Aspiring to be a female version of Walter Cronkite, thirteen-year-old Teresa (Tree) Taylor wants the freshman reporter position on the newspaper staff at Hamilton High School, despite her nemesis Wanda vying  for that same role with the “Blue and Gold.”  Her second goal for the summer is to kiss a boy, preferably Ray “with the eyes like two pieces of sky” (3), to collect a kiss worth writing about. Besides those two ambitions to move the plot forward, The Secrets of Tree Taylor by Dandi Daley Mackal, set in Hamilton, Missouri, in 1963, features a collection of quotations from famous writers and alludes to HarperRead More →

 Fourteen-year-old Vance Ehecatl is a shape-shifter, who spends part of his existence as a quetzal and part of his life as a human in Midnight—the vampire’s empire, a pinnacle of civilization.  When Amelia Atwater-Rhodes’ novel Bloodwitch opens, Vance is living with Lady Brina in a greenhouse, a lush and comfortable existence.   Lady Brina is a talented artist with a penchant for painting mythological scenes; her paintings tell stories and capture cultures, like those of the ancient Mayan and Aztec civilizations.  In his quetzal form, Vance models for Lady Brina, ignorant of any alternative life until Malachi Obsidian visits, under the guise of selling paints.  WhenRead More →

Imagine that every time you closed your eyes—whether to blink or to sleep—you entered another world.  Such is the reality for Nolan’s life.  Nolan, who lives in Farview, Arizona, gets to watch and smell and feel what happens to Amara, who lives in the Dunelands.  Since his earliest memories, Nolan has experienced life from two bodies, but knowing it isn’t his body or his pain doesn’t make it hurt any less.  Distracted by the happenings in Amara’s world when he was seven years old and out riding his bike, Nolan now wears a prosthetic foot because both his left foot and his bike were crushedRead More →

Laden with pain that she sometimes forgets to hide, pain from the loss of a brother on the day she was born, twelve-year-old Jewel Campbell wonders where joy goes when it leaves a family.  A Jamaican/White/Mexican mixed race girl living in Caledonia, Iowa, Jewel feels like a misfit.  In Caledonia, where folks think “that Jamaica is some country in Africa” (62), mixing doesn’t happen—except in Jewel’s family.  Outside of Caledonia, people ask Jewel what she is, a question that makes Jewel bristle: “Shouldn’t they ask who I am?  Why am I a what?” (62).   Jewel wonders what it would be like to have two parentsRead More →