Straw Into Gold by Gary D. Schmidt

The cottage he shares with Da and the clearing beyond are the only world Tousle has ever known. When a visit to see the King’s procession results in his being given a riddle to solve within seven days or be killed, the simple life he once knew seems long in the past. Now on the …read more…

My Dad’s A Punk edited by Tony Bradman

Again, this book was another one of those lucky finds as I wandered around in the library: a book of short stories for reluctant readers, and a book about things boys think and wonder about written just for boys (many of whom are reluctant readers). The title story, by Sean Taylor, is probably my favorite, …read more…

I Am Not Joey Pigza (Jack Gantos)

If you’ve been following this blog, then you know how much I love the Joey Pigza books and how accurately they depict the life of a young boy with ADHD. You also know that this is a series that many young people, especially boys, really seem to connect with. So I was a little reserved …read more…

Bog Child (Siobhan Dowd)

This book had been on my radar for a long time, but hadn’t been available in our local library. Now I know why. Eighteen-year-old Fergus is living through “The Troubles” in Northern Ireland. His older brother is in a British prison for being involved with the IRA, and while he plans to go to college …read more…

Guys Write for Guys Read (Jon Scieszka, ed.)

  What I love about books like Guys Write is that they remind me of those assortments of little boxes of cereal: you get a little bit of everything. Like those assortments, there’s no need to read a book like this straight through, or even to read all of it. You can dip in and …read more…

He Said, She Said: The Fine Art of Dialogue Attribution

I have just spent the last year being in and out of classrooms, and I noticed that many of the English classrooms (especially in middle school) displayed posters that provided synonyms for the word “said.” In one room I saw poster that extended horizontally over half the length of the wall, listing over 300 “synonyms” …read more…

Atherton: The House of Power (Patrick Carman)

The only world eleven-year-old Edgar has ever known is that of Tabletop. In the center of Tabletop are the cliffs that lead to the Highlands, but climbing those cliffs is strictly forbidden. At the outer edge, sheer cliffs descend to the unknown Flatlands. As an orphan, Edgar has always had to work for Mr. Ratikan, …read more…

Before We Were Free (Julia Alvarez)

Twelve-year-old Anita has always had a happy life, living with her extended family in the Dominican Republic. Her middle class family live a life that few in her country can afford, with household servants and private schools for their children. And always, they are surrounded by portraits of “El Jefe,” whom Anita has always thought …read more…

I Can’t Keep My Own Secrets

Literary legend has it that someone once challenged Ernest Hemingway to write a novel in six words. His response was “For sale: baby shoes, never worn.” I’m not sure if this is true or not: the whole thing sounds a little too neat for me. I’m not a huge fan of Hemingway, so I’m not …read more…

Strange Happenings (Avi)

At some point in our lives, we all have a desire to become someone or something else. What would you do if that wish became true? The five short tales contained in this book all have transformation as a central plot device: A bored twelve-year-old boy turns into a cat. A young princess in a …read more…

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