Books by Coleen Murtagh Paratore

THE BIG BOOK ABOUT BEING BIG by Coleen Murtagh Paratore
Released: July 1, 2019

"Helpful for the right child-adult pair or group. (Picture book. 3-5)"
A multiracial cast of children demonstrates that "BIG is being the / BIGGEST YOU / that you can be." Read full book review >
CATCHING FIREFLIES by Coleen Murtagh Paratore
Released: March 22, 2014

"Users could end up with a cache of ideas and a habit that could conceivably last a lifetime. (iPad writing app. 10-16)"
Part journal, part writing exercise, this app aims to help young writers get in the habit of writing. Read full book review >
DREAMSLEEVES by Coleen Murtagh Paratore
Released: April 1, 2012

"While a few passages lean precariously toward the polemical and the resolutions are pretty quick and tidy, readers will be too squarely in A's court to care. (Historical fiction. 10-14)"
This inspirational story set in the 1960s will resonate with a wide range of readers. Read full book review >
Released: July 1, 2011

"Lovers of hip, edgy or meta should look elsewhere, but this story carries its own brand of modest delight for the right reader. (Fiction. 10-15)"
Crammed with incident, yet loose and rambling and without much dramatic arc, this slice-of-life novel, the sixth in the series, charts Willa's life, loves and personal growth though part of an event-filled summer. Read full book review >
A PEARL AMONG PRINCES by Coleen Murtagh Paratore
Released: Sept. 1, 2009

A wisp of a plot barely holds the weight of the frothy, overworked prose in this transparent fairy-tale romance. Still, it's possible that starry-eyed tweens will find appeal in the romance tropes nestled among familiar nursery rhymes in this first-person, present-tense narrative. The imaginary, royal-centric setting is the distilled cultural landscape of contemporary princess tales—references to Christian holidays and Joan of Arc are mixed with a singular lack of familiar technology. Gracepearl, who dreams of escape from her island home, is the Cook's daughter in a community dedicated to the annual gentlemanly training of young princes of the region. Nearly 16, she's eligible for betrothal to one of the princes, but regrets giving up her lifelong friendship with the stableboy, Mackree. While the princes' charm and good looks outshine Mackree at nearly every turn, Gracepearl's choice is telegraphed early on, and the only suspense is in how she will get her wish to keep Mackree and spread her wings as well. Should be read with a large dose of sand and sun. (Fantasy. 9-13)Read full book review >
SUNNY HOLIDAY by Coleen Murtagh Paratore
Released: Jan. 1, 2009

Unhappy that January is so dark and boring, fourth-grader Sunny hopes to invent a new holiday—a Kids Day halfway between Christmas and Valentine's Day—and to get the mayor to proclaim it. The main attraction in this optimistic tale is not the premise—which rather unbelievably seems about to happen by its end—but Sunny herself, a never-give-up kind of kid determined to "bloom like a dandelion," in her father's words. But her father is serving time. Living in an apartment on the wrong side of a blighted river, and attending a school that is "on probation," Sunny's life could seem pretty grim. Still, she and her hardworking mother count ten reasons to be grateful every night, her teacher thinks positively, and though Riverton is not the best of all possible worlds, it seems likely that Sunny and her family will, step-by-step, achieve their dreams. A first-person narrative, full of high hopes and sensible advice, this feel-good story slips down easily. (Fiction. 8-10)Read full book review >
THE FUNERAL DIRECTOR’S SON by Coleen Murtagh Paratore
Released: Aug. 5, 2008

Since 1875, Campbell and Sons Funeral Home has been taking care of the dead in the tiny, depressed town of Clover. Twelve-year-old Kip, Paratore's resourceful good-kid protagonist and the reluctant heir to the franchise, has an unusual talent: He helps the dead lighten their hearts so they can sail into the next world. But now Kip is ready to sail away himself and wants only to make enough money to attend summer camp with his three best friends. The plot tries to kick into gear when the interior voices that guide his talent offer Kip his weight in gold if he'll continue to help the dead for one more year. His first challenge is Billy Blye, a mean one-eyed lobsterman who has always terrified him. Getting Billy aloft requires ingenuity and teamwork, as Kip doesn't know the source of his heavy sorrow. Despite the action that follows as Kip struggles to unravel the mystery of Billy's distress, the story fails to engage, leaving the reader flat on the ground. (Fiction. 8-12)Read full book review >
Released: Jan. 8, 2008

Willa is still getting used to the idea of having JFK as her official boyfriend; her mother and stepfather are gearing up for another busy season at the inn; and Nana is working hard to come up with new taffy and fudge flavors to wow the tourists. But when a new girl, Mariel, moves to town, she seems to want everything Willa has, including JFK. The last straw for Willa is when Mariel lands the part opposite JFK in the local performance of Our Town. In addition to having to watch her boyfriend kiss a beautiful girl, there are two weddings, a farewell and a new baby for Willa to handle. Willa remains charming, funny and often achingly real. Complete with another of "Willa's pix," a list of her recommended books, this is sure to please bibliophiles, theater lovers and anyone looking for a good story. (Fiction. 10-12)Read full book review >
MACK MCGINN’S BIG WIN by Coleen Murtagh Paratore
Released: July 10, 2007

Sixth-grader Mack McGinn's family has a tradition of winning. Gramp won at football for Notre Dame. Dad won at soccer until an injury took him out of the game. And everyone knows Mack's older brother Rory wins at everything. This year, Mack has a plan to best his brother and finally (he hopes) win the attention of their father. Mack also just wants to spend time with his best friend Digger, but his high-powered real-estate agent, social-climber mother keeps pushing him to hang out with their repugnant well-to-do neighbor Pope. Mack's plan to win the town's annual 5K race is derailed when he leaves the race to save Digger's accident-prone younger sister, thus reminding his family that winning isn't everything. Paratore's first foray into boy's lit is a strong one. Mack's believable narration and ample sense of humor make this sports story a cut above the rest, especially for the more sensitive sports readers. (Fiction. 9-12)Read full book review >
THE CUPID CHRONICLES by Coleen Murtagh Paratore
Released: Jan. 1, 2007

After playing cupid to both her mother and her grandmother in The Wedding Planner's Daughter (2005), 13-year-old Willa Havisham just might find herself in love this time—but only if she can save the town library, keep Ruby from stealing Joey away and survive her mother's eccentric guests. When the town council threatens to close the Bramble library, Willa takes it upon herself to save the day. Along the way, she reignites an old love, entertains some odd guests at the inn and tries to find out whether science or Cupid is the way to a guy's heart. Even with all of the new adventures, some things never change as she butts heads with her mother. Luckily, Sam's presence in the family helps smooth the way. Willa's spirit keeps it fun, but it's her smarts that make her memorable. Complete with a suggested reading list, this sequel will not disappoint readers anxious for another dance with Willa and her friends. (Fiction. 10-14)Read full book review >
Released: Feb. 1, 2005

Willa Havisham has always wanted a father, but her mother, Stella, seems destined to always be the wedding planner and never the bride. As Cape Cod's most sought-after expert on The Big Day, Stella has devised a 12-point plan for assuring a perfect wedding, but something seems to be missing. Losing Willa's father has made her untouchable, but Willa is determined to break through to her. A touching adventure unfolds as Willa tries to remind her mother of the 13th and most important ingredient, love. A promising love interest, a celebrity wedding and dozens of cherry cordials keep Willa hopeful that her mother might finally find love. This smart and funny fairy tale stays hopeful and enchanting, even as it touches on the more difficult aspects of love. Romantic and real. (Fiction. 8-12)Read full book review >
Released: June 1, 2004

Paratore's tale of a skeptical child who learns to believe founders on art from an illustrator who doesn't seem to have read it. Raised to trust only in the empirical method, young Prudence pooh-poohs the folk tales her new teacher, "Miss Beatrix Bliss, F.G." reads in class, as well as the admonitory notes and postcards she keeps receiving from the likes of "L.R. Hood," and "Big B.W. and the Oinks." Once she realizes that she's alienated her friends, though, she changes her tune, proclaiming that fairy tales are real. Her proof? The "Fairy Tale Forest" postmarks on her mail—but in Petrosino's cartoon scenes, those cards are plainly visible, and plainly have no postmarks (or mailing addresses, for that matter) at all. Prudence may believe, but readers won't. (Picture book. 6-8)Read full book review >