The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian is Sherman Alexie’s first novel for young adults.  It’s based in part on his own experiences growing up poor on the Spokane Indian Reservation.  It tells the story of Junior (known as Arnold to the white people in the world he inhabits on a part-time basis), an Indian teenager coming into adulthood.  When he decides to leave the run-down, dead-end reservation school to attend a rich, white farm town school, his mom tells him “you’ll be the first one to ever leave the rez this way.  The Indians around here are going to be angry with you.”Read More →

Elijah of Buxton by Christopher Paul Curtis tells the story of Elijah Freeman, the first freeborn child born in the colony of Buxton, Canada, a settlement of runaway slaves just over the border from Detroit.  The year is 1860 and when a conman steals the money of a family friend that was intended to buy the man’s family from slavery in the South, Elijah embarks on a dangerous journey to America in pursuit of the thief and he discovers the unimaginable horrors of the life his parents fled. As readers have come to expect from Curtis, he delivers superior historical research (the author’s notes at the endRead More →

Eclipse, Stephenie Meyer’s much-anticipated follow up to her highly successful novels Twilight and New Moon, continues the saga rich with vampires, werewolves, and Bella Swan, the girl who loves them both. Picking up right where New Moon left off, Eclipse is filled with danger, intrigue, fighting and plenty of suspense. While the plot is riveting and the book is a page-turner that is almost impossible to set down, Eclipse differs from the first two books in the amount of background and character development Meyer provides. Not only does Meyer delve more deeply into the mythology of the werewolves and vampires, she also picks out individualRead More →

In the Name of God by Paula Jolin is a moving and eye-opening depiction of the struggle to find one’s self and what one believes in. Nadia, the narrator of Jolin’s tale, is a seventeen-year-old girl in modern Damascus who is trying to figure out how to be the best Muslim she can be. Her quest is interrupted when her cousin Fowzi is arrested for speaking out against the government. As she watches her family and their varying degrees of faith deal with her cousin’s arrest, Nadia must figure out what she believes. Jolin’s compelling book provides a far-reaching look into a complex and controversialRead More →

The book I’m reading right now is Little Heathens: Hard Times and High Spirits on an Iowa Farm During the Great Depression by Mildred Armstrong Kalish. It is an unpretentious and deeply intelligent memoir that radiates joy as Kalish recalls a vanished way of life.  Kalish does an excellent job of recapturing the innocence and perceptions of childhood while tempering her recollections with the perspective of maturity.  It recalls for me both my love and fascination with the Little House books I read as a girl and the rich and non-nonsense stories my grandparents have told of their farm life in rural South Dakota. For thoseRead More →

Phoenix Book Company will be using this Blog to:  Provide a forum for our contributors (librarians, teachers & students) to post book reviews; Share ideas on using books in the classroom & library; Exchange suggestions and best practices for getting students excited about reading; Communicate the latest and greatest information about children’s & young adult literature; and Share what’s going on at Phoenix Book Company, the largest collection of new, discounted children’s and young adult books in the Southwest.  Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments section.  If you’d like to be a contributor to the Blog and post your own reviews, curriculum ideas, Read More →