Books by Joanne Rocklin

LOVE, PENELOPE by Joanne Rocklin
Released: March 20, 2018

"Though clearly well-intentioned, this middle-grade novel seems unlikely to find an enthusiastic audience. (author's note, bibliography, list of organizations) (Fiction. 10-12)"
Fifth-grader Penelope Bach records her thoughts and experiences in a series of letters to her unborn sibling. Read full book review >
I SAY SHEHECHIYANU by Joanne Rocklin
Released: March 1, 2015

"A sweet year for all. (Picture book. 3-8)"
A little girl experiences a year of joyous events and traditions. Read full book review >
Released: Aug. 12, 2014

"As a historical novel, this more than succeeds; as a fantasy, it misses the mark. (Fantasy. 10-14)"
An exceptional flea helps a polio-stricken girl in this tale of friendship and acceptance. Read full book review >
Released: April 1, 2012

"Another emotionally satisfying outing from Rocklin; hanky recommended. (Fiction. 8-12)"
All cats have nine lives, especially those with 26 toes, right? Read full book review >
Released: April 1, 2011

Does the arrival of a mysterious man in a green car presage a miracle on Orange Street? Does the orange cone in front of the empty lot where the last majestic orange tree stood mean trouble? The tree was rooted in the lives of four kids. Bunny, age nine, has OCD and worries every time her mother flies. Leandra lives at 301½ above the garage with her grandparents because her mother is pregnant. Ali has a toddler brother who has stopped talking after a hospital stay. Lonely Robert is a chubby would-be magician with a crush on Ali. The segments of their lives cluster around the orange tree that holds secrets in the dirt, shelters hummingbird nests and provides California shade. There's also Manny, the dreadlocked nanny for Ali's brother, and Ms. Snoops, whose memory is like a lacy antimacassar, with holes. Unfolding in one day's time, the story recounts how secrets are revealed, curiosity is satisfied and wishing becomes hope because the spirit and ties of friendship and community are resilient and strong. Fully realized characters and setting definitely make this one morning on Orange Street amazing. (Fiction. 8-11)Read full book review >
THIS BOOK IS HAUNTED by Joanne Rocklin
Released: Sept. 1, 2002

A good collection of poems and quick tales that packs a little Halloween chill. Adinolfi's (Fred's Bed, 2001, etc.) art has the right mixture of daffy and spooky—eerie faces and clacking skeletons, in strong colors—to set the tone for these six stories, a couple of which have comical edges, but mostly have a solid, creepy quality. Two are cautionary tales: One involves a couple of girls who visit one house too many on Halloween night, the other an irresponsible bully boy who refuses to bring back a library book. One provides a shock: "Then Sally Bibble drew a little scribble / that looked a lot like Baby Bibble. / They never found her baby sister. / Sally Bibble hardly missed her." And a couple leave strange things unexplained, though older characters think they have figured out the queer happenings: a house that echoes even when it's not empty, and a mysterious tap tap tapping. The text is also pitch-perfect for beginning readers, with just enough challenge to the words and a narrative momentum that pulls readers right along. (Easy reader. 4-8)Read full book review >
FOR YOUR EYES ONLY! by Joanne Rocklin
Released: April 1, 1997

A realistic novel, in the form of a journal, made slightly above average by the author's use of poetry. Mr. Moffat, the sixth-grade substitute teacher, asks everyone in Lucy's class to keep journals that he might read. Lucy is articulate about her rather typical concerns and activities. She lives with her divorced mother and comments upon her father's new love life. She has squabbles with her girlfriends and is tormented by Andy, a classmate who turns out to be the victim of abuse. The terrain is familiar, if not predictable. The teacher introduces the children to poems by Lilian Moore, Langston Hughes, Valerie Worth, and others, reprinted and commented upon by Lucy. She writes poetry, too, most of which seems too accomplished for her character. The poetry gives this a lift but doesn't sustain it; Andy's serious problems are dealt with too quickly and neatly. (Fiction. 8-12) Read full book review >
Released: Nov. 30, 1991

At 11, Martha is hoping to be discovered—again. No one remembers her in TV commercials at age five; she's now chubby, lonely, and a fibber. One day she opens a mysterious package to find a purple guitar and a lesson book, with more lessons promised for a mere $150.00. Her parents insist it's a scam, but Martha is sure it's her ticket back to fame and popularity. Secretly, she keeps the guitar and—with her upstairs neighbor, Winston—learns to play. At first, all the promises seem to come true: playing the guitar brings Martha out of her prepubescent shell and she finds that she really can entertain people. Her playing seems to improve her senile grandfather's memory, and even the more popular girls are impressed. But when her parents find out, everything falls apart: the girls dump her; she's estranged from Winston; and her grandfather relapses. Even so, it is he who finally helps Martha understand that the magic has been within her all along, rather than in the instrument. Though the story is pleasant, it does require some suspension of disbelief, e.g. at Martha's quick proficiency in learning to play and at the ease with which the popular girls are impressed. Still, the characters are likable, and many readers will recognize themselves in Martha. (Fiction. 8-12) Read full book review >