Open a book this minute and start reading. Don’t move until you’ve reached page fifty. Until you’ve buried your thoughts in print. Cover yourself with words. Wash yourself away. Dissolve. Carol Shields Republic of Love

Susin Nielsen’s We Are All Made of Molecules (2015)

Henry K. Larsen — star of Susin Nielsen’s last novel — was a savvy young fellow: “I know I can’t change my stupid red hair or my stupid freckles. But I can lower my freak flag.”

Tundra Books, 2015

In contrast, Stewart — star of her most recent novel — flies his freak flag […]

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February 2015: In My Stacks

No matter how dilgent one has been with one’s read-o-lutions, February is not the shortest month but the longest test.

If it had a chapter heading? In which all your good bookish intentions will flake away like paper splinters from the spine of a well-loved paperback.

And, yet, my February reading, one week in, remains in concert […]

A Fainter Footprint in Fiction

Sarah Ellis’ Outside In is her seventeenth novel for young readers, and readers who discover her through this unusual work will undoubtedly be keen to investigate her backlist.

Groundwood Books, 2014

The cover captures the hint of mystery which lurks beneath the story, for Lynn encounters Blossom and immediately questions present themselves.

“Either […]

Diversiverse 2014 – Reading more diversely

Of course I made a reading list.

Then, I saw Vasilly’s list. (You probably already know where this is heading.)

Her list has many temptations on it, including some of my favourites.

But I have been looking for a reason to read the rest of Kazu Kibuishi’s Amulet series since I read the first volume as […]

On Courtney Crumrin, Lucy Knisley, and Faith Erin Hicks

There’s a new girl at school. One who hasn’t heard about Courtney Crumrin and who dares to sit with her at lunch.

Readers, however, are well-acquainted with Courtney by now; this is the fifth book in the series about the irrepressible girl who dares to go into dark places and keep dark company.

In The […]

May 2014, In My Notebook

At the beginning of the month, I made a note to gather the last of Susin Nielsen’s books. Because I absolutely loved Word Nerd (2008) and The Reluctant Journal of Henry K. Larsen (2012).

Tundra Books, 2008

Not realizing that the characters overlap, I started with the most recent book, then read the first, and […]

Steffie, Angel, Baby and More

When I was in high school, I read Fran Arrick’s Steffie Can’t Come Out to Play (1978) more than once.

I even wrote a book report on it in the ninth grade, when the assigned reading included J. Meade Falkner’s Moonfleet and Robert Westall’s The Machine Gunners. (Wanted: female characters.)

Quite likely this story of […]

Ellen Hopkins’ Crank Trilogy

How fully can an author inhabit an addict’s world and still spin a story coherent enough to engage the teen reader?

Margaret K. McElderry Books(Simon & Schuster Books), 2004

In the 1970’s, kids might have turned to the anonymously penned Go Ask Alice (1971), which was billed as an actual diary, but was actually […]

Scott Westerfeld’s Uglies Series

At the beginning of the novel, where an epigraph might appear, is a note from the author, explaining that Uglies was shaped by a series of email exchanges between Scott Westerfeld and author Ted Chiang about his story “Liking What You See: A Documentary”.

At the end of Ted Chiang’s collection Stories of Your Life, […]

Black History Month: Four Courageous Women

Nine months before Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat on the bus, Claudette Colvin, fifteen years old, stayed in her seat on a segregated bus in Montgomery, Alabama.

It was March 2, 1955, but in the intervening years, this story has been all-but-forgotten. Phillip Hoose‘s work is essential reading.

Based on fourteen lengthy […]