Dec 312019

“Just Mercy” by Bryan Stevenson looks at people, even teenagers, on death row. He has made it his job to make sure justice is served. The dignity and respect with which Mr Stevenson speaks about his clients provide the rays of hope we need to work to change the system. This nonfiction book may be represented on the screen soon. Definitely worth a read!

“The Boy in the Black Suit” by Jason Reynolds.
Reynolds is a good writer. His characters seem to escape the page. He captures the grief and poignancy of being lost in a wilderness of pain after the death of a loved one. However, the ending seems a bit rushed.

“The Doughnut Fix” by Jessie Janowitz.
An imaginative story showcasing how determination and creativity allow a family moving from the big city to a small town to make it their home (albeit unwillingly in some cases). Using a light touch of comedy, the author shines a soft light on each character’s flaws while also emphasizing their strengths. Entrepreneurship and the stress children are sometimes under due to academics and changing friendships are also issues laid bare.

“Home in the Woods” by Eliza Wheeler

This gorgeously illustrated picture book looks at a family living in the country and trying to survive during the Great Depression. This is a wonderful way to introduce the topic.

Nov 212019

If you follow instagram, twitter, or booktube, you might have heard of a reading challenge called “Nonfiction November”. Four prompts were given or you can just try to read more nonfiction than you usually do.  See announcement here:

Keeping in the spirit, you could easily combine National Native American Heritage Month with Nonfiction November by reading some of the following:

Louise Erdrich is well-known for her many fiction titles; however, this short little look at her reading life and culture is one of my favorites.


While it is worthy of its classic status and one of my all-time favorite reads, it does leave you with a pretty bleak view of the future state of Native American tribes and nations.

The Heartbeat of Wounded Knee: Native America from 1890 to the Present ??

This is definitely on my TBR list (To Be Read)!  It is on the 2020 Carnegie Medals shortlist!!  If you have a nonfiction lover to buy a present for this December, this might be a great selection!

Squanto's Journey: The Story of the First Thanksgiving

Bruchac is a great storyteller and this is a great way to include all of those present at the first Thanksgiving.


Nov 132019

This is my favorite of the Kendra Michaels’ series. Fun, action-packed romance. This is a series you will want to read in order or all will be a muddle.

The Angel Experiment: A Maximum Ride Novel (Book 1)

Genetically-modified teen “angels” duke it out with the bad guys in this angsty dystopian book. The teens make up a tight “family” group as they try to survive. There are hints of a potential romance between two of the main characters. Told in the first person, this fantasy has a few inconsistencies and a very vague plot line although this is the first in the series so it might get stronger as it continues.


A unique story with fabulous characters and a great plot. Korman wins again with his mix of comic one-liners and serious topics.  What would we do if we were given a second chance to be a better person?

Neck & Neck

Leopold the giraffe is accustomed to adoration and snacks galore so when a cheerful, bouncy interloper threatens his realm, Leopold decides to clear the field. The kids loved the bright pictures and found the story quite humorous.

Oct 102019

As we move farther into “cold weather” territory, it is important to stock up on the things that will get us through until Spring:  hot chocolate, blankets, fuzzy socks, and BOOKS!  Here are a few recommendations to help with those stacks.

The Round House: A Novel


     A chilling look at the disintegration of a family following a horribly brutal act against the Mother. Erdrich incorporates Native American folklore in the middle of the book to pull the “before” and “after” together and this worked up to a point. The characters, plot, and writing are very good and pull the reader in to this sad story.

Not If I Save You First


      Two high-profile teens learn to work together as they battle the Alaskan wilderness and Russian assassins. Great adventure, humor, friendship, and teamwork.  This was a smart survival read.


A beautifully written novel packed with imagination, wit, friendship, and hope. I plan to recommend this to everyone.  It is the perfect size for a classroom read-aloud.

Ella McKeen, Kickball Queen

It is hard to find out you aren’t the only one with a certain talent. When a new girl moves in, Ella finds out her “kickball bombs” aren’t unstoppable any more. As she learns to deal with her feelings, she also learns how to be a good teammate and friend.




Oct 042019

It is cold. It is rainy. This morning someone had the audacity to mention snow……  It is time to get serious about reading. Because really. Nature is to be avoided when it is cold outside.

A Better Man: A Chief Inspector Gamache Novel 

No one does mystery with a heavy dose of beautiful writing like Louise Penny. This wasn’t one of her strongest as I actually guessed the ending about 3/4 of the way through; however, I was still there for the melancholy atmosphere and the family ties. This is the fifteenth in the series and it is still going strong!

The Last Word

As a historical novel, this will stand proudly by most of the adult versions of today. It was refreshing to see an intelligent young woman struggling against the strictures of her time without a completely dark, bleak atmosphere. Also, the relationship between the couple was more of a true romance built first on respect and friendship instead of just biology.

Survivor Girl

An adventure with strong, young protagonists who learn families don’t have to be perfect to be ok but things do need to be real. Excellent story.

Franklin's Flying Bookshop

A dragon, a bookshop, and true friendship. What else could you possibly need?  Beautiful illustrations?  Check. Great story? Check. It is sure to please.

If I Don't Make It, I Love You: Survivors in the Aftermath of School Shootings 

The survivors are from different regions and different backgrounds. Ages varied at the time of the violent acts. Some of them watched family and friends die. Others heard the shots and lived through the harrowing moments without ever actually laying eyes on the shooter. Each of them dealt with the aftermath in their own way. Some learned to forgive. Others not. Some became activists in gun control and/or school safety. This is definitely not an easy read but it does feel like a necessary one. My only quibble with this book are the editing mishaps scattered throughout which distract the reader from the essays.