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Textbook Amy Krouse Rosenthal - Amy Krouse Rosenthal

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Why the title T​extbook Amy Krouse Rosenthal?​

• Because the book is organized into chapters with classic subject headings such as Social Studies, Music, Language Arts, Math, etc.
• Because textbook ​is an expression meaning “quintessential,” as in, Oh, that wordplay and unconventional format is so typical of her, so textbook Amy.
• Because for the first time ever, readers can further engage with a book via text messaging.
• Because if an author’s previous book has Encyclopedia i​n the title, following it up with a ​Textbook would be rather nice.
Not exactly a memoir, not just a collection of observations, Textbook Amy Krouse Rosenthal is an exploration into the many ways we are connected on this planet and speaks to the awe, bewilderment, and poignancy of being alive.


This book is spare.

There is a lot of white space, emphasizing the importance of the text and images that do appear on various pages and spreads.

The truths are profound; the insights are simple but often missed in daily life…

The Fashion Committee - Susan Juby

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Charlie Dean is a style-obsessed girl who eats, sleeps, and breathes fashion. John Thomas-Smith is a boy who forges metal sculptures in his garage and couldn't care less about clothes. But they share one thing in common: both are gunning for a scholarship to the private art high school that could make all their dreams come true. And whoever wins the fashion competition will win the scholarship. Told in the alternating voices of Charlie's and John's fashion journals which they're required to keep for the contest, this hilarious and poignant tale perfectly captures what it's like to have an artistic passion so fierce that nothing--not your dad's girlfriend's drug-addicted ex-boyfriend, a soul-crushing job at Salad Stop, or being charged with a teensy bit of kidnapping--can stand in your way.

This is a great book! I read it in one afternoon and couldn't put it down. Both of the narrators are distinct, which can be difficult to do in multiple POV situations.…

Pondering Bookish Things; Or, Wearing Many Hats

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So, I've been reading a lot of books over the last few years, and I've been writing reviews, researching for my PhD, and working on various award committees. I just wanted to take a few moments to talk through some of the difficulties of wearing these hats. When I write a review, I am reviewing a single book. I am looking at the characters, setting, writing, and possible socio-political implications of events and representation within that particular text. I'm not necessarily looking at the publisher's track record or the author's previous works, or even the larger body of work within a given genre or age-range.
In my scholarly work, however, I am suddenly looking not only at representation in a single book, but also in terms of a larger context. In my particular field for instance, I read a lot of books featuring trans characters. I look not only at representation within a particular text, but also explore the implications of these representations in the larger con…

When I Am Through With You - Stephanie Kuehn

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“This isn’t meant to be a confession. Not in any spiritual sense of the word. Yes, I’m in jail at the moment. I imagine I’ll be here for a long time, considering. But I’m not writing this down for absolution and I’m not seeking forgiveness, not even from myself. Because I’m not sorry for what I did to Rose. I’m just not. Not for any of it.”

Ben Gibson is many things, but he’s not sorry and he’s not a liar. He will tell you exactly about what happened on what started as a simple school camping trip in the mountains. About who lived and who died. About who killed and who had the best of intentions. But he’s going to tell you in his own time. Because after what happened on that mountain, time is the one thing he has plenty of.


I couldn't put this one down. I rarely can with Kuehn's work. I first became enthralled with her work when I read Charm & Strange and later, Complicit. Kuehn knows how to build tension and make readers guess, and she certainly doesn't shy away from ma…

Little & Lion - Brandy Colbert

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When Suzette comes home to Los Angeles from her boarding school in New England, she isn't sure if she'll ever want to go back. L.A. is where her friends and family are (along with her crush, Emil). And her stepbrother, Lionel, who has been diagnosed with bipolar disorder, needs her emotional support.

But as she settles into her old life, Suzette finds herself falling for someone new...the same girl her brother is in love with. When Lionel's disorder spirals out of control, Suzette is forced to confront her past mistakes and find a way to help her brother before he hurts himself--or worse.
Though the novel starts off from a seemingly simple premise, the characters and relationships are anything but. Colbert is a masterful writer. I was first introduced to her through Pointe, a fabulous novel by the way, and was so excited to see Little & Lion show up in the mail!
I love the quietness of Colbert's work, the fact that she knows how to write strong and compelling charact…

Spill Zone - Scott Westerfeld & Alex Puvilland

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Nobody's ever really explained the Spill. Was it an angelic visitation? A nanotech accident? A porthole opening from another world? Whatever it was, no one's allowed in the Spill Zone these days except government scientists and hazmat teams. But a few intrepid explorers know how to sneak through the patrols and steer clear of the dangers inside the Zone. Addison Merrick is one such explorer, dedicated to finding out what happened that night, and to unraveling the events that took her parents and left her little sister mute and disconnected from the world.

I had no idea what I was getting myself into when I was sent a copy of this graphic novel. I was thinking maybe something to do with a nuclear meltdown and some kind of crime-fighting (judging from the cover alone) and then I started reading through and was blown away. This book is creepy, twisted, beautifully illustrated, and super compelling. I should warn people that it's not a one-off; the ending is not complete and th…

Orphan Island - Laurel Snyder

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On the island, everything is perfect. The sun rises in a sky filled with dancing shapes; the wind, water, and trees shelter and protect those who live there; when the nine children go to sleep in their cabins, it is with full stomachs and joy in their hearts. And only one thing ever changes: on that day, each year, when a boat appears from the mist upon the ocean carrying one young child to join them—and taking the eldest one away, never to be seen again.

Today’s Changing is no different. The boat arrives, taking away Jinny’s best friend, Deen, replacing him with a new little girl named Ess, and leaving Jinny as the new Elder. Jinny knows her responsibility now—to teach Ess everything she needs to know about the island, to keep things as they’ve always been. But will she be ready for the inevitable day when the boat will come back—and take her away forever from the only home she’s known?
Similar (in a way) to Hokey Pokey by Jerry Spinelli, Orphan Island takes an abstract look at what it…

Blood on the Beach - Sarah N. Harvey and Robin Stevenson

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Eight teens are dropped off on a remote west-coast island for a week-long treatment program called INTRO (Into Nature to Renew Ourselves). The story is told by two of them: Alice, whose police-officer mother believes Alice might have a substance-abuse problem, and Caleb, who assaulted his abusive stepfather. They are joined by six other miscreants and three staff: a psychologist, a social worker and an ex-cop. On the first night, one of the girls disappears from her cabin. There is a panicked search of the island, but she is nowhere to be found. The adults seem oddly ineffectual in dealing with the crisis—and then the ex-cop gets sick and dies. The radio has been sabotaged, and there is no way to call for help. When the social worker also becomes ill, the kids decide to take matters into their own hands and track down the killer.
I'm a bit biased since I know both Harvey and Stevenson, however I still think I'm able to judge the book with a bit of an objective lens. So fun! I t…

Queens of Geek - Jen Wilde

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When BFFs Charlie, Taylor and Jamie go to SupaCon, they know it’s going to be a blast. What they don’t expect is for it to change their lives forever. Charlie likes to stand out. SupaCon is her chance to show fans she’s over her public breakup with co-star, Reese Ryan. When Alyssa Huntington arrives as a surprise guest, it seems Charlie’s long-time crush on her isn’t as one-sided as she thought. While Charlie dodges questions about her personal life, Taylor starts asking questions about her own.

Taylor likes to blend in. Her brain is wired differently, making her fear change. And there’s one thing in her life she knows will never change: her friendship with Jamie—no matter how much she may secretly want it to. But when she hears about the Queen Firestone SupaFan Contest, she starts to rethink her rules on playing it safe.
This book was super fun and really cute, but with depth and complexity to round out the talk of romance and crushes. Told in alternating POV style between Charlie and …

Lemons - Melissa Savage

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How do you make lemonade out of having to leave everything you know in San Francisco to move to the small town of Willow Creek, California and live with a grandfather you’ve never even met? In a town that smells like grass and mud and bugs. With tall pines instead of skyscrapers and dirt instead of sidewalks. Not to mention one woolly beast lurking in the woods. That’s right, Bigfoot.

A ginormous wooden statue of the ugly thing stands right at the center of town like he’s someone real important, like the mayor or something. And the people here actually believe he’s real and hiding somewhere out in the pine filled forests. How can anyone possibly be expected to make lemonade out those rotten lemons?

Everything is different and Lem just wants to go back home. And then she meets Tobin Sky, the CEO of Bigfoot Detectives, Inc. and sole investigator for the town. He invites her to be his Assistant for the summer and she reluctantly agrees. At least until she can figure out her escape plan.
Aft…

Ramona Blue - Julie Murphy

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Ramona was only five years old when Hurricane Katrina changed her life forever. Standing over six feet tall with unmistakable blue hair, Ramona is sure of three things: she likes girls, she’s fiercely devoted to her family, and she knows she’s destined for something bigger than the trailer she calls home in Eulogy, Mississippi. But juggling multiple jobs, her flaky mom, and her well-meaning but ineffectual dad forces her to be the adult of the family. Now, with her sister, Hattie, pregnant, responsibility weighs more heavily than ever.

The return of her childhood friend Freddie brings a welcome distraction. Ramona’s friendship with the former competitive swimmer picks up exactly where it left off, and soon he’s talked her into joining him for laps at the pool. But as Ramona falls in love with swimming, her feelings for Freddie begin to shift too, which is the last thing she expected. With her growing affection for Freddie making her question her sexual identity, Ramona begins to wonder…

Just a Normal Tuesday - Kim Turrisi

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It's just a normal Tuesday for sixteen-year-old Kai, until suddenly it's anything but. She's received a letter from her beloved older sister, Jen, a letter that begins, My very bestest sister, Kai, if you are reading this, I am already gone. From that moment on, Kai's life will never be the same, as she is forced to deal with the shock and horror of losing Jen to suicide.

Consumed with grief, Kai looks for answers, lashes out at people who love her and eventually turns to excessive drinking and drugs, all with disastrous results and no relief from her suffering. Struggling with their own sorrow, Kai's parents realize she needs more help than they can give, and they enroll her in the Tree House, a "grief camp" for children. Though reluctant to go, once she's there, Kai finally finds others who truly understand her loss. No longer alone, she's able to begin dealing with her pain. And to see light at the end of the dark tunnel.

Turrisi's very per…

Star-Crossed - Barbara Dee

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Mattie, a star student and passionate reader, is delighted when her English teacher announces the eighth grade will be staging Romeo and Juliet. And she is even more excited when, after a series of events, she finds herself playing Romeo, opposite Gemma Braithwaite’s Juliet. Gemma, the new girl at school, is brilliant, pretty, outgoing—and, if all that wasn’t enough: British.

As the cast prepares for opening night, Mattie finds herself growing increasingly attracted to Gemma and confused, since, just days before, she had found herself crushing on a boy named Elijah. Is it possible to have a crush on both boys AND girls? If that wasn’t enough to deal with, things backstage at the production are starting to rival any Shakespearean drama!
This book is super charming, full of humour and wit, and an absolutely adorable middle-school romance. Mattie is having a tough time in school; she's been ostracized by a group of girls (Willow, Isabel, and Charlottle) and hasn't been invited to …

Amina's Voice - Hena Khan

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A Pakistani-American Muslim girl struggles to stay true to her family’s vibrant culture while simultaneously blending in at school after tragedy strikes her community in this sweet and moving middle grade novel from the award-winning author of It’s Ramadan, Curious George and Golden Domes and Silver Lanterns.

Amina has never been comfortable in the spotlight. She is happy just hanging out with her best friend, Soojin. Except now that she’s in middle school everything feels different. Soojin is suddenly hanging out with Emily, one of the “cool” girls in the class, and even talking about changing her name to something more “American.” Does Amina need to start changing too? Or hiding who she is to fit in? While Amina grapples with these questions, she is devastated when her local mosque is vandalized.
This is a book that needs to exist in the child lit world right now! A young girl finding her voice in the midst of cultural intolerance, a coming-together of those from differing religious b…

The Inexplicable Logic of My Life - Benjamin Alire Sáenz

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Everything is about to change. Until this moment, Sal has always been certain of his place with his adoptive gay father and their loving Mexican-American family. But now his own history unexpectedly haunts him, and life-altering events force him and his best friend, Samantha, to confront issues of faith, loss, and grief.

Suddenly Sal is throwing punches, questioning everything, and discovering that he no longer knows who he really is—but if Sal’s not who he thought he was, who is he?

While not exactly similar to Aristotle and Dante in terms of the storyline, Inexplicable Logic contains the same strong character development, elegant prose, and compelling dialogue.
Perhaps the most significant and memorable part of this novel in particular is the relationship dynamics. There's Sal, Sam, and Fito, three friends with exceptional rapport. There's Sal's father and his relationship with Sal, Sam, and Fito, as a role-model and father. And there's Mima and Sal's relationship; …