The Revolution of Evelyn Serrano by Sonia Manzano

Sonia Manzano’s initial claim to fame was her starring role on “Sesame Street” as Maria. Two picture books later, Manzano has written her first novel inspired by events in her own life. Loosely following what transpired in 1969 when a Puerto Rican activist group called the Young Lords attempted to take over a church in order to […]

Three YA Anthologies Featuring Stories About Bullying and More

Featuring stories written by more than 35 of the biggest and best names in YA fiction, these three themed anthologies are an invaluable resource for the classroom and home library. While one collection focuses mainly on the effects of bullying on today’s teens, and another contains meditations on fate and the unknown, the third presents […]

Rebecca Rupp’s After Eli – A Novel About Death and Moving Forward

Oh, brother. Literally. It always amazes me when an author writes about a sensitive subject with aplomb—and in a way that kids can easily grasp, no less. Not by being overly dramatic. Not by tiptoeing around the issue. But by simply telling it like it is, how it actually happens. Rebecca Rupp (The Dragon of Lonely Island; Sarah […]

Pre-Pub Alert: Newbery Medal Winner Rebecca Stead’s New Book!

You devoured First Light. You jumped for joy when When You Reach Me won the Newbery. If both A and B are true, you’re bound to adore Liar & Spy. Why? Because Rebecca Stead knows how to pen a sweet-ish yarn with just the right mixture of middle-school angst, smarts, and yearning without all the heavy baggage found in titles geared toward […]

Seraphina – Rachel Hartman’s Killer Fantasy Debut

The ARC of Seraphina has been on my shelf for a while. Truthfully, I wasn’t planning to read it. Why? I’m not a big fan of fantasy (I know. Pshaw!). I’m more of a realistic fiction girl. But when the starred reviews started piling up and the praise poured in, I thought, “Why not see what the […]

On the Day I Died: Ghost Stories Perfect for Reading (and Telling) Around the Campfire!

In the Author’s Note following On the Day I Died: Stories from the Grave, Candace Fleming (Amelia Lost; The Fabled Fifth Graders of Aesop Elementary School; Lowji Discovers America  ) remembers fondly the times her mother would freak out Candace and her sister by telling them ghost stories before bedtime about people they knew or superstitions and legends they […]

Pirates of the Caribbean Meets The Time Machine in Sally Copus’s BlackHeart’s Legacy

Self-published novels can be a bit of a drag. If you’ll permit me to generalize (and possibly invoke the wrath of self-publishing authors everywhere), a large majority of those I’ve read have been frankly atrocious. Terrible grammar. Zero plot arcs or, worse, piled-on predictable plot twists. Clichéd characters lying woefully flat on the page. Sure, […]

The Year of the Book by Andrea Cheng

Every once in a while, I come across a book that I can’t wait to recommend. It doesn’t have any bells and whistles. The plot doesn’t involve some grandiose theme or solve a devastating problem. It’s just a simple story with the potential to touch a wide variety of readers for different reasons. The Year […]

Lynda Mullaly Hunt’s Debut Novel Discusses Foster Care

As you can probably tell by now, I’m a big fan of middle-grade and YA novels that deal with social issues, emotional conflicts, sticky situations. When done right, these books tell an engaging story while presenting possible solutions to actual real-world problems. For better or for worse, reading this type of material helps kids feel […]

A Debut Middle-Grade Novel Tackles LGBT Issues Head On

When you’re prepubescent, sexuality can be confusing. If you’re not exposed to the topic early on (or if it isn’t discussed openly—or at all—at home), a lot of questions can arise. At school, Health class usually (well, hopefully) covers the bases as far as biology is concerned, but what about the feelings and emotions associated […]