Feed by M. T. Anderson

Ages 13 and up

Titus is a typical, teenage boy living in a future world that involves space travel and major media involvement.  Computers are no longer an external device that people carry around, but are internal devices, feeding directly into the brain.  The “feed” can be used to broadcast, chat, send messages, receive mass amounts of advertisements, and for shopping. Kind of like Facebook in your head! Titus and his friends go spend a weekend on the moon, seeking the ultimate party, and meet Violet.  While at a party, Titus, Violet, and several of their friends are hacked.  After a few days of hospitalization, and reprogramming, they are all up and running again- except for Violet.  Violet’s feed is malfunctioning.  As Titus continues to get to know Violet, he is forced to think about things form a perspective he had never considered.

My Rating:  5 Stars


Z for Zachariah

Z for Zachariah by Robert C. O’Brien

Ages 12 and up

Ann Burden is a sixteen year old girl who has gotten used to living by herself.   After the war ended, all of the people she knew died from radiation poison.  It seemed that the valley (somewhere along the east coast) she lived in somehow “has its own weather.”  Ann begins to take care of herself, cultivates the land, and is surviving.  The book, written as a journal from Ann’s point of view begins with “I am afraid.  Someone is coming.”  When John Loomis, a chemist from Cornell University arrives in his green radiation-free suit, with his supplies and a Geiger counter, Ann has to decide how she will share the land with him, or if she even wants to.

My Rating: 5 Stars


A Few More Words

You Read to Me, I’ll Read to You by Mary Ann Hoberman

This book of “very short stories to read together”, illustrated by Michael Emberley, is really a book of poems.  They are color-coded to show which parts I read, which parts you read, and which parts we read together.  “I Hate My Hat” is one of my favorites!



A Pocketful of Poems by Nikki Grimes

This poetry book alternates  between free-verse and haiku.  Each new topic is illustrated and has one of each type of poem.  The illustrations by Javaka Steptoe combine paper cut-outs and three-dimensional objects.



Science Verse by Jon Scieszka and Lane Smith

Scieszka and Smith explore (exploit?) various poems through scientific parodies.  They cover the digestive system, evolution, black holes, food chains, matter and more.  You will recognize the framework from many of the poems!  Read “‘Twas the Night Before Anything” for their interpretation of the Big Bang theory and “Astronaut Stopping By a Planet on a Snowy Evening.”  Fun stuff!


And Now for Something Completely Different… Poetry

My man Blue by Nikki Grimes

This picture book by Nikki Grimes, was illustrated by Jerome Lagarrigue in acrylics.   While it is written in poetry form, and each poem can stand alone, the book really tells a story about a boy, Damon, who eventually accepts his mom’s “old friend.”  Together, they face a class bully, anger, fear, and trust.


Here in Harlem:  poems in many voices by Walter Dean Myers

In this tribute to W. B. Yeats, Walter Dean Myers captures a vignette of Harlem.  Through 54 poems, Myers introduces the different people that made up the community of his childhood home, and gives voice to each of them.  Some of the people represented through poem include:  a retiree, a nanny, some students, a janitor, a hairdresser, and a street vendor.


Dark emperor & other poems of the night  by Joyce Sidman

This picture book by Joyce Sidman, and illustrated by Rick Allen is a picture book, a non-fiction book, and a poetry book all in one.  Allen illustrated using “relief printing” which involves blocks of linoleum, ink, and in this case gouache (an intense watercolor).  Sidman alternated between poetry that focuses on nature and a non-fiction explanation of the living things mentioned in the poem.


Snow, snow:  winter poems for children  by Jane Yolen

Photography by Jane Yolen’s son, Jason Stemple, is highlighted in this book.  Yolen wrote 13 poems to go along with, and inspired by, the photography.  The style of each poem varies, but the topic is the same: they are all about snow.


  Bang! by Sharon G. Flake

Ages 12 and up

Mann is still struggling with the loss of his kid brother, Jason.   Even though the apartment has been cleaned up, Mann can still “see the blood” from where Jason died after he was shot.  In a world of poverty, crime, and shootings, Mann has to face life and learn how to deal with it himself.  After another incident, Mann’s father makes some decisions to harden his son, or to help him “be a man.”  Mann’s father has been reading about manhood initiations in Africa, and believes that some of the same acts might save his son.  Unfortunately, it might kill him first.

This book gives an authentic look at what life is like in the inner city, and how parents, and their children try to survive.

My Rating: 3.5 Stars


  After Ever After by Jordan Sonnenblick

Ages 9 through grown-up

In this sequel to Drums, Girls, and Dangerous Pie (one of the best books ever!), Jeffrey is in 8th-grade, and dealing with the effects of chemotherapy and radiation while being treated for leukemia when he was four.  He has a pretty severe limp and his brain isn’t as efficient with certain things, especially math.  This is nothing compared to what his best friend, Tad, has to deal with.  Tad dealt with cancer twice, and is virtually stuck in a wheelchair.  The boys support each other as they deal with life as 8th-graders, including issues like parents, siblings, girls, and something that “nobody is talking about.”

My Rating: 4.5 Stars



Sold by Patricia McCormick

Grades 9 and up

Lakshmi tells her story in verse, and it is an ugly, sad story of oppression.  Lakshmi, at 13, is sold by her family in Nepal, and is brought to India’s “red light district.”  When a man shows up for her services, and Lakshmi realizes what she is supposed to do, she tries to fight it.  She understands,  as other girls cope with this life in whatever way they can.  Lakshmi is offered an out by someone she was told not to trust, but she is not really sure who to trust regardless.  She has already seen what happens to a girl who tries to run away, and must choose from a variety of risks.

This excellent story, told in poetry, is eye-opening and based on real accounts of the trafficking that occurs in India.

Typical Teen Topics

Middle School:  The Worst Years of My Life by James Patterson

Grades 4 through 9

Rafe begins sixth-grade and starts setting goals immediately.  His first goal is to avoid Miller, the school’s biggest bully.  His second goal is to get Jeanne Galletta’s attention, as she is pretty and cool.  His third goal, based on the other two, is to break every rule in the Hills Village Middle school Code of Conduct – yep, that’s right, break EVERY rule.

The book is filled with illustrations that add to the story, as Rafe deals with teachers, students, his family, and himself.

My Rating: 3 Stars



The Earth, My Butt & Other Big Round Things by Carolyn Mackler

Ages 13 to 19

Virginia always played in the shadows of beautiful, successful, and thin siblings.  The brother she had always looked up to gets in trouble for something abominable, and Virginia has to start re-evaluating some things:  her family, her self-perceptions, her life rules, her social life.  After taking a few risks, things start to change…

My Rating: 4 Stars



A Couple of Caldecotts

Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus!  by Mo Willems

Ages 3 through adult

This book is simple, and hilarious!  Willems did an excellent job with the consistent drawings, limited colors, and easy to read text.  In spite of its simplicity, the book expresses a range of emotions through tiny color changes, and expressions from the pigeon, as he builds himself up to a tantrum.  Enjoy the book, and enjoy the pigeon’s humorous attempts to convince you to fold, but whatever you do…  “Don’t let the pigeon drive the bus!”

My Rating:  4.5 Stars

Tops & Bottoms by Janet Stevens

Ages 5 to 10

This book is engineered in a unique way!  To go along with the theme of tops and bottoms, Stevens crafted the book so that it has to be rotated to read it.  In other words, the left and right pages, are really the top and bottom, respectively.   The story is about a lazy bear, and a hardworking, sly rabbit who keeping making deals regarding harvest time.

My Rating:  4 Stars

The Ugly Duckling by Jerry Pinkney

Ages 4 to adult

The story is adapted from Hans Christian Anderson tale, and the beautiful watercolor is all Pinkney’s.  Come for the award-winning artwork, and stay for the classic tale.

My Rating:  3.5 Stars