Francis Meredith is clever, funny, interesting, and creative, but he is too worried about the judgment of others to recognize his gifts.  Because he is chided at school for his interest in fashion, design, and sewing, he thinks it is impossible to be happy being himself. So, when he encounters Jessica Fry, he believes he has enough problems without adding an ability to see and hear dead people. Jessica, a ghost who can think herself into a wardrobe, becomes Francis’ friend in what he sees as an otherwise friendless world.  They have an interest in clothes in common and both can talk about synthetic fabricsRead More →

Readers of The Diary of a Wimpy Kid will likely enjoy The Boy Problem: Notes and Predictions of Tabitha Reddy by Kami Kinard. While it doesn’t have the plethora of pictures, it has relevance and ‘tween appeal in its plot.   Tabitha Reddy, who believes in signs and clues, thinks it’s possible to predict the future and that wishing on a star increases the likelihood of that wish’s coming true.  Her BFF, Kara McAllister disagrees, saying: “Nothing helps your wishes come true unless YOU do something yourself” (11).  She encourages Tabitha, who is in search of a boyfriend, to be proactive. The social scenes and peerRead More →

Nina finds herself at one of the many crossroads of life: that weird time between middle and high school, where we all begin to experiment with who we are, and what we want to be.  The thing is though; Nina doesn’t feel as though she is really changing.  She is the quiet observer to the chaos around her. What began as a way to honor her grandmother’s memory becomes Nina’s summer project.   She decides that she will do something nice for someone – one thing for each of the 65 days of summer.  In better observing her neighbors, in order to discover what she mightRead More →

As if middle school is not frightening enough, Bethany Darling has just upped the rigor for her younger sister Jessica. Jessica Darling is about to start the seventh grade. Jessica thought she had a handle on it… until her older sister reveals to her “The Guaranteed Guide to Popularity, Prettiness & Perfection.” Bethany has paved the road for Jessica to succeed in middle school; Bethany herself has been declared the most popular, pretty, and perfect girl. Jessica has it easy then, right? Wrong!  As Jessica begins reading her Guaranteed Guide to Popularity, Prettiness & Perfection, she realizes that the guide is a lot more detailedRead More →

Readers of historical, regional fiction—like Faith, Hope, and Ivy June by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor, Child of the Mountains by Marilyn Sue Shank, and A Year Down Yonder by Richard Peck—are liable to enjoy True Colors by Natalie Kinsey-Warnock. Rich with childhood pleasures like popsicles, swimming holes, and cotton candy but also replete with childhood fears like divorce, abandonment, and acceptance, Kinsey-Warnock’s book features Blue Sky, a ten year old girl living on a dairy farm near Shadow Lake, Vermont in 1952.  Blue, who at two days old was “found stuffed into the copper kettle Hannah Spooner grew her marigolds in” (1), longs to learn herRead More →