My first copy of Frankenstein was a graduation gift from my senior English teacher in high school. I read it on my own soon after (i.e., not as a class assignment), and I adored it. After reading The Strange Case of the Alchemist’s Daughter, I decided it was time to read it again. I still […]

The Handmaid’s Tale

I finally read The Handmaid’s Tale, which has been on my “to read” list pretty much since it was first published in the United States in 1986. With the TV series out, I thought that some parents might wonder if/when the novel would be appropriate for their kids. I’m also going to assume that if you’re reading […]

The Door in the Hedge

Review written by Jonathan Lavallee.  The Door in the Hedge came on my radar as I was trolling through the Toronto Public Library ebook website. It was part of the Big Library Read program where the company that handles ebooks for the library, Overdrive, decided to let everyone borrow this book and even provided points […]

Nate the Great and the Halloween Hunt

I was aware of the Nate the Great series when my kids were young, but we never read them at home. I finally read my first one, Nate the Great and the Halloween Hunt. It’s very much a beginning reader book—no chapters, large type, lots of pictures—just about right for kids who aren’t quite ready for […]

Horrible Harry and the Kickball Wedding

I had my doubts about any book starring a character called “Horrible Harry,” but at least in Horrible Harry and the Kickball Wedding, Harry isn’t really all that horrible. He’s a bit of a prankster and he prefers to be the center of attention, but he’s actually kind of sensitive and figures out how to […]

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 […]


Zeely is the story of the summer that Elizabeth and her younger brother John spend at their uncle’s farm. Elizabeth, determined to have an eventful summer, decides that the way to start is for her and John to take on new names—they become Geeder and Toeboy for the rest of the summer. When Geeder spots Zeely, the […]


Scorpions is a realistic novel published in 1988 and set in a similar time period. It’s the story of Jamal, a 12 year old who is pulled into a gang after his 17 year old brother, Randy—the leader of the gang—is jailed for a robbery in which a clerk is killed. Mack, who was Randy’s […]

The Dragon Charmer

The Dragon Charmer is the sequel to Prospero’s Children. Twelve years have passed, and Fern has grown up; in many ways, the tone of this novel has grown up as well. After denying that she has the Gift, Fern is about to marry a charming media personality to live a perfectly acceptable life. She’s not […]

Black Maria (AKA Aunt Maria)

Review written by Jonathan Lavallee. In the novel Black Maria (also published as Aunt Maria), Naomi and Chris’ father died while visiting his Aunt Maria. She lives in a place called Cranbury, and Naomi has tried her best to make sure that they never visit Aunt Maria. She has given Aunt Maria explanation after explanation as […]