When You Reach Me

Review written by Jonathan Lavallee. “The trip is a difficult one, I will not be myself when I reach you.” In When You Reach Me, Miranda is the daughter of a single mom who got an invitation to be on the $20,000 Dollar Pyramid. She’s dealing with the strain of helping her mom train, as […]

Flora & Ulysses

Flora and Ulysses: The Illuminated Adventures is the story of Flora, a girl who is a proud cynic and comic book fan, and a squirrel who gains superpowers after surviving being sucked into a powerful vacuum cleaner (of course!). Parts of the story are told in comic strips, showing the action instead of describing it. […]

Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe

“Beautiful” is a word frequently used to describe Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe, and that’s the first word that came to my mind as well. It has its painful and brutal moments, but its exploration of coming of age, cultural and sexual identity, and relationships of all kinds is a beautiful […]

brown girl dreaming

Review written by Jonathan Lavallee. There is a distinct lack of poetry in the world. Part of that could be that we hold poetry on this weird dusty pedestal, surrounded by academics all nodding sagely and talking in hushed tones about the power of words. That or we’ve put it down among the toys for […]

Grasshopper Jungle

Review written by Jonathan Lavallee. This highly acclaimed and award winning YA novel might grab the interest of your tween, but Jonathan offers some insight into why you’ll want to make an informed decision about letting your young reader put this on their “to read” pile, and why it should end up on your “to […]

The Sea of Trolls

The Sea of Trolls is a great historical fantasy epic for the middle grade set. It follows the adventures of 12 year old Jack after he and his little sister Lucy are captured by Northmen. After gravely insulting Frith, a half-troll queen, Jack needs to go on a quest to see the queen of the […]

Princess Academy

My daughter’s assessment of Princess Academy was “Really good, but not at all what I was expecting.” That seems quite accurate to me. Due to machinations of the plot, a tutor from the lowlands comes to Mount Eskel to try to get a bunch of mountain girls trained up enough that one of them can […]

The Giver

My daughter is reading The Giver in her 8th grade English class, so I used that as my excuse to finally reread this pioneer of middle grade dystopian literature. It holds up pretty well. There are some things that may seem a bit clichéd or predictable, but it reminded me of when I finally watched […]

The Tiger Rising

The Tiger Rising is quite short, just over 100 pages with chapters of 3-4 pages each. However, there’s a lot contained in this slim volume. It has “Literature Circle Questions” at the end because it was pretty much designed for that kind of situation—short enough for everyone to read, with enough metaphor to fuel tons […]

The Road to Paris

The Road to Paris is a picture of a short period in the life of nine year old Paris, a girl in foster care. She’s been in some really horrible situations, but now she’s with the Lincolns in a more stable and loving home, learning who she is, how to cope, and what she wants […]