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Noggin: Quotes for an Unexpected Life

Posted by in Book Review

I’m joining Bookshelf Fantasies for Thursday Quotables.

Noggin, John Corey Whaley’s National Book Award finalist, is one of my favorite YA reads of 2014. 

My journal is overflowing with quotes from this amazing book, but the following is my favorite:

“I want to tell you a story about how you can suddenly wake up to find yourself living a life you were never supposed to live. It could happen to you, just like it happened to me…” (p. 2).

If you suddenly find your life taking an unexpected turn, this book is a must read. I hope it brings you a measure of comfort, as it did me.


After being frozen for five years due to a diagnosis of terminal cancer, 16-year-old Travis wakes up with his head attached to another guy’s body. The rest of his family and friends have continued to live their lives, but Travis feels like only a few minutes have passed. This work of speculative fiction reads like a realistic novel, so don’t let the sci-fi element keep you from giving it a try.

Whaley won the Printz Award for Excellence in Young Adult Literature for his book: Where Things Come Back. Check out his website.


Tagged in: Young Adult

Mind-Blowing Books

Posted by in Book List

I’m joining A Month of Favorites today for my list of “Top 10 Books That Blew My Mind in 2014.” I’ve got lists for both chapter books and picturebooks because I can’t limit myself to just ten!



Jandy Nelson’s I’ll Give you the Sun blew my mind because the characters, story, writing, and book magic broke my heart wide open. Read it. Really. Just trust me. And then read The Sky is Everywhere. Jandy is the best of YA literature.


Andrew Smith’s 100 Sideways Miles blew my mind because who comes up with the idea to have the main character’s mother killed by a falling horse? I got to meet the author at NCTE and tell him how much my daughter and I loved this book (I had to gush about Stick, too).


 Abby Hanlon’s Dory Fantasmagory blew my mind because I finally found the perfect third grade read of 2014. They’re really hard to find, and this one is perfection. Full of humor, quirky and lovable characters, fun illustrations, and spot on sibling relations, this was a stand-out for me.


Dana Alison Levy’s The Misadventures of the Family Fletcher blew my mind because reading about the crazy antics of a family that includes two dads and four adopted kids was a first for me. Family interactions were the focus, and they are fun, funny, frantic, and fearless.


Katherine Rundell’s Cartwheeling in Thunderstorms blew my mind because it’s like a lovely mix of A Little Princess and Rooftoppers (by the author).

girls like us

Gail Giles’s Girls Like Us blew my mind because the voices of the two girls who are placed together to live after graduating from their high school’s special education program are so clear and compelling.

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Megan Jean Sovern’s The Meaning of Maggie blew my mind because I want to vote for Maggie for president in the future. She’s whip smart and heart smart.


Lisa Graff’s Absolutely Almost blew my mind because she introduced me to an ordinary character. We  often read about extraordinary characters, so I was delighted to meet just a regular kid who never felt great at anything. I wish Calista had been my babysitter!


Maya Van Wagenen’s memoir Popular: Vintage Wisdom for a Modern Geek blew my mind because the author is just 15 years old, and she’s an amazing writer! As the mother of two teenage daughters, I think about the social construct of popularity quite often, and Maya gave me some compelling things to think about. This writer is wise beyond her years.


Anthony Doerr’s All the Light we Cannot See is blowing my mind. Although I haven’t finished it yet, it’s the kind of read like The Book Thief that I want to savor because I know it’s going to break my heart and then live there forever.


The Promise

Nicola Davies and Laura Carlin’s The Promise blew my mind because it took me a year to find it! Even though it was published in 2013, it didn’t become available in my library, which is top in the nation, until 2014. This is a big departure for one of my favorite informational writers. If you want a picturebook that explores symbolism in a powerful and meaningful way, look this book up. If you need a read aloud for over burdened school teachers, this is a gem!


Richard Byrne’s This book just ate my dog! blew my mind because I got to witness first graders’ minds being blown by this very clever book!

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Daniel Miyares’s Pardon Me! blew my mind because the ending is subversive and wholly unexpected.


 Princesse Camcam’s Fox’s Garden blew my mind because it is an exquisite wordless picturebook. 


 Elise Gravel’s The Slug and The Rat blew my mind because her Disgusting Critters informational series is weird and wacky and wildly appealing to readers.


Jen Bryant and Melissa Sweet’s Roget and his Thesaurus blew my mind because Melissa Sweet’s collage art NEVER FAILS to blow my mind.


Mac Barnett and Jon Klassen’s Sam and Dave Dig a Hole blew my mind because I got to hear the illustrator talk about the book. He is a mind-blowing artist! 


Nicola Davies and Emily Sutton’s Tiny: The Invisible World of Microbes blew my mind because that’s what Nicola Davies does to mine. 


Lita Judge’s Born in the Wild: Baby Mammals and their Parents blew my mind because of the unique organization based on what all baby mammals need to survive.


Marianne Dubuc’s The Lion and the Bird (translated by Claudia Z. Bedrick) blew my mind because of the beautiful story of friendship told within the covers of this lovely picturebook.

Tagged in: Children's Novels Picturebooks Young Adult