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2 New YA Novels

Posted by in Book Review

I loved 16 yr. old Josie’s voice in this wonderful realistic fiction novel. She is genius smart but struggles a bit with social/emotional communication. Josie speaks the native language of her older sister, Kate, as well as her best friend, Stu. But she has to work hard to translate the language of her fellow high school and college students, of beautiful girls and break-up boys. Josie faces two major struggles in the book. First, when Kate gets engaged to a guy that Josie dislikes, Josie starts a campaign to break them up. For the first time in her life, her native sister language becomes a foreign one. Second, Josie attempts to figure out the language of romantic love. Much is lost in translation along the way. Josie is quirky and earnest, prickly and dear. I just loved her. A bonus is that the story takes place in Bexley, OH, just around the city corner from where I live. 


Another realistic fiction novel that I just finished is Trouble, by Non Pratt, first published in Great Britain. Hannah is 15 yrs. old, pregnant, and she can’t tell her family who the father of the baby is. Aaron has transferred to her school to escape a traumatic past. Each needs a friend, and they slowly begin to find one in each other. The chapters go back and forth between Hannah and Aaron’s narration. All of the secondary characters are well-developed and interesting. I really enjoyed reading this coming-of-age novel.


Tagged in: Young Adult

Peanut Butter Searches for a Friend

Posted by in Book Review

This new picturebook (Philomel, 2014) is just pure fun! Terry Border offers a fresh take on an old story of moving and making new friends through his unique manipulation of 3D objects.

Peanut Butter, a character literally made out of bread, peanut butter, and wire, has just moved to town and doesn’t have a single friend. The story follows Peanut Butter as, soccer ball in hand; he explores his new neighborhood in search of a friend. But no one wants to play with him.

Hamburger is too busy walking “the dogs,” which are hot dogs on leashes. Hilarious!

Every time Peanut Butter meets a possible new friend, he recites the same rhyme, substituting the new food character at the end:

            “Hello, I’m new here, and I’d like to play

            Maybe now, maybe later – or even all day

            I’ll make you chuckle deep down in your belly

            And we’ll go together like Peanut Butter and…


From Cupcake, who plays in a sandbox filled with rainbow sprinkles, to Meatball, who jumps rope with a piece of spaghetti, poor Peanut Butter’s overtures are rejected by each new food character.

Until finally…you guessed it…he meets Jelly, whose name just happens to rhyme perfectly with “belly!” The two friends play soccer together, and soon the rest of the food characters join them.

The humor is slap-stick funny. French Fries can’t play because he conveniently remembers: “I’m supposed to help Hamburger with his hot dogs, and I need to catch up!” Hah…catsup! 

Terry Border’s art is just amazing! The photographs of the 3D objects are crystal clear. I admire his ability to take some pieces of food and wire and transform them into picturebook characters.

I read a fascinating interview with Border on Dr. Dana Sheridan’s blog: “Pop Goes the Page,” posted on August 15, 2014. I learned that Terry Border started his Bent Objects project in 2006. He adds wire to ordinary objects to create characters, and then he poses and photographs them.

To learn more about this creative author/artist, visit his website and blog. His website features clever book covers depicting Peanut Butter taking over beloved children’s books, such as: Go, Bread. Go! The front cover features Peanut Butter driving a car instead of P.D. Eastman’s dog. Border has two book collections out featuring his bent objects.

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This book would pair well with artist and storyteller Rebecca Dudley’s wordless picturebook: Hank Finds an Egg. Dudley creates all of the objects photographed in the book by hand. Her new book, Hank has a Dream, is due out this fall.

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Tagged in: Picturebooks