So swiftly do the pages turn, however, the story may stay with readers, but the poetry probably won’t.


An outcast at school and within her own family, “Lexi / (rhymes with sexy) / Mcleen, sixteen,” articulates a life of desperation and determination in this verse novel.

The format keeps readers moving quickly through familiar teen-literature motifs (pot smoking, critical classmates and family, first crushes and their “intoxicating / fumes from / across the room”). But beyond the standard challenges, Lexi’s first-person account is like a run-on sentence of personal sadness: alcoholic dad in jail; overwhelmed, critical, anorexic and bipolar stepmother; autistic half brother; infant half sister claimed by crib death one year earlier. During a health-class project, traumatized Lexi—recalling the lost sister—paints her “Almost-Real Baby” girl doll blue because “Pink stinks. / It makes me think too much.” Mental health intervention, a supportive librarian and meeting the right guy all help pull Lexi back from the brink. With varying verse structures and styles, High uses typeface changes and word placement to magnify the message, with varying degrees of effectiveness. At its best, it ranges from the cleverly contemporary (“Zelda’s a walking, talking Google search. Yahoo!”) to the credibly evocative (“I like / to open my / window / this time / of the year. / / It smells / like a painting / by Norman Rockwell”).

So swiftly do the pages turn, however, the story may stay with readers, but the poetry probably won’t. (Verse fiction. 12-18)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-62250-883-9

Page Count: 252

Publisher: Saddleback Educational Publishing

Review Posted Online: July 16, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2014

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Ephemeral—unlike the art here (some of it, at least) and those fondly remembered little books.


Chicken soup for fans of Golden Books, from the line’s editorial director.

Reasoning that hard times have come to America (“The chickens have come home to roost, and their names are Debt, Depression, and Diabetes”), Muldrow offers this book as palliative. She gathers single illustrations from 61 Little Golden Books and adds pithy captions as anodynes, such as “Don’t panic…” (beneath Tibor Gergely’s 1948 image of a dismayed child holding detached braids) or “Have some pancakes” (Richard Scarry, 1949). Though some of her advice has a modern inflection (“Don’t forget your antioxidants!”), the pictures all come from titles published between 1942 and 1964 and so, despite the great diversity of artistic styles, have a quaint period look. Not to mention quaint period values, from views of apron-wearing housewives and pipe-smoking men (or bears) to, with but two exceptions, an all-white cast of humans. Furthermore, despite the title’s implication, the exhortations don’t always reflect the original story’s lesson or theme; rather than “Make a budget—and stick to it!” the lad in Miriam Young’s 5 Pennies To Spend (illustrated by Corinne Malvern, 1955) actually used his hoard to help others in need.

Ephemeral—unlike the art here (some of it, at least) and those fondly remembered little books. (Picture book. 12 & up)

Pub Date: Sept. 24, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-307-97761-8

Page Count: 96

Publisher: Golden Books/Random

Review Posted Online: Aug. 14, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2013

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This completely absorbing memoir follows the author from age 16, when she escaped from an abusive home in the late 1970s to become a model in New York City. Although Kelle ultimately succeeds, her path from squalor to security takes her through more abusive relationships, homelessness and a sensational murder trial. Kelle is one scrappy girl, though. With a few good friends and the timely kindness of strangers, she survives. This is a cautionary story to those who dream of similar runs to fame. James pulls no punches in her descriptions of the sexual and physical abuse she suffered at the hands of predatory men in the city and in flashback memories of her violent father. She describes a sexual attack and doesn’t shy away from innuendo in her characters’ dialogue. Stark in its honesty, the book propels readers forward with a sense of suspense worthy of a thriller. James bares her former adolescent soul and proudly celebrates her toughness, while owning up to her mistakes as well. Compelling and fascinating—a striking debut. (Memoir. 14 & up)

Pub Date: Nov. 2, 2010

ISBN: 978-1-4424-0623-0

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Sept. 15, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2010

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