Thursday, December 29, 2011

Essay Contest for Aspiring Writers of YA/middle grade fiction

Win a literary agent or acclaimed author's feedback on your unpublished manuscript for young adult or middle grade readers.  This rare opportunity is being offered to the six winners of an essay contest recently announced by the literacy charity Book Wish Foundation.  See for full details.

You could win a manuscript critique from:

  • Laura Langlie, literary agent for Meg Cabot
  • Nancy Gallt, literary agent for Jeanne DuPrau
  • Brenda Bowen, literary agent and editor of Karen Hesse's Newbery Medal winner Out of the Dust
  • Ann M. Martin, winner of the Newbery Honor for A Corner of the Universe
  • Francisco X. Stork, winner of the Amelia Elizabeth Walden Award for The Last Summer of the Death Warriors
  • Cynthia Voigt, winner of the Newbery Medal for Dicey's Song and the Newbery Honor for A Solitary Blue

All that separates you from this prize is a 500-word essay about a short story in Book Wish Foundation's new anthology, What You Wish For.  Essays are due Feb. 1, 2012 and winners will be announced around Mar. 1, 2012.  If you win, you will have six months to submit the first 50 pages of your manuscript for critique (which means you can enter the contest even if you haven't finished, or started, your manuscript).  You can even enter multiple times, with essays about more than one of the contest stories, for a chance to win up to six critiques.

If you dream of being a published author, this is an opportunity you should not miss.  To enter, follow the instructions at

Good luck and best wishes,

Logan Kleinwaks
President, Book Wish Foundation

What You Wish For (ISBN 9780399254543, Putnam Juvenile, Sep. 15, 2011) is a collection of short stories and poems about wishes from 18 all-star writers: Meg Cabot, Jeanne DuPrau, Cornelia Funke, Nikki Giovanni, John Green, Karen Hesse, Ann M. Martin, Alexander McCall Smith, Marilyn Nelson, Naomi Shihab Nye, Joyce Carol Oates, Nate Powell, Sofia Quintero, Gary Soto, R.L. Stine, Francisco X. Stork, Cynthia Voigt, Jane Yolen.  With a Foreword by Mia Farrow.  Book Wish Foundation is donating 100% of its proceeds from the book to the UN Refugee Agency, UNHCR, to fund the development of libraries in Darfuri refugee camps in eastern Chad.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

War Horse by Michael Morpurgo (Guest Post by Kate Sutter)

***contains spoilers***

I am a High School American History teacher, and when I as approached about writing for the blog, I decided I wanted to pick something that was related to my content area.  I perused the school library one afternoon and, spotting the librarian’s Veterans Day display, was interested by Morpurgo’s War Horse.  After I started to read, I realized it was on the lower end of “young adult” but thought I would finish it anyway.

War Horse is a children’s fiction novel about World War I written by Michael Morpurgo in 1982, and it became a stage play in 2007.  It is being produced for the big screen by Steven Spielberg and is due to be released on Christmas 2011.  Since the movie will bring attention to the book, I felt an amateur review might be beneficial to at least someone. 

The book moves quickly and, and in most cases, lingers on few details after the opening chapters of Joey’s life on an English farm.  There are some issues that might give parents concern or children pause, but as with many heart-warming stories about animals, the happy ending may provoke a few tears of the good kind. 

The story opens at a horse auction in Britain where our narrator, a colt soon-to-be-named Joey, is separated from his mother when both are sold.  Purchased by a drunken farmer, he soon meets his new master, the farmer’s kindly teenaged son Albert.  At several points, Albert and his mother argue about the farmer’s drinking, the mood it puts him in, and the poor decisions he makes because of it.  On one occasion, the farmer comes to the barn drunk to talk to Joey, and frightened, Joey kicks him.  He’d made a bet with the neighbor about a task Albert must train Joey to do, but they are successful.  When Albert’s mother reveals that the farmer’s drinking is due to his financial problems, she foreshadows his decision to sell Joey to the British cavalry when WWI breaks out.  Albert’s last promise to Joey is to join the military someday and find him.

During the war, Joey meets a series of protectors - both the human and equine.  First it is his purchaser, Captain Nicholls, who is killed during their first battle, and another horse, Topthorn, who treats him kindly and calms Joey’s fears, especially as the troops are on board ship crossing the English Channel to war.   Some of the troops, including the horses, are captured by the Germans and ultimately, Joey and Topthorn are given the task of pulling ambulances of wounded soldiers from the front lines.  The horses are boarded with a French farmer and his granddaughter Emilie, who treat them well.  When the Germans leave the area, they leave the horses with them.  Soon though, another unit passing through takes the horses to pull artillery, and Emilie is devastated. 

They soon come under the care of “Crazy Old” Friedrich who is actually a kind soldier who knows horses.  He treats them kindly, but one day as they return from a drink at the river, Topthorn unexpectedly dies of heart failure.  A battle immediately begins, and Friedrich is also killed.  Joey stays next to the bodies of Topthorn and Friedrich for over a day when a tank comes into view.  It terrifies the horse, and he runs away, is injured in barbed wire,  and ends up in the middle of No Man’s Land.  Both sides try to call the horse, and ultimately a white flag is raised.  An older German and a young Brit meet and flip a coin for Joey.  He is won by the Brit and is taken back to the stables.  Working with the veterinarians is Albert, who has told everyone he knows about his goal of finding Joey.  They save him from tetanus and again put him to work pulling an ambulance wagon. 

When the war ends, the soldiers find out that the horses will be sold in France rather than being taken back to England.  They pool their money and try to buy Joey for Albert, but an elderly Frenchman calls out that he’ll pay as much as it takes to purchase the horse.  He does, and Albert goes to talk to him before they leave.  The man is Emilie’s grandfather, who is fulfilling her dying wish.  He’d promised to find the horse and bring him back to live on the farm for the rest of his life.  Knowing Albert will give him the same life, the Frenchman sells Joey back to Albert for an English penny and a promise not to let Emilie’s memory die. 

Joey and Albert return to the family farm, where Albert’s mother assures him that their father is a changed man and had stopped drinking after sending Joey off to war.  Albert takes over the farm and marries his sweetheart Maisie.  His father is said to treat both Joey and the grandchildren well.

2 Stars

As an animal-loving adult with a history degree, I was disappointed. It's been a while since I read a children's book, but I was hoping to like it more. I think it does lend itself to be a very good family tear-jerker though, because readers won't have a whole lot of details to argue Spielberg changed. Much can be added without violating the integrity of the story.

Personally, I give the book a 2 or 2.5 out of 5. For classroom use though, I don't think there's much historical fiction out there about WWI, and I didn't see any inaccuracies, so I do think it has value for students.

Teacher Advisories
Sex 0/5 
There's none.
Language 0/5 
Substance Abuses 3/5
Tobacco/Alcohol: At first it seems drunkenness will be an overarching theme, but is only rarely addressed after the first few chapters. Overall, the topic is probably a “2” but since it plays so prominently into the opening chapters, I ranked it higher given that it will be the reader’s first impression. Soldiers are also briefly described as smoking.
Violence 2/5
Fear/Blood: On several occasions, Joey’s terror is described, but human fear is not addressed often.  Descriptions of death in war are not given in detail though some of Joey’s friends are killed.

Touchy Subjects
The farmers bet on whether Joey can pull a plow, and Albert trains him within a week.  Also, there is a coin flip in No Man’s Land for whether the Germans or the British will get to keep Joey.

How this book is used in the classroom
1] Independent Read option for lower level readers
2] Themes and/or topics for discussion
  • Loyalty and devotion, keeping promises
  • Poor decision making when impaired by alcohol
  • Economic concerns and how they affect people
  • When decisions made during war must come before personal preferences
  • Giving your all to do jobs that you weren’t born, trained, or “bred” for
  • How to treat animals
  • Separation and union
3] Websites
A guide from Lincoln Center

Saturday, November 12, 2011

(S)mythology by Jeremy Tarr

fairy tale
1. A fanciful tale of legendary deeds and creatures, usually intended for children.
2. A fictitious, highly fanciful story or explanation.

          From the very beginning (S)mythology would like you to know that it believes itself to be a fairy tale. To make sure that we know that, it even starts of as all good fairy tales do, for it would be "sacrilege" not to do so, it starts off with "Once upon a time..." and, so that's how I shall begin my review.

     Once upon a time there was a girl who didn't realize that she was lonely. She was content to live at "Number Four Danube Street Flat Four, London SW3" and she was content to be alone for she knew that, having been cursed by the Gorgons, she would turn anyone who loved her into stone.
     Sophie, no last name, enjoyed being lonely until she met the man of her dreams, the surname to her Christian name, Smyth, and although Smyth was strong and artistic and beautiful, he could not resist falling in love with Sophie. Sophie, because she loved him, could not help but go through Heaven and Hell and all that's in between to save him, although being saved may not have been the answer to their Love but all romantics have to learn the hard way that "Love is a myth and we all live in fairy tales". When she loves again she will be more adult, she will be more careful.

          This book, Jeremy Tarr's first, is delightful and enchanting. Mr. Viceroy is an excellent multi-jowled villian, the Gorgons (think Medusa and her sisters) have converted to Kabbulah (think Madonna), there's a minotaur, Posideon and Hades, a mermaid, the creator of Stonehenge (by the way, did you know it's the house a guru built, complete with a gym?), Jesus and the angels, evil nuns, a Yeti, Buddha, talking fish souls, pygmies and, of course, apparitions in the form of Smyth, his parents and Sophie (who has been swallowed whole by the Angel of Death). Let me go on, there are contracts and deeds and orphans, there's communication with a Fountain that actual knows what you desire, there's all things Cat Stevens, and a Beatles quoting secretary to Cupid. Through Sophie's journey, there are questions that compel us to delve into our Faith and what we believe is Eternity and there are questions about family and commitment and undying devotion. And, you'll ask yourself these questions while experiencing a book that will make you laugh your socks off at the wit and humor of it all. Yes, this books is funny and whimsical and full of Life.
          Like all good fairy tales we learn valuable lessons about what it means to live ("'Happiness often comes from the search for Happiness'" and "And, she lived happily ever after") and what it means to die ("There's no true definition of beauty. Except for maybe Heaven." and "'Had I not had the experiences that I had so long ago with the Afterlife, I still don't think I would fear death. However, I will hold nostalgia for Life. and I'll certainly hold nostalgia for the people in my Life.'"). And, while we can argue forever about whether this is a true fairy tale, following the definition, (and, I did with myself and am doing so now as I type this, as the narrator will argue as you read) we can't argue that Jeremy Tarr has given us a book about the most important of all virtues; Love. He has shown us what it is (there are three important types), how to give it, how to receive it and most importantly how to cherish it so it grows and is remembered. One added feature is all the beautiful drawings by Katy Smail, they kept my tiny tot entertained while I read and are full of the same whimsy and enchantment as the words on the page.
          If you are like me, this seemingly simple novel with leave you with questions about its ending, your own life and its ending, and it will make you look at "Morning Has Broken" by Cat Stevens (Yusuf Islam) a little differently. It will make you laugh a little about the glorious absurdity of all that it means to be alive.

Morning Has Broken Lyrics
(A Traditional Song, Lyrics by *Eleanor Farjeon)

Morning has broken, like the first morning
Blackbird has spoken, like the first bird
Praise for the singing, praise for the morning
Praise for the springing fresh from the world

Sweet the rain's new fall, sunlit from heaven
Like the first dewfall, on the first grass
Praise for the sweetness of the wet garden
Sprung in completeness where his feet pass

Mine is the sunlight, mine is the morning
Born of the one light, Eden saw play
Praise with elation, praise every morning
God's recreation of the new day

4 1/2 Stars

Act II kind of lags for me, but that's probably because I'm a romantic and was mourning my losses, both figuratively and literally and spent some time drowning in my melancholy.

Teacher Advisories
Sex 1/5 
There are some situations that are described. The actual sex act is not described, however, two people are in bed together at one time and it is implied that they have had sex.
Language 3/5 
There really isn't a lot of language, but the language that is used is of the powerful kind. Sometimes using words such as F*** and G**D***, even if used once are red flags for some people.
Substance Abuses 2/5
Drinking, mind-altering substances are consumed in a manner befitting a scene in Alice in Wonderland.
Violence 1/5
Um, Sophie turns those she loves into stone. She cheats Death, death gets even. She rescues her love from Hell.

Touchy Subjects
Many religious traditions are talked about, however, Tarr doesn't really say that one is better than the other. Mysticism, mythology and other view points also take center stage. Students may question their own view-points and want to talk about it.
Death and Dying
This book does not have a happy ending, but it is a wonderful and beautiful ending. Where do you go when you die? What does it mean to die? and Have I lived my life to the fullest and without regrets? are questions that might come to mind.
First loves, love in marriage, lust, abandonment, lasting love, love for our family, love for our children, I could go on and on...

How this book is used in the classroom
1] Independent Read option
2] Websites
Tarrology more clever wordsmithing with pictures
(S)mythology all about the book, ever so pretty
A wonderful review for parents from Geek Dad

Oh, and I won this book on Good Reads and, while I didn't have to write a review, it said I could if I wanted to, and, boy did I want to, this book is so much more than fun!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

The Heart of the Spring by Laura L. Valenti

          OK, so you guys know how I feel about the wonders that are Missouri. This book is definitely one of those reasons. Reading a book detailing this area of Missouri and reading all about Becky and her family, who 90 years ago lived just down the way in the land of trout and bass fishing, was cool. It has just enough romance and heart to make in lovable and just enough plot to make it interesting and compelling, but it's the history that makes this book unforgettable. I love that this story is about that age-old problem of having roots and wings too. Becky is a character that we can all understand and just incase you think she's too girlie, you've got Miz Josie, a woman who takes nothing from no one and is still loved and respected by all. I am so glad that there is a modern author willing to write about the wonders of Missouri and the joys of what it means to be a Missourian bootlegging and all.

Memorable Quote: “The great Bennett Spring, ever true to the beat of life for generations, past and present, continued its languid passage behind them. A sudden breeze swirled green and golden leaves in a tiny whirlwind and scattered them across the sparkling waters in the late afternoon sunlight. The sheltering sycamores stretched their great white arms skyward in an ever-protective arch above the cool blue-green waters. The heart of the spring continued its faithful rhythm as yet another generation prepared to begin its journey in life.”
From the back cover:
Eighteen year old Becky Darling is thrilled with her first job at the Brice Inn in 1924, especially when she learns that Bennett Spring may become Missouri's first state park. It sounds like real progress until she discovers her beloved father is working hard against the idea. Life during that Prohibition summer is further complicated by her older brother's involvement in illegal moonshine, the impending birth of a new brother or sister and the surprise arrival of a state senator and his handsome aide. Becky can't help but wonder if life at Bennett Spring will ever be carefree again?
This book is historical fiction (Valenti did all of her own research by the way) and for young adults, young adults who, nowadays, don't care enough to know anything about the area in which they live.
           I am amazed at how many wonderfully talented writers there are in the state of Missouri and am looking forward to reading this book that Ellen Gray Massey said is about "fishing, moonshining, distrust of outsiders, beauty of nature, importance of family and a romance."

4 Stars   Photobucket
I love this book, but would not give up my first born for should read it though :)

Teacher Advisories
Sex 0/5 
Um, there may be some hand-holding and a very chaste smooch.
Language 0/5 
None. There are some Ozark Hills colloquialisms, but that's about it.
Substance Abuses 1/5
Becky's brother makes and drinks moonshine, she has to take him home one day because he's too drunk to drive. People do not condone this behavior and he does she the error of his ways in the end.
Violence 1/5
There's an explosion in the moonshine mills. There's an intense argument in a bar. Becky's brother is called on by the cops.

Touchy Subjects
There isn't any underage drinking, however, you may have to talk with your students about Moonshining.
Politicans who lie
Becky realizes that sometimes people are fake and say what they want to get elected. She finds out the truth, but you might have to talk to kids about that.

How this book is used in the classroom
1] Independent Read option
2] Websites
Interview with Laura L. Valenti from my other blog The Conscientious Reader

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Beastly by Alex Flinn

I was told I just "had" to read this book. So I did! I have always loved Beauty and the Beast (the Disney one, of course!). It didn't take much convincing to get me to read this once I realized it existed.

This book, uniquely narrated by the male lead, Adrian, is incredibly well written. I enjoyed seeing the beginning of the story and the transformation in more detail than you do in the Disney movie, which just brushes over it. It was also nice to get the inner thoughts of the beast as he deals with his transformation and trying to win over Linda, the book's version of Belle.

Perhaps my favorite part of it all, however, was how Flinn transformed the story into modern terms and changed the way a lot of the magical elements operated. She also changes the circumstances under which Linda/Belle is brought to and forced to stay with Adrian/Beast. That took a lot of thought and creativity, and ultimately lead to me not being able to put down this book!

5 Stars Photobucket
This book has now become part of my foundation and is an extension of the very essence of me...I laughed, I cried [or some other emotion] and am sad this reading is over...gush, gush, gush...

From Stephanie:
         Frankly, I wished I would have gone into the movie a little blind. The book is lovely and I can already tell that the movie will pale in comparison. Kyle Kingsbury is a jerk, and Adrian is the perfect beast. If I met Edward Cullen or Kyle, I'm not sure which I'd chose. Lindy is, hands down, the best YA heroine I've seen in a long time. I'm pretty sure that she does not, not even one time, cry over a boy...over the loss of her freedom and her father, yes there are some tears, but no tears for the loss of a boy. In this book Kyle/Adrian gets to be the crier and he gets to be the one who laments, hoorah! Sensitive guy, strong female (I knew there was a reason that I've always liked the Beauty and the Beast story). There isn't any way that they can possibly have all the wonderfulness that I imagined while reading...I was in it, in it, people...ask anyone who tried to talk to me during my planning period or tried to get me to eat lunch or do hall it.

Unfortunately, Vanessa Hudgens, is not in anyway how I imagined Lindy would be. I'm not going to spend time bashing Ms. Hudgens or her acting or singing ability...I am in no way her target audience, so what I think isn't going to do anybody any good. I just imagined Lindy acting a little less like Gabriella and looking a little more like this (you know a beautiful red head who has the ability to not look so pretty to the shallow of heart) with the acting chops to boot.

          This is the same way I felt about the Twilight movies. When they first came out I thought, OK, these movies may blow chunks...however, I may be able to tolerate them if...they don't screw up the baseball scene (which, with Muse as background music how could they?) and the vampire sparkles (which were done exactly how I imagined them)...first movie was a win, the second movie was so badly a loss that I haven't watched the third.
          Back to Beastly, I like this book because it allowed me to truly imagine the beast from his point of view. I think it's lovely that we don't officially meet the girl who is supposed to save everyone until 100 pages or so in, but we do meet Kyle and we do see him change and we do see how he is that attractive, popular boy that we all dreamed of, but was definitely too shallow and mean for us to like. I think every kid could learn something from his transformation...humility, what it means to be prideful, how and when to be stubborn, why we shouldn't blame our absentee parents for our problems, but rise above them and so on. I suppose that will all play off in the movie even without a redhead as Lindy.
          Hmmm...I guess I'll be OK, as long as they don't screw up that scene with the green dress.

5 Stars Photobucket
This book has now become part of my foundation and is an extension of the very essence of me...I laughed, I cried [or some other emotion] and am sad this reading is over...gush, gush, gush...

Teacher Advisories
Sex 1/5
There is really no sex in this book. There is kissing, but not more!
Language 1/5
There is nothing that you can't say on television.
Substance Abuses 1/5
A party is briefly mentioned, though there is no mention of alcohol or drugs.
Violence 1/5
Arguments, yelling, walking off in anger. Adrian/Beast is an angry character for what has happened to him. He also roughs up a burglar at one point, but lets him go.

Touchy Subjects
Adrian at the beginning of the novel is a rich and popular guy who uses an unpopular girl named Kendra as the butt of a joke, which is ultimately what results in his problems through the rest of the novel. Some may be bothered by the fact that Kendra takes revenge upon him, but as this is a retold fairy tale, it may be a less sensitive subject.

Parent/Child Relationships
There are no positive parent/child relationships. Lindy's father gives her up to keep himself out of trouble. Adrian's father isolates and hides him once his transformation takes place and pays little attention to him after.

How this book is used in the classroom
1) Independent Read option
2) Lesson Plans
Book Study on Glogster
Reading Group Guide
Another Book Study on Glogster

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Twenty Boy Summer by Sarah Ockler

34 years ago my brother died in a car accident, I was  a little over a year old, he was three. I don't remember much about him, save one strange memory of him standing outside the car entertaining me while my mom pumps and pays for gas. I recall the car, the sun sparkling off of the metal on the window and the smell of the summer day mingling with the smell of the gasoline. And, of course, I have the stories, of how he called me Finnie Shell for Stephanie Michelle, how he would chase me around the house, how he could make me hurts that I only have these stories and not their memories.

2 years ago I gave birth to a tiny person, I was a little over 33 years old, she was a surprise. I remember everything about the night I found out I was pregnant, everything about the day the doctor confirmed it, showing us the ultrasound of our little girl already 5 months in the making and every moment anxiously awaiting her arrival. And, of course, I have the stories, of how she calls me Mommy and Mom and sometimes Mommy Stephanie, how she comes to school with me on Saturday Publication work days, how she makes me hurts to realize I used to think my life was complete without her.

It's these two people, the brother I never knew and the person I didn't know who could make me, well, a better me, that I think about when I think about Twenty Boy Summer by Sarah Ockler.
From Goodreads:
"Don’t worry, Anna. I’ll tell her, okay? Just let me think about the best way to do it." "Okay." "Promise me? Promise you won’t say anything?" "Don’t worry.” I laughed. “It’s our secret, right?"  
According to Anna’s best friend, Frankie, twenty days in Zanzibar Bay is the perfect opportunity to have a summer fling, and if they meet one boy every day, there’s a pretty good chance Anna will find her first summer romance. Anna lightheartedly agrees to the game, but there’s something she hasn’t told Frankie–she’s already had her romance, and it was with Frankie’s older brother, Matt, just before his tragic death one year ago. 
TWENTY BOY SUMMER explores what it truly means to love someone, what it means to grieve, and ultimately, how to make the most of every beautiful moment life has to offer.
This book has so much in it and it speaks honestly about love, friendship, family and what it means to grieve the loss of a loved one.

I am more than willing to believe that when you are still grieving the loss of someone you truly love that having sex for the first time helps to heal the wound, that blocking it out and drinking and pretending to have sexual exploits makes it a little easier to be alive and that when your child dies a piece of you dies and living doesn't even seem possible. I believe that each of the characters in this book acts how people act when their hearts hurt so much they can't feel it.

I like that the parents and other grown-ups in this book are ancillary to the true narrative. I do not mind that the girls sneak out of the house to hang out with boys, go to a party by lying and making up imaginary girl friends. I believe that grieving parents who are just as lost as their still alive children, in this case the very lost Frankie, don't know how to act or how to feel, I believe they ignore and believe what they want to believe. Here's what I don't like, here's the part that makes me sad and here's the part that I hope makes me a better parent...neither of the girls talk to their parents about how they feel and I believe Anna's parents, would listen and trying to help. While I don't need to know everything that my daughter is doing or will do I hope that she knows that she can always talk to me and she can always share her most personal thoughts with me. I hope that she knows that I love her no matter what.

Everything in this book is real and honest and tender and I wouldn't change a single word of it.

My niece is reading this book right now and I know that I'm going to make sure this book finds its way into the hands of my daughter and then we can have a talk about love and friendship and when it's appropriate to have sex and I hope that while I am not her peer she sees me as someone to go to when she needs to do so.

While I write this my daughter is singing "Happy Birthday to Mommy", it isn't my birthday until next May, but it sure feels like a celebration.

5 Stars
This book has now become part of my foundation and is an extension of the very essence of me...I laughed, I cried [or some other emotion] and am sad this reading is over...gush, gush, gush...

Teacher Advisories
Sex 4/5 
There are two sexual situations, neither is graphic, the first, however, is described in realistic and honest terms, some examples include talking about ripping the condom out of its wrapper, and "It doesn't hurt exactly--it's just kind of--strange." The second act involves the same couple and is describe with the same kind of realistic language, but does not actually describe the sex act. No adults find out about the sex and neither of the under age participants are scarred or troubled afterwards. This 'lack of remorse', has caused this book to be banned.
Language 1/5 
To quote the school board in Missouri that banned this book from its curriculum, there's 'questionable language' used to describe boys and sexual situations. This language may be inappropriate in a classroom setting or for church, but its definitely a norm among teenagers.
Substance Abuses 3/5
One girl talks about past exploits while drunk, and we find out that these prove to be a lie, the drinking was real. The two main characters go to one big party where there is drinking and one girl proceeds to get drunk, while the other one does drink. There is a drinking game at the party. Beer is consumed on a regular basis by people who are underage.
Violence 1/5
Arguments, yelling, walking off in anger. One girl lashes out at the other by destroying property.

Touchy Subjects
Be prepared to have an honest conversation about death and dying and what it means when a friend or boy/girlfriend dies. Be prepared to cry like a little baby.
Telling lies
It's important to understand the lying and scheming in this book in context. I think it is also important to note the reasons why Anna and Frankie lie and how they atone for this, even if they aren't punished. Does a child really need to be punished to learn a lesson? Can't students read this book and understand the lessons learned without all the questions answered and the ending wrapped up in a little neat unrealistic bow?
Parent/Child Relationships
Like I said, I'd like my daughter to talk to me. I understand why Annie and Frankie did not. I also think it's important to note that these girls are making adult decisions, but they are also quite mature. If anything there is a lesson to be learned here, teenagers who act like adults should be treated like adults and should be spoken to like the mature people they are.

How this book is used in the classroom
1] Independent Read option