Fans of Francina Simone’s novel Smash It! will likely also enjoy Robin Talley’s The Love Curse of Melody McIntyre. Both are written with “theater kids” in mind and with the message that nothing is perfect. Talley’s protagonist is cue-calling master Melody McIntyre who has her sights set on Broadway.  Mel has worked her way into the position of Stage Manager at Beaconville High School (BHS) in Massachusetts. Renowned for its theater program, BHS productions have not only won statewide awards but many of the program’s alumni have gone on to careers in the performing arts, both as actors and in technical roles. Mel is aRead More →

Robert Lang (aka Bobby) lives in a green house in the junkyard at the dark end of a godless trail amidst trees so thick “the sun gets stuck in the branches” (9). Because the junk molders around him and because young people are often cruel, his peers nickname him Junk; his dad, Jimmy, calls him Slug. Bobby feels inadequate to meet the demands of the world in which he finds himself, one where his father is a drunk and lives with a limp, his mother abandons him a year after his birth, and he appears lost, empty, and friendless. At fifteen, Bobby is short, somewhatRead More →

Author of the Stonewall Book Award for Hurricane Child, Kacen Callender has written a new book, King and the Dragonflies targeted for readers in grades three through seven. Set in Richardson, Louisiana, King and the Dragonflies relates the challenge that twelve-year-old Kingston Reginald James has in coping with the sudden and unexpected death of his sixteen-year-old brother Khalid.  While enduring the waves of grief, King must also navigate a series of identity issues on his own since his parents are immersed in their own grief, and his older brother is no longer around to confide in. Shy and prone to reticence, King loves anime, enjoysRead More →

We humans are all broken, broken by life’s trials and tribulations, undone by love, fragmented by bullies who shoot holes in our confidence, or traumatized by loss—whether a consequence of death, divorce, or some other life-altering trauma.  These truths unfold  from the beginning line—“Life is bullshit”—of We Are the Ants by Shaun David Hutchinson, a novel that explores both the absurdity of and the grand scheme of the cosmos and of human existence. Ever since he was 13 years old, Henry Jerome Denton has been abducted by aliens, whom he calls sluggers.  The abductions always begin with shadows and end with his being deposited—often naked—far fromRead More →