Category Archives: Retro Reviews

January 15

BEYOND WONDERFUL—ON THE NIGHT OF THE SHOOTING STAR by Amy Hest, illustrations by Jenni Desmond – Review by Carol Coven Grannick

The children sit on a rug, in two uneven rows at my feet. I am on a preschool chair with a book in my hands, as yet unopened. Someone whispers. Someone else pokes someone. But then the quiet settles. “Hello, Friends,” I say. “This is one of my favorite books.” It’s my weekly reading time […]

September 19

PAX by Sara Pennypacker – Review by Sarah Derringer

I did it. I judged a book by its cover. I picked up Pax by Sara Pennypacker on a whim, because the cover art had an intriguingly soft, eerily nostalgic quality that sparked a sea of wonderings in my reader’s mind…Is this a story told by a fox?…Why is the fox facing away from me?…I […]

August 08

A Message My Sixteen-year-old Self Needed to Hear: Review of Wolfpack: How to Come Together, Unleash Our Power, and Change the Game (2019) by Abby Wambach – Review by Mandy Stewart

U.S. Women’s Soccer. The Ecosystem. Leadership. Bring these three seemingly disparate concepts together and you have Wolfpack, the book I wish 16-year-old me had read, yet my middle-aged self is now reveling. This is a crucial book that all of your high school students (male and female) should read by Olympic Gold Medalist and U.S. […]

May 23

Echo by Pam Munoz Ryan – Review by Shilpa Mehta

Echo by Pam Munoz Ryan is a compilation of stories tied together in a timeless thread by the power of music. The harmonica, featured prominently on the cover and the book’s spine, travels through time and across continents and oceans through the hands of three magnanimous children, and brings to each comfort and the confidence […]

March 15

One of Us is Lying by Karen McManus: An Intricate Puzzle That’s Both Fun and Thoughtful – Review by Cynthia Webb

One of Us is Lying by Karen McManus is an incredibly intriguing puzzle of a mystery.  Five students are in detention the afternoon that Simon, creator of a notorious gossip app, dies.  He has been exposed to peanut oil and he’s highly allergic.  Not only that, but his epi-pen is missing and so are all […]

March 08


I believe that some characters are clamoring to get into this world. These unruly spirits dodge all obstacles, then when given a toe-hold they stake out a broad claim and finally, in the most unsettling way, they morph far beyond what the author created. This is certainly true for our little monkey, George of the […]

March 01

I Want You Around: The First Rule of Punk is the middle-grade novel we needed by Rachel Rosenberg

The First Rule of Punk by Celia C. Pérez is the sort of middle-grade read that I used to yearn for during my pre-teen years. Back in the dinosaur days of the early 1990s (when I was a punk-rock-loving 12-year-old old), books aimed at my age were fun but definitely not representative of subcultures or political movements. […]

February 15

Retro review: ‘Holding up the Universe.’ Learning to love yourself by Vanessa Simpson

The release of Holding up the Universe by Jennifer Niven was highly anticipated to be a huge hit in April 2016, as the success of her previous Young Adult novel, All the Bright Places, had left her readers wondering how she could possibly pull at their emotions any more. As soon as I found out a […]

January 04

Retro Review: It’s Not Me, It’s You Is A Needed Ray of Sun by Brett Vogelsinger

After finishing a string of beautifully crafted but oh-so-heavy YA novels, the kind that have the word “devastating” in the book jacket blurb, I decided it was time for something lighter.  I browsed the “Light and Humorous” section of my classroom library, which is, I admit, a bit anemic, and came across came across Stephanie […]

August 31

No longer hidden from history: The Life of Vivien Thomas, Medical Pioneer by Therese Nagi

Hidden historical pioneers who overcame great odds grab my attention, but not usually medical ones. However, Gwendolyn Hooks’s picture book Tiny Stitches – The Life of Medical Pioneer Vivien Thomas, hooked me with Thomas’s perseverance to realize his dream. The biography begins with illustrator, Colin Bootman’s muted water color of a studious Thomas in a […]