What if hex lessons could empower a bully’s victim to enact revenge?  What if we could send out psychic energy as an agent of change?  These are questions Mariah Fredericks explores in her book Season of the Witch.  The novel features Antonia Thurman, a sixteen year old junior who wants to be elegant, fiercely smart, and strong but still funny and nice.  Instead, she is the target of bully Chloe Nachmias, a petite and perfect, every-part-ideal beauty who causes others to feel clumsy and insignificant.  Chloe and her minions, Zeena and Isabelle, make Slam the Slut everyone’s favorite game, with Toni the target since sheRead More →

Getting out from under the intense weight on my chest after reading Matthew Quick‘s Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock has taken some time.  I felt pulled down into a deep, dark hole, all alone with only my thoughts about the futility of life, the lack of care or concern for myself or others, and a resigned sense of defeat in the face of an untenable future.  The slope down into Leonard’s depression is slippery and quick and getting back out isn’t easy work.  Which is the long way of saying that in Leonard Peacock Quick has expertly captured and painfully portrayed depression, anger, and isolation atRead More →

“A long time ago in  galaxy far, far away… there was a boy named Roman Novachez … who was destined to attend Pilot Academy Middle School and become the GREATEST Star pilot in the GALAXY. Until everything went TOTALLY and COMPLETELY WRONG…” (1)  And so begins a funny trip across the galaxy from Tatooine to Corsucant with a kid who feels  unprepared for the adventure that is middle school. Roman has been looking forward to following in his big brother’s footsteps and attending the galaxy’s renowned Pilot Academy Middle School where he can train to be a star fighter pilot.  But instead of being acceptedRead More →

How do you become a man when you don’t have a man in your life?  What does it mean if your father left you and your mom?  Or worse, was never in your life to begin with?  In Dead Ends, the second book by Arizona author Erin Jade Lange,  the question of fathers and the legacies they leave to their children unites unlikely friends on a journey of discovery, healing, and transformation. In his high school, there are the “haves” and the “have-nots”, and Dane Washington is a “have not”.  What Dane does have, however, is a fierce temper and the power to back itRead More →

Being the outsider looking in is painful.  From run-of-the-mill social awkwardness, to being the new kid in school, to being from a culture/background that is misunderstood and feared, the outsider is the lonely one among us.  Funny thing is, at any given point in time, everyone is the outsider yearning for acceptance, friendship, and understanding. Seventh grader Lewis Blake has had it with being an outsider.  But his quest to fit in to his mostly white middle school is an uphill battle:  being an Indian, he will have to do more than just cut off his braid and cut back on his sarcasm to breakRead More →

For readers who appreciate the diverse and non-linear approach offered by multi-genre books like Nothing But the Truth by Avi and Tears of a Tiger by Sharon Draper, Trash Can Days: A Middle School Saga by Teddy Steinkellner shouldn’t disappoint.  Told through Facebook entries, letters, school announcements, memos, AIMs, lists, blog posts, and typical prose, the story puts readers in the hallways and the social circles of middle school drama.  In the midst of the commotion caused by gossip, the cruelty used to get respect, and the floundering that occurs on the journey to maturity, readers live or relive the days when crustacial hair andRead More →

At first, Mark Goldblatt’s Twerp brought to mind a couple other books – Scrawl, a bully’s detention-assigned journal about his life and Ungifted, Gordon Korman’s hilarious story about a likeable kid whose bad judgment gets him in to trouble again and again.  But it didn’t take long to get completely lost in this well-written, engaging story about a 12 year old kid, his friends, and a terrible thing they did. Julian Twerski isn’t a bully.  He  didn’t mean for Danley to get hurt and he doesn’t think that what happened over winter recess is one hundred percent his fault, although he doesn’t deny that he hadRead More →