Lucy and CeCee’s target audience may consist solely of tweens, but this is a book that can educate readers of any age.

LUCY AND CECEE'S HOW TO SURVIVE (AND THRIVE) IN MIDDLE SCHOOL

Two BFFs compile a manual for youngsters who must endure the ordeal that is middle school.

Meet Lucy and CeCee, two middle schoolers documenting what they’ve learned as tweens. Lucy, obsessed with becoming popular, works the social aspect, while CeCee, who finds a B+ unspeakable, focuses on academics. The girls provide helpful tips on everything: fashion, acing exams, passing notes and the most socially acceptable jargon. Along the way, they learn even more about themselves and about one another. Dana’s novel (Cheerage Fearage, 2012, etc.) is a delightful read. Lucy and CeCee write what they know, so they provide a female perspective. While some chapter’s lessons won’t be applicable to most guys—Chapter 21’s “How to Get a Boyfriend”—the majority of their how-to guides have universal appeal. Some of them are positively inspirational: How to not be noticed by the teacher, which includes using a fellow student for cover; and how to covertly chew gum in class (prerequisites for this lesson include gum and a clueless teacher). But while the girls’ teachings are often amusing, what really makes Dana’s book exceptional are the girls themselves. As their collective account progresses, their insecurities are gradually exposed: Lucy’s “Complexion Reports” occur like weather updates and CeCee develops an eating disorder. These tweens aren’t stereotypes; they’re girls with sturdy personalities and distinctive backgrounds. CeCee once attended Catholic school, and Lucy’s mother is the president of the PTA. The lessons in each chapter can be read in any order, but the intimate touches—diary entries, notes, emails, texts—are a story of two girls maturing and understanding and even fighting with each other. “Lingo Lessons” are sprinkled throughout for readers who get headaches from slang, and parents, take note: The girls’ approach to more sensitive issues such as cyberbullying and peer pressure to drink or do drugs is intelligent and responsible.

Lucy and CeCee’s target audience may consist solely of tweens, but this is a book that can educate readers of any age.

Pub Date: April 5, 2012

ISBN: 978-1462039678

Page Count: 278

Publisher: iUniverse

Review Posted Online: July 10, 2012

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A YA novel that treats its subject and its readers with respect while delivering an engaging story.

BROTHERS IN ARMS

BLUFORD HIGH SERIES #9

In the ninth book in the Bluford young-adult series, a young Latino man walks away from violence—but at great personal cost.

In a large Southern California city, 16-year-old Martin Luna hangs out on the fringes of gang life. He’s disaffected, fatherless and increasingly drawn into the orbit of the older, rougher Frankie. When a stray bullet kills Martin’s adored 8-year-old brother, Huero, Martin seems to be heading into a life of crime. But Martin’s mother, determined not to lose another son, moves him to another neighborhood—the fictional town of Bluford, where he attends the racially diverse Bluford High. At his new school, the still-grieving Martin quickly makes enemies and gets into trouble. But he also makes friends with a kind English teacher and catches the eye of Vicky, a smart, pretty and outgoing Bluford student. Martin’s first-person narration supplies much of the book’s power. His dialogue is plain, but realistic and believable, and the authors wisely avoid the temptation to lard his speech with dated and potentially embarrassing slang. The author draws a vivid and affecting picture of Martin’s pain and confusion, bringing a tight-lipped teenager to life. In fact, Martin’s character is so well drawn that when he realizes the truth about his friend Frankie, readers won’t feel as if they are watching an after-school special, but as though they are observing the natural progression of Martin’s personal growth. This short novel appears to be aimed at urban teens who don’t often see their neighborhoods portrayed in young-adult fiction, but its sophisticated characters and affecting story will likely have much wider appeal.

A YA novel that treats its subject and its readers with respect while delivering an engaging story.

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 2004

ISBN: 978-1591940173

Page Count: 152

Publisher: Townsend Press

Review Posted Online: Jan. 26, 2013

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A short, simple, and sweet tale about two friends and a horse.

Mary's Song

From the Dream Horse Adventure Series series , Vol. 1

A novel tells the story of two spirited girls who set out to save a lame foal in 1952.

Mary, age 12, lacks muscle control of her legs and must use a wheelchair. Her life is constantly interrupted by trips with her widower father to assorted doctors, all of whom have failed to help her. Mary tolerates the treatments, hoping to one day walk unassisted, but her true passion involves horses. Possessing a library filled with horse books, she loves watching and drawing the animals at a neighboring farm. She longs to own one herself. But her father, overprotective due to her disability and his own lingering grief over Mary’s dead mother, makes her keep her distance. Mary befriends Laura, the emotionally neglected daughter of the wealthy neighboring farm owners, and the two share secret buggy rides. Both girls are attracted to Illusion, a beautiful red bay filly on the farm. Mary learns that Illusion is to be put down by a veterinarian because of a lame leg. Horrified, she decides to talk to the barn manager about the horse (“Isn’t it okay for her to live even if she’s not perfect? I think she deserves a chance”). Soon, Mary and Laura attempt to raise money to save Illusion. At the same time, Mary begins to gain control of her legs thanks to water therapy and secret therapeutic riding with Laura. There is indeed a great deal of poignancy in a story of a girl with a disability fighting to defend the intrinsic value of a lame animal. But this book, the first installment of the Dream Horse Adventure Series, would be twice as touching if Mary interacted with Illusion more. In the tale’s opening, she watches the foal from afar, but she actually spends very little time with the filly she tries so hard to protect. This turns out to be a strange development given the degree to which the narrative relies on her devotion. Count (Selah’s Sweet Dream, 2015) draws Mary and Laura in broad but believable strokes, defined mainly by their unrelenting pluckiness in the face of adversity. While the work tackles disability, death, and grief, Mary’s and Laura’s environments are so idyllic and their optimism and perseverance so remarkable that the story retains an aura of uncomplicated gentleness throughout.

A short, simple, and sweet tale about two friends and a horse.

Pub Date: N/A

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: -

Publisher: Hastings Creations Group

Review Posted Online: Oct. 15, 2016

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