In his newest book The Other Better Me, Antony John writes about fifth grader Lola Harmon and the emptiness she feels by not having her dad in her life.  As this inquisitive and energetic people-person navigates life with her classmates at Shoreline Elementary school in North Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, she learns some important lessons about identity and about bullying behavior and bullies. Lola’s best friends are Nick Merlo and Kiana Richards.  Both live more affluent lives than Lola, who resides in a mobile home with her single mother who battles a thyroid condition.  Lola describes Nick as igneous rock since he resembles cooled lava. Read More →

Although we humans all have insecurities and need training in loving ourselves in our own skin, these conditions are perhaps especially pronounced during our adolescent years when we walk school hallways, subjecting ourselves to snickering peers, poisoned looks, and whispered comments.  This is the conflict tackled by Donna Cooner in her novel Fake. Attending Fort Collins High School in Colorado, Maisie Fernandez is a mixed race girl whose father is a Filipino Californian and whose mother is a white Texan.  Branded as one of the Froot Loops, Maisie learns that it isn’t easy being sixteen and fat.  Despite her artistic, humorous, and intelligent characteristics, sheRead More →

A name might be just a word, but it elicits feelings, memories, meanings, and histories associated with it.  When we feel like we need to live up to our names or live down a reputation that a name may convey, names potentially define or limit who and what we become.  Names can also affect our self-perceptions.  Most of us have likely pondered the idea of our given names and whether we would have chosen something different. In his first picture book, Thunder Boy Jr., Sherman Alexie features Thunder Boy, who explores the meaning of his name.  Initially, he celebrates its power and its uniqueness.  When heRead More →