Lucille “Lucy” Peevey dreams of leaving Sunnyside Trailer Park and becoming a famous scientist. She lives with her mother, Margaret, and her younger sister Izzy. Lucy’s biggest supporter, her grandmother, recently passed away. Before Gram passed, Lucy promised her that she would participate and win the annual BotBlock competition. The BotBlock competition requires applicants to create and program their own robots to complete various challenges. Lucy and her best friend Cam have created their step by step plan to succeed in their goal and win the competition with their own robot, PingPing200. Easy enough right? Wrong. First, Lucy is struggling to survive seventh grade. There is aRead More →

“Maybe time, as they say, is just a human invention. Maybe I never really left because leaving wasn’t possible. Maybe we’re all on a string, and maybe our past selves are on that string and our future selves are too… Maybe we all just exist, all versions of us just exist at all times, and we just have to figure out a way to get to each of them, to find each one and tell that version that it’s okay, that it’s all just the way it works, just a concept too powerful to ignore but too complicated to explain” (200)  Noggin, the latest fromRead More →

While Matt Hunter seems like a typical middle school student, his world is anything but normal. Matt’s town, Edenvale,  is now acquainted with a new kind of species…zombies! There are also a team of police officers to regulate the zombies, known as The Zombie Squad. Their job is to protect the living members of Edenvale and ensure the zombies stay in their walled off community. Citizens of Edenvale are also responsible for registering themselves and all pets with the Zombie Squad to protect other citizens in the event of a death. To not register yourself or animals is against the law. Matt isn’t concerned about theRead More →

Last year when Emma was 14 she lost her sight in a terrible accident.  Now, she’s about to return to her sighted high school as a sophomore, having missed her entire freshman year, and she’s no further along in accepting her new life than she was during her “lost year”.  Despite having spent time at a school for the blind and making progress in “life skills”, Emma is still confused, angry, resentful, and despondent.  Returning to “normal” high school seems like it will be a good step towards regaining the life that was stolen from her, but Emma’s feelings of shame, fear, and angst areRead More →

Another Day as Emily – Eileen Spinelli Have you ever been so tired of life that you decided to change who you were? Eleven-year-old Suzy has.  After her brother becomes a “Little Hero” around town, and her best friend gets wrapped up in her acting pursuits, Suzy is all but forgotten.  She determines to live her life in a new way – Emily Dickinson’s way. Amidst white dresses, letters, baking, and cleaning Suzy learns who she really is in Spinelli’s new novel. Written in verse, it is a very easy, quick read, but one that teaches as it goes. Historical facts and figures abound, engagingRead More →

I’ve waxed on before about how much I love it when a book transports me into a life I’ll never have the chance to live – into a culture, or a time, or a circumstance – because isn’t that the whole point of reading books?  And in a way, that’s the point of all art – whether its a book, a painting, music, theatre – they’re all expressions of the human experience that we share with others to connect us and celebrate the variety and similarity of our time here on Earth.  Last night I started, and was so transported byPadma Venkatraman‘s newest, A Time toRead More →

Reality TV is everywhere; one can hardly think of an aspect of modern American life that hasn’t been manipulated, exposed, and hyped up by “reality” TV.  So it’s no surprise that the casualties of this epidemic are starting to find their way into other media, including books for teens and kids.  Last year I loved A.S. King’s Reality Boy and on Sunday I fell head over heels with Absolutely Almost by Lisa Graff.  Earlier this spring I got lost in the halls of Minneapolis’ Selwyn Academy, a fine arts high school that is at the center of For Art’s Sake – Fame, but for Real.  KateRead More →

In her recent release, High and Dry, Sarah Skilton skillfully and accurately portrays the drama of high school.  Through protagonists Charlie Dixon and Ellie Chen, along with a cast of other characters in Palm Valley, California, Skilton writes a sports story while realistically capturing the conflicts of adolescence.  After a traumatic experience in Little League when he was saved by his friend Ryder, Charlie has grown into a “soccer hottie” who loves the glorious lunacy and unpredictable bliss of the game.  Ryder, on the other hand, failed the drug test required to compete in high school sports, so despite his being “the best hitter, runner,Read More →

I’ve been thinking about vulnerability a lot lately.  Part of it is due to reading this; and what surprises me is once you start looking for authenticity and its root, vulnerability, you see it everywhere.  What you also see are the walls, suits of armor, and other shields our culture teaches a person to use to hide, protect, and deny this most human of all qualities.  Imagine how thrilled I was when, just a few pages into National Book Award Nominee Lisa Graff‘s forthcoming Absolutely Almost, I realized that I was holding a book deeply interwoven with vulnerability and authenticity.  And my excitement was not disappointed inRead More →