Book Review: Soupy Leaves Home




 Soupy Leaves Home by Cecil Castellucci


A perfectly executed graphic historical fiction. This text seamlessly weaves color, layout and text to tell the story of Pearl/Soupy as she hits the rails and meets her hobo mentor Ramshackle. As she runs from her troubles she learns the ways of the hobo community and finds her place in the world.
The hobo signs sprinkled throughout the book are guaranteed to make readers attentive and curious. The story itself is a bit of history that often goes unnoticed. Grades 6-8 should find great appeal.

Click here for a book trailer created by the author.

Source:  paperback from the public library

Audience:  grade 6 and up




Book Review: All Rise for the Honorable Perry T. Cook

All Rise for the Honorable Perry T. Cook

by Leslie Connory648


A book about a child born in raised in a prison.  And it’s not a downer,  not at all.  Filled with quirky characters and so much love, it is sure to be a favorite for many readers.

The action plot is exciting – what will happen if people find out?  How will Perry’s life change?  How will his mom endure without him by her side?

A thoughtful emotional plot really focuses on how we define home and family.  The title permeates the entire text:  rise up.  Get out of bed.  Take a class.  Do your chores.  Make a plan.  Rise yourself up from where you are.

Source:  Public Library ebook

I highly recommend this book for all readers grade 6 and up

Book Review: In the Footsteps of Crazy Horse




In the Footsteps of Crazy Horse by Joseph M. Marshall III

This book is going to need a little help finding and audience, but when it does they are going to love it.  Coming of age, road trips, history, culture all work so well in this slim text.

This is an important book to share with kids.  I found myself stopping to look up the memorials and historical sites as I was reading.  This is not the history I was taught in school.  It’s so much more personal and authentic.


Please read the excellent review published on the American Indians in Children’s Literature site.

Book Review: The Mighty Odds by Amy Ignatow





This book gets high marks from me because of funny lines and realistic teenage characters who just happen to have superpowers. The true strength of the books lies in the telling of how they get the powers, how they use the powers and how they work through their stereotyped roles.

It’s part one of a series, and readers of this blog know how much I hate a series.  I do appreciate that the author ended this episode and left me interested in reading more – not irritated by a cliffhanger.

Book Review: The Best Man by Richard Peck



Richard Peck has captivated me with this book. I enjoyed the humor, the characters and the plot. I especially liked the family relationships, dads and moms and sons and daughters and brothers all figuring out how to b happy. Mix in the deadpan humor and social ineptness of the main character and you have a winner for sure.

Source:  Public Library

Audience:  Grade 5 and up

Book Review: Towers Falling by Jewell Parker Rhodes



The author deftly weaves the concepts of home, family, and community in this kind-hearted book. I love that Deja allows herself to be happy and that the kids in the book choose kindness over judgement time and again. For many kids literature will be the best way for them to learn about this tragic day.


Readers may like this video featuring visual elements of the book


Source:  Ebook from the public library

Audience:  5th-7th grade

Book Review: You’re Welcome Universe

You’re Welcome Universe

by Whitney Gardner


I really like a book that teaches me something new.  I love a book that teaches me something without hitting me over the head with it.  This debut novel immerses the reader in the Deaf community while exploring love, friendship and family.  Oh, and  graffiti art.  I’m completely fascinated by this and now I’m looking at trains and walls in a new way.

When Julia is expelled from her private school for vandalism/protecting a friend she is plunged into the hearing world without much preparation.  Despite her wish to stay disconnected she does make a friend and an enemy.

When her graffiti is defaced by another artist a war begins that challenges Julia to redefine herself as an artist and community member.


I read this as a digital ARC.  I’m planning to pick it up in print so that I can see the illustrations more clearly – although the final ebook copy may be better than the ARC.



Expected Publication:  March 7, 2017

Source:  ARC from publisher

Audience:  High school – could be 8th grade but for one mature scene

Book Review: Turning 15 On the Road to Freedom by Lynda Blackmon Lowery



What an amazing story! This book will help young readers to understand the terror and bravery of the Selma Marchers. The voice is so real and authentic, I feel like I can hear her in my mind. Archival photos and illustrations add to the depth of this work.

NPR has a great interview to read or listen to.

Source:  Public Library

Audience:  grade 6 and up

Book Review: Beneath by Roland Smith




This book is so realistic that I am feeling a bit claustrophobic after binge reading it.  I loved the strong relationship between Coop and Patrick and the quiet strength of Kate.  Nice complicated plot plus a little adventure.  A great pick for middle school and high school readers.

I’m generally not a fan of book series because so often the book does not END.  I cannot stand a cliffhanger – it makes me feel like I’m being tricked into buying a second book.  Not so in this case.  The ending was satisfying, but still left me wanting more.

I’m definitely going to read the sequel



Audience:  Grade 6 and up

Source:  Public Library




Saving Red by Sonya Sones


Sonya Sones never disappoints.  Her novels in verse have captivated many of my students and lured in the most reluctant readers I have worked with.  This new title, published October 18, 2016 is no exception.

14 year old Molly is spending her winter break avoiding the sad remains of her family.  Her workaholic father is no match for her pot-addled mother. As Molly travels around town with her service dog she meets a cute boy on the pier and spots Red, a homeless teen living on the streets of the town.  Molly decides that everything will get better if she can just get Red home to her family for Christmas. With the help of Cristo, her maybe-boyfriend, Molly sets out to save Red.

But, like everything in YA novels, it is not that simple.

The cover itself supports the plot:  we only see the part of Red that Red wants us to see.  But if we peek closely at the lettering we know that there is more to her than meets the eye.

Source:  ARC from publisher

Audience:  7th-8th grade and up

*drug use by Molly’s mother is not glamorized or described in great detail.