Category Archives: Retro Reviews

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 […]

August 21

Donald and Carol Carrick: Sepia Toned Understanding by Jake Nuckolls

I have a list in my head of currently touring bands that I don’t want to miss.  Some that I admit that I probably won’t see thanks to ticket pricing.  Josh Ritter, Wilco, Arcade Fire, James Taylor.  I have a similar list for authors.  It isn’t nearly as easy to see authors if you don’t […]

June 08

A Season-Dancing, Heart-Opening Retro Review of My Mama Had a Dancing Heart — by Rosanne L. Kurstedt

My Mama Had a Dancing Heart (Orchard Books, 1995) by Libba Moore Gray and illustrated by Raúl Colón is a fun-loving, hand-clapping, heart-happy book that never gets old.   Libba Moore Gray effortlessly tells the story of a mother and her daughter through season-specific dances. Her use of noun-verb and verb-verb phrases adds rhythm and […]

April 06

Why Poetry? by Susan Knell

“One of the richest gifts we can give children is the gift of poetry,” as stated by the great children’s poet/anthologist Lee Bennett Hopkins  Sharing poetry is such an easy thing to do, but many times neglected by teachers who think they have to “teach” poetry and therefore feel inadequate to do so. However, they […]

October 20

The Fog of Forgetting by G. A. Morgan – Retro Review by Melissa Guerrette

I confess: Fantasy novels often get stuck in my Someday book stack.   No matter how many of my Nerdy friends profess their love for fantasy novels like The Chronicles of Narnia or how emphatically they recommend A Wrinkle in Time, delving into another world that expects me to leave behind the constructs I am […]