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Juana & Lucas
Author and Illustrator: Juana Medina
Expected Publication September 27th, 2016 by Candlewick Press

Summary: Juana loves many things — drawing, eating Brussels sprouts, living in Bogotá, Colombia, and especially her dog, Lucas, the best amigo ever. She does not love wearing her itchy school uniform, solving math problems, or going to dance class. And she especially does not love learning the English. Why is it so important to learn a language that makes so little sense? But when Juana’s abuelos tell her about a special trip they are planning—one that Juana will need to speak English to go on—Juana begins to wonder whether learning the English might be a good use of her time after all. Hilarious, energetic, and utterly relatable, Juana will win over los corazones — the hearts — of readers everywhere in her first adventure, presented by namesake Juana Medina.

Review: Early chapter books are one of my book gaps, and I have been trying, over the last few years, to read as many of them as I can, so I was very happy to have the chance to read Medina’s Juana & Lucas. One thing I have noticed as I read these beloved early chapter books are that although the characters may be diverse in some aspects of their culture/identity, most of the characters are not diverse in their ethnicity. However, now here comes Juana (and Bea Garcia!). She is a character that everyone reading will relate to in some way, and now Latina/Latino students or students learning English will have a character to relate to in early chapter books. 

In addition to the new diversity in this group of books, Juana & Lucas is also just a funny and sweet book about a young girl who has to learn that working hard to learn or be able to do something new is worth the work. This theme will definitely resonate with so many students!

I also want to add that I didn’t know much about Columbia when I started, but when Juana starts talking about Bogotá, you can hear her love of the city come through the pages, so I went to Wikipedia right away to learn more about the city, and I am in love! I told Jim I want to retire there. It is beautiful, and their temperature varies from 43 to 66 degrees! That is the perfect weather! Now, I have to go through the same thing as Juana and learn Spanish, so I am ready to go in 25 or so years 🙂

 Teachers’ Tools for Navigation: Juana’s story will be an asset for writing, reading, Spanish, and ELL classes. Medina’s writing can be used as a mentor text for voice and descriptive language, the story is perfect for reading strategies such as context clues and character analysis, the book includes Spanish words throughout the story that aren’t always defined, and Juana is struggling with learning English. All of these things make Juana’s story one that is a perfect addition to all classrooms.

Discussion Questions: How did the character pages help you learn about the different characters in the book vs. if they had not been included? (Class activity: have students complete a character page like Juana’s about members of their family, characters in different books, or a character before they write a narrative.); How does Juana overcome the struggles she has with English at the beginning of the book?; How does each character throughout help Juana grow as a students and person?; Why do you think the author chose to have some words in different size and bold font?; How did the author help you “hear” Juana’s voice while you were reading?; How were you able to determine the meaning of the Spanish words throughout the book?

Flagged Passages: “Mami is the most important person in my life. Most. Important. And here’s why: Besides being the best of moms, Mami is really good at taking care of plants. She loves all plants, even the ones with the complicated names I can’t pronounce…” (p. 31)

Early Sketch for Juana & Lucas (http://juanamedina.tumblr.com/post/139399423961/early-sketch-for-juana-lucas)

Early Sketch for Juana & Lucas (http://juanamedina.tumblr.com/post/139399423961/early-sketch-for-juana-lucas)

Read This If You Loved: Bea Garcia: My Life in Pictures by Deborah Zemke, Amelia’s Notebook series by Marissa Moss, Judy Moody series by Megan McDonald

Recommended For:

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Nonfiction Wednesday

Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday is hosted by Kid Lit Frenzy and was started to help promote the reading of nonfiction texts. Most Wednesdays, we will be participating and will review a nonfiction text (though it may not always be a picture book).
Be sure to visit Kid Lit Frenzy and see what other nonfiction books are shared this week!


Antsy Adams: Ansel Adams, A Life in Nature
Author: Cindy Jenson-Elliott
Illustrator: Christy Hale
Published September 6th, 2016 by Henry Holt and Co.

Goodreads Summary: You may be familiar with Adams’s iconic black-and-white nature photographs. But do you know about the artist who created these images?

As a child, Ansel Adams just couldn’t sit still. He felt trapped indoors and never walked anywhere–he ran. Even when he sat, his feet danced. But in nature, Ansel felt right at home. He fell in love with the gusting gales of the Golden Gate, the quiet whisper of Lobos Creek, the icy white of Yosemite Valley, and countless other remarkable natural sights.

From his early days in San Francisco to the height of his glory nationwide, this book chronicles a restless boy’s path to becoming an iconic nature photographer.

Kellee’s Review: As a child of a museum director and a photographer, Ansel Adams has been a name that I’ve known since I was quite young. He was one of the first artists whose work I could identify on my own. I was fascinated by his photographs–almost spooky in their lights and shadows but beautiful to where you cannot take your eyes off of them.

I loved learning about Ansel as a child. His story rang true as a teacher especially because there are so many kids like Ansel who are not made for the traditional setting of school yet are brilliant and should be educated a bit differently than the norm. Cindy Jenson-Elliott and Christy Hale do a very good job at showing and telling how Ansel viewed the world. With detailed illustrations, onomatopoeias, and a rhythmic texts, Ansel’s story is told in such an authentic way that really takes the reader into his brilliant mind.

Ricki’s Review: I’ve heard the name Ansel Adams, but I never connected it to the beautiful photography. I am so glad to have read this book because it made me aware of an important man that I didn’t know much about! As a mom of a son that is always itching to go outdoors, this was a great book to read to him. He felt very connected to Ansel! It also taught him all of the lessons he learns while he is outside! It is great to learn about who this man was as a child and what his life was like when he was growing up. 

Teachers’ Tools for Navigation: Ansel’s story fits into art, history, and language arts. Ansel Adams is a very significant artist of the 20th century and his story could be told within the context of art history or American history. The historical aspect in addition to the imagery, figurative language, and rhythm makes this text perfect for the classroom.

Discussion Questions: How did Ansel’s life change after his dad pulled him out of school? How did this choice affect the rest of his life?; How did Ansel’s personality differ from what the school expected of him?; Who do you think had the biggest influence on Ansel’s life?; Ansel was able to do what he loved for a living. What do you love to do? How could you make a living doing it?

Flagged Passages: 


Read This If You Love: Art/photography, The Noisy Paintbox by Barb Rosenstock, The Museum by Susan Verde, Dorothea’s Eyes by Barb Rosenstock, Photos Framed by Ruth ThomsonThe Sky Painter by Margarita Engle, On a Beam of Light by Jennifer Berne

Recommended For: 

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**Thank you to Cindy and Morgan at Macmillan for providing copies for review!**

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top ten tuesday

Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created at The Broke and the Bookish. The feature was created because The Broke and Bookish are particularly fond of lists (as are we!). Each week a new Top Ten list topic is given and bloggers can participate.

 Today’s Topic: Books on Ricki’s Fall TBR List

I should add that I’ve already read some incredible ARCs that will be released this fall. For the purposes of this list, I am including books that I haven’t read yet!

1. The Sun Is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon

the sun is also a star

I love Nicola Yoon, so I am thrilled that this book is coming out. I can’t wait to get my hands on it!

2. What Light by Jay Asher

what light

I am intrigued by this book, which seems like a complicated love story. It looks like there may be a twist. I am excited to see Jay Asher has this solo novel coming out! I am sure that it will be very popular.

3. Girl in Pieces by Kathleen Glasgow

girl in pieces

I just started listening to this book in the car. It is very dark, and I am interested to see where it goes.

4. Wirewalker by Mary Lou Hall

wire walker

Ever since I received this book in the mail, I have been excited to read it. I had a few other projects to attend to first, but I think I will be reading it within the next few weeks, for sure!

5. Still Life in Tornado by A.S. King

still life in tornado

To put it simply, A.S. King makes me very happy. Her books never disappoint in their cleverness. I am excited to read this one.

6. We Found a Hat by Jon Klassen

we found a hat

I just about leaped for joy when I saw this third book in the picture book series is coming out soon.

7. Holding Up the Universe by Jennifer Niven

holding up the universe

I absolutely loved Niven’s last book, so I will most certainly be reading this one.

8. My Sister Rosa by Justine Larbalestier

my sister rosa

I will be reading this book in bright daylight. I am worried it will be scary, but I am so excited to read it.

9. It Looks Like This by Rafi Mittlefehldt

it looks like this

I have heard this book is quite good, so it is at the top of my list!

10. Every Hidden Thing by Kenneth Oppel

every hidden thing

Kenneth Oppel, I will read anything you write. Because every book has been incredible.

What books are on your Fall TBR list?



IMWAYR 2015 logo

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? From Picture Books to YA!

It’s Monday! What are you Reading? is a meme started by Sheila at Book Journeys and now hosted by Kathryn at The Book Date. It is a great way to recap what you read and/or reviewed the previous week and to plan out your reading and reviews for the upcoming week. It’s also a great chance to see what others are reading right now…you just might discover the next “must-read” book!

Kellee and Jen, of Teach Mentor Texts, decided to give It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? a kidlit focus. If you read and review books in children’s literature – picture books, chapter books, middle grade novels, young adult novels, anything in the world of kidlit – join us! We love this meme and think you will, too.

We encourage everyone who participates to support the blogging community by visiting at least three of the other book bloggers that link up and leave comments for them.


Last Week’s Posts

**Click on any picture/link to view the post**

top ten tuesday blood-brother truth or dare Olivia Decoded nickel hi res cover

Tuesday: Ten Audiobooks We Love

Wednesday: Blog Tour with Review!: Blood Brother: Jonathan Daniels and his Sacrifice for Civil Rights by Rich Wallace and Sandra Neil Wallace

Thursday: Truth or Dare by Barbara Dee

Friday: Blog Tour with Review and Giveaway!: Olivia Decoded by Vivi Barnes

Sunday: Author Guest Post!: “The Complexity of the Teenage Experience” by Robert Wilder, Author of Nickel


 Last Week’s Journeys

First, I want to apologize for not being good about visiting your blogs or even commenting here at UR. School has been quite busy, and I have not had much free time outside of keeping up with what I need to do already, and now my family is coming to visit for a couple of different weekends,. I know this is not an excuse, but it is a reason. Please know that I appreciate every single one of you that take part in IMWAYR, and I will get back to commenting better soon!

pug-meets-pig natumi around-america tiny-creatures antsy-adams

First, I read these five picture books (four nonfiction), and I loved them all so much that I will definitely be reviewing them (and two of them are already scheduled for this week!).


Musnet is a graphic novel about a mouse that is searching for a home only to find one in Monet’s house. I love the premise (mix of history, fantasy, and art!).


I reviewed Blood Brother this week. If you missed it, please go read about this important book!

see how they run

Oh man, guys! This book ends with as much of a cliffhanger, if not more of one, than the first book! And now I have to wait until 2017 to read the third! This will be a tough wait!


I finished Brendan Kiely’s newest YA book also. Love is a language that is spoken in so many different ways. Kiely’s book is a love poem to forever love, first love, family love, questioning love, love of music, love of words, and the struggle of love. Beautiful and touching and will fill your heart. I cannot wait to talk to Brendan about this one at ALAN.


black like me

It took me a few weeks, but I just finished Black Like Me by John Howard Griffin. It is a short nonfiction text that you could read in one sitting, but I felt it was important to read it slowly to take in the magnitude of the text. I know many folks read this book in high school, and it was standard required reading in the 1970s-ish, so I wanted to be sure to read it. In case you aren’t familiar with the premise, John Howard Griffin was a man who decided to take medicine to turn his skin darker. He wanted to see what life was like as a Black man in the South. The book is his journal, recounting his experiences. I learned so much from the book, and I was disappointed that while much as changed, so much has not changed. Griffin’s comments still connect to incidents today. I loved the book and would recommend it highly.


I devoured Written in the Stars by Aisha Saeed. Once I started it, I simply couldn’t put it down. This is a phenomenal book that explores arranged and forced marriages. The topic reminded me a bit of Sold by Patricia McCormick, but the two books are very different in their own ways. I highly recommend this book, as it gave me a glimpse into a world that I know little about.


This Week’s Expeditions


After finishing See How They Run, I decided to give Echo another chance. The last time I tried to listen to it, I just couldn’t get into it, but this time I think the prior knowledge of the first 45 minutes or so allowed me to understand it and get more into it. I am now getting quite into it, and I love the production.


I also am going to read Honestly Ben which is the sequel to Openly StraightOpenly Straight was an Walden Honor the year I was chair, so I loved Rafe’s story! It will be quite interesting to go back into his world but have it narrated by Ben.


This is my last IMWAYR for a little while. I am going to be taking eight weeks for maternity leave. While I won’t be resting (I am going to focus my work on my dissertation), I will still continue to read. I plan to return with a lot of great books to share. I will be sure to share the best of the best! I will miss you all and wish you a wonderful eight weeks!


Upcoming Week’s Posts

top ten tuesday antsy-adams kids of appetite pug-meets-pig

Tuesday: Books on Ricki’s Fall TBR List

Wednesday: Antsy Ansel: Ansel Adams, A Life in Nature by Cindy Jenson-Elliott

Thursday: Kids of Appetite by David Arnold

Friday: Blog Tour with Giveaway and Review!: Pug Meets Pig by Sue Lowell Gallion

Sunday: Author Guest Post!

 So, what are you reading?

Link up below and go check out what everyone else is reading. Please support other bloggers by viewing and commenting on at least 3 other blogs. If you tweet about your Monday post, tag the tweet with #IMWAYR!

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“The Complexity of the Teenage Experience”

About a dozen years ago, I brought the writer Tom Perrotta to the school where I teach. Tom’s novel Little Children had just been published to much acclaim so, in addition to assigning the work to my eleventh graders, I offered to lead a book group with parents. Since I work at an independent school, I’m fortunate enough to have the freedom of teaching contemporary literature in addition to inviting authors to visit my classes. Some fairly controversial works have entered my syllabus, but I was very surprised at some of the parents’ reaction to Little Children. They were agitated by the extramarital affairs in the novel and questioned whether the book should be read by their own (not so little) children. I realized that since this novel was set in a community not unlike ours, it hit a bit too close to home. I asked Tom to address the parents, and he offered them the story of his own reading life and how, by tackling challenging fiction, he was able to develop a relationship with his own mind. He didn’t defensively argue that most internet-fluid teenagers had access to far racier material. Instead, he highlighted the benefits of thoughtful art to young minds.

As a teacher and a writer, I think often of Tom’s talk. We are in such a fearful and reactionary time that I worry that complex and challenging reading can be easily reduced to trigger warnings or quotes pulled out of context. Many people don’t give the young mind the benefit of the doubt and allow apprentice readers to decide if a book is right for them. In my twenty-five years of teaching, I’ve never seen a book do any harm. In fact, I’ve noticed how literature has ignited teenagers or connected to a voice deep inside a boy or girl. Every year, I teach Junot Diaz’s The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, and I usually get one or two parent complaints. I offer to meet with the parent to discuss Diaz’s novel and the possibility of assigning a different text only after the parent has finished reading Oscar Wao in its entirety. In the nine or so years I’ve been teaching Oscar, I have yet to have one of those meetings.

I’ve been thinking about this topic a lot since I wrote NICKEL. I really wanted to capture the truth around the characters of Coy and Monroe and not worry about trigger warnings or censorship. I have spent thousands of hours around teenagers and read tens of thousands of pages of their work, and I didn’t want to simplify or diminish the complexity in the teenage experience. Not all of the thoughts, words, and actions of any individual are safe, harmless, or politically correct. We need to look at the whole of any book the same way we look at the whole child. Anything less would be detrimental to their identity and our own understanding of the world.

nickel hi res cover

About the Book: A STORY ABOUT LOVE, LOSS, AND LOYALTY. Being a teenager is hard enough without your mother in rehab and your slightly inept stepfather doing his best not to screw things up. But at least, Coy has Monroe. Coy is a quirky teenage boy and his best friend Monroe is a girl who is just as odd and funny and obsessed with 80’s culture as he is. So when Monroe comes down with a mysterious illness, his inner turmoil only grows. As Monroe gets sicker and Coy gets a girlfriend from another social crowd, the balance tips and Coy has to figure out how not to give up on his friend, his family, or himself. Nickel is a hilarious, heartbreaking and honest portrayal of the complicated world of being a teenager today.


About the Author: Robert Wilder is the author of two critically acclaimed essay collections, Tales From The Teachers’ Lounge andDaddy Needs A Drink, both published by Delacorte Press. His young adult novel, Nickel, was published by Leaf Storm Press in 2016.

A teacher for twenty-five years, Wilder has earned numerous awards and fellowships, including the inaugural Innovations in Reading Prize by the National Book Foundation. He has published essays in NewsweekDetails, SalonParentingCreative Nonfiction, plus numerous anthologies and has been a commentator for NPR’s Morning Edition. Wilder lives in Santa Fe, New Mexico.

Website. www.robertwilder.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/RobertTWilder/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/RobertTWilder
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/robert.t.wilder/

Thank you Robert for this post on respecting the teenagers in our life!

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Olivia Twisted

Title: Olivia Twisted
Author: Vivi Barnes
Published November 5th, 2013 by Entangled: Teen

Summary: Tossed from foster home to foster home, Olivia’s seen a lot in her sixteen years. She’s hardened, sure, though mostly just wants to fly under the radar until graduation. But her natural ability with computers catches the eye of Z, a mysterious guy at her new school. Soon, Z has brought Liv into his team of hacker elite?break into a few bank accounts, and voila, he drives a motorcycle. Follow his lead, and Olivia might even be able to escape from her oppressive foster parents. As Olivia and Z grow closer, though, so does the watchful eye of Bill Sykes, Z’s boss. And he’s got bigger plans for Liv…

Thanks to Z, Olivia’s about to get twisted.

Olivia Decoded

Title: Olivia Decoded
Author: Vivi Barnes
Published September 6th, 2016 by Entangled: Teen

Summary: This isn’t my Jack, who once looked at me like I was his world. The guy who’s occupied the better part of my mind for eight months.

This is Z, criminal hacker with a twisted agenda and an arsenal full of anger.

I’ve spent the past year trying to get my life on track. New school. New friends. New attitude. But old flames die hard, and one look at Jack—the hacker who enlisted me into his life and his hacking ring, stole my heart, and then left me—and every memory, every moment, every feeling comes rushing back. But Jack’s not the only one who’s resurfaced in my life. And if I can’t break through Z’s defenses and reach the old Jack, someone will get hurt…or worse.


About the Author: Vivi Barnes was raised on a farm in East Texas where her theater-loving mom and cowboy dad gave her a unique perspective on life. Now living in the magic and sunshine of Orlando, Florida, she divides her time writing, working, goofing off with her husband and three kids, and avoiding dirty dishes.

Find her on her blogs: http://vivibarnes.com/ and http://4chicks.wordpress.com/

Find her on twitter: https://twitter.com/ViviBarnes

Find her on facebook: http://www.facebook.com/vivibarnes.author

Check out http://www.oliviatwisted.com/ for the Olivia Twisted official trailer!

Review: I was very lucky to be one of the early readers for Olivia Twisted (Vivi’s children actually go to the school I teach at! Check out the discussion questions at the back of the book, too–I wrote those!), and I fell in love with Liv and Z. I loved how Vivi retold Oliver Twist yet made the story completely hers at the same time. However, anyone that read the book had one big question looming over them: What happened between the end of the story and the epilogue?!?!? It is something that I am sure Vivi was asked over and over again, and Olivia Decoded is the answer, and it is a GOOD answer. I read this book in one sitting, and I couldn’t put it down. I had to know what happened because even though you knew what happened because of the epilogue in Olivia Twisted, how it got to that situation was a big mystery.

Excerpt: “Wow, who gave you that?”

“My grandfather. He left it on my car seat this morning.”

“Oh, boo. I thought maybe you had a secret admirer or something.” I try not to smile at her obvious disappointment. Emerson’s been on me to date for months now. She knows I had someone back in Richmond who was special, but only that we broke it off before I moved here. She doesn’t know anything else about Jack. No one does, because what would I say? The last guy I dated is a criminal, and the last time I saw him was right after we got kidnapped by his horrible boss and almost died trying to escape. That’d go over really well.

“I don’t know, what do you think?” Emerson breaks into my thoughts as we walk down the hallway to our lockers.

“About what?”

She sighs. “Where Kade’s taking me tonight. Girl, you are not with it today, are you? Are you doing anything tonight?”

“My grandfather’s taking me to dinner.”

“Sweet. Not so romantic, but sweet.”

I smile. “Yes, he’s sweet. But a little over the top on gifts sometimes.” Even after eight months of living the wealthy life, I’d be happier if he gave me a gift card to a bookstore instead of extravagant jewelry I rarely wear.

My phone starts buzzing, and I pull it from my pocket. Grandfather’s text reads: What gift?

I frown, typing, The bracelet you left in my car. I snap a quick picture of the bracelet on my wrist and send it to him. Maybe his text was a hint to send a picture, though I doubt it. He’s usually pretty direct about things.

“What’s up?” Emerson asks.

“Looks like Grandfather forgot he left me the bracelet.” But even as I say it, it doesn’t sound right. He’s one of the sharpest people I’ve ever known, and he runs a financial institution.

“Maybe he gave it to one of his staff to put in your car.” Her voice has the usual bitter tone whenever she’s thinking of her parents. They’re hardly ever around, and when they are, they don’t pay much attention to her.

“Yeah, you’re probably right.” I don’t believe that, though. Even though it’s possible Mrs. Bedwin did put it there, I doubt it. Grandfather is the type to handle things himself when it comes to me. But Emerson’s parents travel so much for their business that they often let their staff handle things like birthdays and other events they think aren’t important. So as grateful as I am that Grandfather’s always there for me, I don’t like to rub that in Emerson’s face.

“Maybe you really do have a secret admirer,” she says hopefully.

I roll my eyes.“I doubt that.”

“Oh, really?” She stops in her tracks, her eyes fixed straight ahead. I follow her gaze, a sharp sense of dread creeping down my spine. A white rose is dangling from the vent in my locker.

A rose I know wasn’t placed there by my grandfather.

Discussion Questions: Why is Olivia so hesitant to date and make friends at her new school?; How does Olivia’s mom’s decisions affect how Olivia’s grandfather treats her?

Read This If You Loved: Olivia Twisted by Vivi Barnes, Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell, Loud Awake and Lost by Adele Griffin, Fingerprints of You by Kristen-Paige Madonia

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Make sure to not miss out on any of the stops on the blog tour!

September 12th

The Phantom Paragrapher – Review Book #2

The Book Beacon – Spotlight Post

September 13th

RoloPoloBookBlog – Spotlight Post

Roxy’s Book Reviews – Spotlight Post

September 14th

Tween 2 Teen Book Reviews – Author Interview

Folders Corners & Smudged Screens– Review Book #1

Book Lovers Life – Spotlight Post

September 15th

Becky on Books – Guest Post

Worth Reading It? – Review Book #1

September 16th

Archaeolibrarian – I Dig Good Books – Spotlight Post

Novel Knight – Spotlight

September 17th

Realm of the Sapphired Dragon – Review Book #2

Just One More Chapter – Spotlight Post

September 18th

Elizabeth Delana Rosa – Spotlight Post

Once Upon a Moonlight Review… – Review Book #2

Sleeps on Tables – Spotlight Post

September 19th

Books and Swoons – Review Book #2

Worth Reading It? – Review Book #2

Cozy Little Book Nook – Spotlight Post

September 20th

Crossroad Reviews – Review Book #2

The Reading Pile – Review Book #2

September 21st

Read Love Blog – Review Book #1

September 22nd

Pandora’s Books – Guest Post

YaReads – Author Interview

September 23rd

Unleashing Readers – Review Book #2

The Avid Reader – Review Book #1

September 24th

The Avid Reader – Review Book #2

Folders Corners & Smudged Screens – Review Book #2

September 25th

Read Love Blog – Review Book #2

Bookwormette – Author Interview

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**Thank you to Nichole at YAReads Blog Tours for setting up this tour!**

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truth or dare

Truth or Dare
Author: Barbara Dee
Published September 20th, 2016 by Aladdin

Summary: Lia’s four best friends have always been there for her, in good times and bad. It’s thanks to the loyal supportive friendship of Marley, Abi, Makayla, and Jules that Lia’s doing okay after her mom dies in a car crash. 

But the summer before seventh grade, Lia’s feeling out of sync with her friends. And after a vacation up in Maine, Lia returns home to find her friends…well, different. For one thing, they’re arguing more than ever. Also, they’re competing. And some of them are making her feel like a “late bloomer.”

When her friends launch into an extended game of Truth or Dare, Lia tells a lie about her summer just to keep up with them. Then she tells another lie. And another. Soon, it’s hard to remember what’s a lie and what isn’t. Friendships are threatened, boys are getting kissed (or note), and Lia’s wondering if there’s anyone to confide in.

In this funny, touching coming-of-age story, Lia learns that it’s possible to face the hardest truths–as long as you have the right people by your side.

Review: I haven’t read any Barbara Dee books until now, and I now see why so many of my middle school girls like her stories. The drama in Truth or Dare (sadly) feels so real to the girl drama I witness as a middle school teacher. Although parts may be a bit exaggerated a bit from the truth, it works to get the point across which I think is often needed when dealing with social situations in middle school to help the reader see the consequences. 

I also really liked the truth of Lia’s family, their grief, and the struggle between Lia’s aunt’s eccentricity and Lia’s family’s rigidity.

Teachers’ Tools for Navigation: Truth or Dare was written for middle grade girls. It is a story that will help them with so many transitioning issues when it comes to puberty and friendship and school. This is a must have for libraries and classrooms.

Discussion Questions: Why did Lia lie during Truth or Dare?; How did Lia’s Aunt Shelby change Lia’s life?; What are the signs of a bully?; Do you think bullying can be hereditary?; Why do you think girls compare themselves to other girls so much?; Which of Lia’s friends really cares for Lia as she is?; Why does Lia have collections? How do they help her?

Flagged Passages: “By ‘okay’ I’m not saying we weren’t sad about Mom because we were. I mean, we were incredibly sad. But Nate had his baseball team, and I had my friends, plus the constant hugs and attention of the Mom Squad. And whenever I felt jittery or lonesome at home, I’d pick up a book, or I’d sort through my collections. And time would pass–sometimes too much time–while I organized tiny things by color or size.

But especially at night, in the minutes before I drifted off to sleep, I’d feel a kind of dull ache in my chest, a missing-Mom ache. When I got that ache, I couldn’t distract myself with marbles or books. Or with anything else, for that matter. And more and more, especially lately, there were things I wish I could discuss with her–not with Dad, or Val, or anyone else.” (p. 23)

Read This If You Loved: The Summer I Saved the World…in 65 Days by Michele Weber Hurwitz, Still a Work in Progress by Jo Knowles, Camp Rolling Hills by Stacy Davidowitz, Cici Reno #MiddleSchoolMatchmaker by Kristina SpringerAudition & Subtraction by Amy Fellner Dominy, Drama by Raina Telgemeier

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