Archive | October 2012

October Verse Novels Reviews – week 1

Born Bookish reviews HIDDEN by Helen Frost

Devour Books reviews CRANK by Ellen Hopkins

Laura Salas reviews THE WATCH THAT ENDS THE NIGHT by Alan Wolff

Alamosa Books reviews FORGET ME NOT by Carolee Dean

Forget Me Not book cover

Cool Rich and Popular Reviews IDENTICAL by Ellen Hopkins

The Passionate Librarian reviews I’LL BE WATCHING by Pamela Porter

That’s Another Story reviews MAY B by Caroline Starr Rose


Banned Books Week Blog Hop and Giveaway Winner!

What My Mother Doesn't Know (What My Mother Doesn't Know, #1)The winner of Sonya Sones’s “banned” book WHAT MY MOTHER DOESN’T KNOW is ANGIE! Yay!

Get in touch with us Angie so we can send this awesome book on its way to you. And thanks to everyone who participated in this great hop and in banned Books Week events all over the world! We love banned books!





OrchardsAs previously discussed verse novels seem to lend themselves to subject matter that might considered “difficult”. This could be a function of their concise approachable form or simply because if they are already somewhat marginalized, where is the harm in exploring marginal territory, narratively speaking?

Perhaps this is also the reason that verse novels appear to suffer less from the Amero/Anglocentricity that plagues literature in general and books for young readers in particular.  Many verse novels I’ve read recently not only include diverse characters but also delve deeply into non Anglo/American cultures while still telling universally relatable stories.

Just yesterday I finished reading ORCHARDS by Holly Thompson, a very contained and emotional story of a young girl’s remorse after the suicide of a bullied classmate. Though the protagonist Kana, is American, the bulk of the story takes place in a seaside village in Japan. The story relies on and is revealed through Japanese culture, the ceremonies, the familial relationships and customs Kana encounters when she is sent to spend the summer there. These details aren’t mere decoration. The Japanese respect, veneration of ancestors, traditional grieving practices and celebration of nature all enable Kana to come to terms with her role in her classmate’s death.

ORCHARDS, like many verse novels, is very short and very spare yet it somehow manages to be rich in detail and character and to present a narrative that will resonate with many young readers.

The Good BraiderA few other verse novels that explore non-anglo culture include Newbery Honor book INSIDE OUT AND BACK AGAIN by Thanhha Lai (Vietnamese culture), UNDER THE MESQUITE by Guadalupe Garcia McCall (Latino American), KARMA by Cathy Ostlere (Indian and Indo-Canadian), THE WILD BOOK by Margerite Engle (Cuban culture),    THE GOOD BRAIDER by Terry Farish (Sudanese culture), ALEUTIAN SPARROW by Karen Hesse (Aleut/Eskimo culture), YELLOW STAR by Jennifer Roy (Polish/Jewish),  and WHO WILL TELL MY BROTHER? by Marlene Carvell (Native American).

The Wild BookSome of the above are written “cross-culturally” as it were, by Anglo writers. While I’m not one to criticize cross-cultural writing (when it is done well and sensitively) I’d love to see more verse novelists who come from non-Anglo cultures telling stories inspired by their experiences within these cultures. Eastern  Europe, Africa, the Middle East, the Pacific Islands, Indigenous Australians, the New Zealand Maori, Mainland China, the West Indies where are your verse novels? I know a verse novel might be challenge for someone writing in English as a second language, and that novels in verse  don’t lend themselves as easily to translation but still. There are brilliant writers from all these cultures. Give us some verse!

Are there any stand out verse novels that I have missed?

This entry was posted on October 5, 2012. 2 Comments

September New Release Giveaway Hop: OCTOBER MOURNING – WINNER! winner of the September New Release Giveaway is: CASSI! Please send me your mailing address via the contact form, Cassi so I can get this book to you ASAP!

October Mourning: A Song for Matthew Shepard

Here’s what Goodreads says about OCTOBER MOURNING:

A masterful poetic exploration of the impact of Matthew Shepard’s murder on the world.

On the night of October 6, 1998, a gay twenty-one-year-old college student named Matthew Shepard was lured from a Wyoming bar by two young men, savagely beaten, tied to a remote fence, and left to die. Gay Awareness Week was beginning at the University of Wyoming, and the keynote speaker was Lesléa Newman, discussing her book Heather Has Two Mommies. Shaken, the author addressed the large audience that gathered, but she remained haunted by Matthew’s murder. October Mourning, a novel in verse, is her deeply felt response to the events of that tragic day. Using her poetic imagination, the author creates fictitious monologues from various points of view, including the fence Matthew was tied to, the stars that watched over him, the deer that kept him company, and Matthew himself. More than a decade later, this stunning cycle of sixty-eight poems serves as an illumination for readers too young to remember, and as a powerful, enduring tribute to Matthew Shepard’s life.

This entry was posted on October 1, 2012. 1 Comment