Review: My Life in Dioramas, by Tara Altebrando (May 2015)

The pitch: Kate has lived her entire life in the rambling, quirky old house everyone calls Big Red. When her parents tell her they have to move, she decides to fight back. The review: Time to ‘fess up: I cannot approach books about homes objectively. My family made a few … Continue reading

Review: The Summer Prince, by Alaya Dawn Johnson

Every five years the futuristic enclosed city of Palmares Tres, in what was Brazil, elects a summer king. He is beautiful and beloved — and at the end of his year, he is sacrificed to choose a new Queen. Best friends June and Gil have never questioned this custom until … Continue reading


Aren’t Guy Laramee’s sculptures beautiful? As usual, I found his artist’s statement to be almost impenetrably pretentious, but I do love the idea of books — the representation of knowledge, particularly older knowledge — eroding into ancient landscapes.

Becoming Naomi Leon, by Pam Munoz Ryan

Naomi and her little brother Owen are content living with their great-grandmother in a trailer park — Naomi carves soap into animal shapes, hangs out with the (clearly flaming, even though the text doesn’t say so explicitly) librarian at school, and watches Wheel of Fortune every night with Gram and … Continue reading

Cybils: The Plain Janes & Janes in Love, by Cecil Castellucci and Jim Rugg

(Janes in Love is the nominated book, but I went back and read The Plain Janes first, so I’ll review them together. It’s not necessary background, but it certainly helped.) PJ opens with a terrorist bomb going off in Metro City, killing a number of people, and injuring more — … Continue reading

Cybils: Emiko Superstar, by Mariko Tamaki and Steve Rolston

Emi was always kind of a geek by default, but this summer her geeky friends have headed off to a “young executives retreat.” Emi decides that’s not her scene, so she’s stuck at home in the Toronto ‘burbs, baby-sitting for her American neighbors, the Cutheberts. (The dad is big and … Continue reading