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Lauren Adams

About Lauren Adams

Lauren Adams teaches English and ELL at Natick High School and adolescent literature at the Harvard Graduate School of Education. Formerly a Senior Editor for The Horn Book Magazine, she regularly contributes book reviews.

Review of Burn Baby Burn

medina_burn baby burn

Burn Baby Burn by Meg Medina High School   Candlewick   308 pp. 3/16   978-0-7636-7467-0   $17.99   g This vividly evoked coming-of-age story is set against actual events in 1977 New York City, when tensions rose throughout a city enduring an oppressive heat wave, culminating in the historic blackout of July 13th. Seventeen-year-old Nora López faces an insecure […]

Last class | Class #6, 2016


While different in content and audience, both books this week take an honest look at mistake-making and forgiveness. Rebecca Stead explores dearly held friendships at a time of tremendous growth and change (seventh grade!). In his confessional memoir for older readers, Jack Gantos opens up about a disastrous adolescent decision that ultimately leads to his […]

Hole in My Life | Class #6, 2016

Hole in My Life

A beloved author for children, Jack Gantos takes a risk in revealing his naïve involvement in drug smuggling and subsequent prison time as a young man. Is there value in engaging so honestly with young adult readers over controversial topics? How might they react to this work of nonfiction?

Goodbye Stranger | Class #6, 2016

stead_goodbye stranger

Stead seems to really get this age group, changing relationships, and the time when the wrong move can seem like the end of the world. How does she balance the drama of this experience with respect and care for her characters and readers?

Illustrated books | Class #5, 2016


This week’s class (March 1, 2016) focuses on visual literacy: pictures in young adult literature, in works of both fiction and nonfiction. The prompts below address the role of these books in the classroom; you might also respond to the interplay of text and pictures (or wordlessness), or to whatever engages you most about these […]

Two picture books | Class #5, 2016


     The Arrival by Shaun Tan (Scholastic, 2007) The Wall: Growing Up Behind the Iron Curtain by Peter Sís  (Farrar, 2007) Though not the typical purview of adolescents, sophisticated picture books such as these offer rich rewards for readers/viewers with an experienced eye. Consider prior knowledge older students can bring to these works and connections […]

Three graphic novels | Class #5, 2016


    Boxers and Saints by Gene Luen Yang (First Second, 2013) The One Summer by Mariko Tamiki and Jillian Tamaki (First Second 2014) While teens have been devouring graphic novels, or comics (as Gene Luen Yang calls all such works) for years, they are also enjoying a surge of interest and attention from critics and […]

Fantasy and science fiction | Class #4, 2016


This week’s topic is “Beyond the World We Know” — a category that encompasses an extensive range of books, from magical realism to science fiction to the far away places of imaginary worlds. Jane Langton’s classic piece on fantasy from the 1973 Horn Book, “The Weak Place in the Cloth” provides an apt and lovely […]

Feed | Class #4, 2016


At first perusal, M.T. Anderson’s Feed is an entertaining tale of privileged futuristic teens who spend spring break on the moon. Their carelessness about the environment, their pitiful lack of knowledge, and technology-induced overstimulation seems so exaggerated as to invite easy laughter. Not far into the book, however, we start to recognize every aspect of […]

Far Far Away | Class #4, 2016

far far away

Folk and fairy tales have long been fodder for writers, who re-tell, borrow, fracture, and invert the original stories in their own. I would suggest that Tom McNeal bends the relationship between fairy tale and novel in a new way in his suspenseful tale Far Far Away. What do others think about blending of new […]