Those happy golden years


Raymond Bial, well-known author of nonfiction for children (Ellis Island: Coming to the Land of Liberty; Tenement: Immigrant Life on the Lower East Side; Amish Home; Frontier Home), has just published a novel, one “intended primarily for adults,” according to the promotional copy on the back of the (attractive) paperback. Set in small-town 1959 Indiana […]

“Magic most foul”?

darker still

I admit, with a subtitle like “A Novel of Magic Most Foul,” I had to resist the temptation to mock this book outright.  Thankfully, Leanna Renee Hieber’s novel Darker Still (Sourcebooks, November) offers a bit more substance than this melodramatic teaser of a subtitle. In it, Natalie Stewart, a mute Victorian-era teenager, chronicles the supernatural […]

Fighting in the Shade

fighting in the shade

I still recall fondly the female protagonists of teen “chick lit” and coming-of-age stories I read in high school. On a given day I might feel as tormented by love and teenage awkwardness as Mia Thermopolis (Meg Cabot’s The Princess Diaries) or lonely and isolated like Melinda Sordino (Laurie Halse Anderson’s Speak). These were gals […]

Dogs just wanna be existential


Glenn Eichler, creator of MTV’s Daria, brings that series’s wry, witty tone to his new graphic novel, Mush! Sled Dogs with Issues (First Second, December). From the cover, which features a sled dog caught licking itself, it’s clear this book isn’t going to be pretty. Mush! is harsh, blunt, and rather philosophical. The sled dogs […]

Food for thought

hunger games

In a few short months, you’re bound to hear the sound of thousands of teenage girls stripping posters of Twilight franchise stars Robert Pattinson and Taylor Lautner from their bedroom walls in favor of Josh Hutcherson and Liam Hemsworth. Don’t recognize the latter names? You will. Hutcherson (The Kids Are All Right) and Hemsworth (of […]

A keeper


Amanda Cockrell’s What We Keep Is Not Always What Will Stay (Flux, June) begins with fifteen-year-old protagonist Angela Arnaz’s disclaimer, “I am not a religious fanatic.” Angie confesses she regularly talks to a statue of St. Felix—and then the statue miraculously seems to come to life and offers advice. Is grubby Felix the saint incarnate, […]

Serial thriller


Dreams of the Dead (Bloomsbury, 2009) kicks off Thomas Randall’s original paperback trilogy The Waking with a killer first line: “Akane Murakami died for a boy she did not love.” After moving to Japan’s Miyazu City with her recently widowed father, American high school student Kara befriends the sister of murdered schoolgirl Akane. When their […]

All steamed up

corsets and clockwork

As my friend and fellow blogger observed not long ago, “steam is so hot right now.”  This year has seen a mind-boggling number of steampunk-themed events in the northeast alone: International Steampunk City, which took over the town of Waltham for a weekend; a book tour for The Steam­punk Bible; an exhibit on steampunk aesthetic […]


judy moody goes to hollywood

Get out your pink boa and sunglasses! This past Friday the movie Judy Moody and the NOT Bummer Summer, based on the bestselling book series by author Megan McDonald and illustrator Peter H. Reynolds, opened in theaters. Whether or not you had a chance to see it in the theaters this past weekend, here are […]

Wild rumpus

everything butt art

I can’t draw. You wouldn’t want me on your Pictionary team. I also have a fifteen-month-old, so tushy humor is big right now. For these reasons, Brian Snyder and Alexis Moniello’s Everything Butt Art at the Zoo (Madbrook, May) caught my eye. “What can you draw with a butt? Everything!” Starting with a flattened-looking W […]