Sunday, June 2, 2019

Still a Work in Progress

Oh man, I love Jo Knowles. Her writing is just so inviting that it's like diving into a warm pool. I just want to hang out in her world. I asked my library to add Still a Work in Progress to the collection, as it's been on my To Read list since 2016 and I just knew it would be great. I was right. 

After many years of reading YA novels, I've seen my share of eating disorder books. But I've never come across a book from the perspective of a younger brother, who really can't relate to what his sister is experiencing, but is worried anyway. Totally unique conceit.

I thought that the family dynamics played out really well, but my favorite part of the book was the friendship between our protagonist, Noah, and his two best friends.

It was such an accurate portrayal of nice kids growing at different rates, loving each other deep down, but also getting frustrated and not knowing why. I see this constantly with my students, so it was great to have a book to share when I see someone struggling with it. 

It also nailed how often seventh graders talk about who is going out with whom.

I loved this book and am now going to request enough copies to use it for book clubs.

A Few Recent Reads

And Then There Were Four by Nancy Werlin

This is one of a list of books that I asked my school library to add to the collection. 
The writing?

Was the plot realistic?

Did I want to know what happened?

Jazz Owls by Margarita Engle

I'm glad the book exists, because I had never heard of the Zoot Suit Riots before.
Which should really be called the Sailor Riot
But that part of the book was so short that the book is mislabeled as being about the riot, when it's really just about the travails of a Mexican family in 1940s California.

Margarita Engle has become hit or miss for me. This one was mostly a miss, as I just couldn't get into it.