Jillicious Reading: March 2013


Book Talk with Teri Lesesne

I attended Teri Lesesne’s Tools of the Trade workshop at Region 10 on Thursday.  I always enjoy her presentations.  She so skillfully and succinctly pinpoints the heart of a book.  She also preaches the power of silent reading time (Amen!) and offers great ways to connect books to all parts of the curriculum.  On Thursday, she spoke about several of my favorite new books as well as some that were new to me.  I fell in love with …
Paul Meets Bernadette  
by Rosy Lamb (Candlewick)

This charming book tells the story of Paul, a goldfish who swims around and around in his bowl desperately looking for something new.  Then, Bernadette arrives.  She shows Paul a whole new world just beyond the fish bowl and a whole new way to live. 

The  brushstrokes are distinct and bold, the word choice is exquisite, and the story is absolutely delightful.  I can’t wait for this one to be published!  

Thanks for coming to Dallas, Teri.  Look forward to hearing you again soon and adding more books to my reading list!         


Return to Me
by Justina Chen
Summary:  Nothing is going as Rebecca planned.  She selected a college across the country where she could get away from her parents.  Now her father’s job is taking the whole family exactly where she is going.  And, what about Jackson, her amazing boyfriend?  Everyone knows long distance relationships don’t work, right?  But before she can even really decide what to do about him, her family is shaken with news that makes Rebecca question absolutely everything.  

Thoughts:  I read an interview with author Justina Chen about the inspiration for the novel and then heard her speak about it in person at a Little, Brown dinner at ALA Midwinter.  In both interview and talk, Ms. Chen eloquently described how she went through a devastating life change but she came through it, the pain and dust ultimately transforming to beautiful stardust.  She penned Return to Me to tell a story of redemption and to remind her children (and readers!) that it is possible for good to come from the bad.  

Return to Me completely succeeds.  It is a powerful story of redemption as well as first loves, expectations, disappointments, and self-discovery.  As in North of Beautiful, Ms.Chen incorporates complex characters, complicated family relationships, the power of art, and the potential to find oneself through new experiences and travels.  This time the art is in the form of architecture (a subject I love!) and the adventure takes place in Hawaii (what’s not to love?). 

Read Return to Me if you … 

  • enjoyed North of Beautiful (be watching for some former characters to make a brief appearance!) 
  • have an interest in architecture
  •  have experienced a painful family conflict
  • enjoy stories of first love 

Visit Justina Chen’s blog to learn more about Return to Me and this talented author.  


The Tragedy Paper
by Elizabeth LaBan
Summary: Duncan is disappointed when his senior dorm assignment is not only the smallest room on the hall but also the former dorm of the albino loner, Tim Macbeth.  Duncan is surprised to discover that Tim left him a collection of CDs narrating the events from last year – Tim’s transfer to The Irving School, his secret romance with Vanessa (the girlfriend of the most popular guy at Irving), and the one night everyone is trying so desperately to forget. 

Thoughts:  A boarding school, a senior thesis, secrets and forbidden love … I was sold on the premise alone, and, once I began, couldn’t put it down. The Tragedy Paper is a smart teen novel that tells two parallel stories.  Duncan’s senior year experiences and romance are played out alongside Tim’s retelling of events from the previous year.  The alternating points of view are well-crafted and add intrigue and depth to the story.  The isolated boarding school, the cold winter, and Tim’s honest narration give the novel a captivating, melancholy mood, somehow feeling both contemporary and historical. Readers will stay engaged through the end wanting to know how things ultimately play out and will likely be surprised by the outcome.  The familiar subjects of teen love, heartbreak, and the need for acceptance are freshly explored in this compelling debut novel.  

Read The Tragedy Paper if you …

  • enjoy books set in boarding schools
  • like books about inspiring teachers
  • are a fan of John Green
  • enjoyed Jay Asher’s Thirteen Reasons Why
  • have ever felt like an outsider
  • prefer your realistic young adult fiction with some depth & intrigue
  • enjoy discover exciting new authors. 

Click here to read an interview with author Elizabeth LaBan by popular adult author Jennifer Weiner. 


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