Bethany's Readers' Advisory

The place to go for readers' advisory on books for children, teens, and adults

The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks by E. Lockhart August 28, 2011

Frankie “Bunny Rabbit” Landau-Banks attends Alabaster preparatory school.  During her freshman year, her sister, Zada, watched out for her and introduced her to all the right people.  Now Frankie is a sophomore and her sister is away at college.  Luckily for Frankie, who was formerly invisible, she developed over the summer into a curvy, attractive young woman.  She has a crush on popular senior, Matthew Livingston.  After a bike accident where Matthew comes to her rescue, she is thrilled when he invites her to a party.  On the invitations, she notices a peculiar symbol, a basset hound.  She is reminded of talks with her father and his wealthy friends, alumni of Alabaster.  They constantly dropped hints about a secret society, The Loyalty of the Basset Hounds.

As Frankie finds out more about the Basset Hounds, she wants to be a part of it.  She wants to be included in her boyfriend’s life, instead of being seen as the adorable girlfriend who tags along.  She begins to do some digging, some planning.  This innocent girl is about to become a criminal mastermind.

This was a Printz honor book and a National Book Award honor book.  It was funny, smart, and entertaining.  Highly recommended for older teens and adults.


Good Enough by Paula Yoo

Patti knows how to make her Korean parents happy.  All she has to do is become concertmaster of the All-State violins, score a 2300 on her SATs, get As in all of her AP classes, and get into Harvard, Yale, and Princeton (or, as her parents say, HARVARDYALEPRINCETON).  To do all this, she can’t have any distractions, especially not the Cute Trumpet Guy she meets right before All-State tryouts who also happens to be in her homeroom.  She should ignore the hair that falls into his eyes, their mutual love of music, and that he makes her wonder if she really wants to go to HARVARDYALEPRINCETON after all.

Patti will have to decide if she wants be the P.K.D. (perfect Korean daughter) or to do what she wants and be good enough.

This book was enjoyable but not unique.  Patti is the only child of Korean parents with high expectations; she has always tried to be the perfect daughter, but she realizes the choices she’s making aren’t necessarily what she wants for her life.  And of course, there’s the cute boy that she likes but he doesn’t like her in that way.  I liked the handwritten lists she makes and the occasional Korean recipes included. Recommended for a light read for middle and high school girls.

2011-2012 Golden Sower Award nominee


11 Birthdays by Wendy Mass

Friends Amanda and Leo have celebrated their birthdays together since they learned to walk.  Now it is time for them to turn 11, but this time they will be celebrating separately.  Amanda and Leo haven’t spoken for a year after Amanda overheard Leo say something she can’t forget.

Amanda just wants her birthday to be over.  She doesn’t want to wear the itchy costume her mother picked out and see that everyone has chosen to go to Leo’s party instead.  But when Amanda wakes up the next morning, it is her birthday all over again.  Will this miserable day ever end?

This was a cute, quick read about friendship and second chances.  It was a little cheesy in parts, but you were rooting for things to work out between Amanda and Leo.  I would recommend this to middle school girls.


Carpe Diem by Autumn Cornwell

Vassar Spore is a 16-year-old with a plan.  Her plan includes graduating as her elite high school’s valedictorian, earning her PhD, and eventually winning a Pulitzer Prize.  One rainy night in May, her plan is interrupted in a major way.  Her artistic grandma, whom she has never met, calls and blackmails Vassar’s parents into sending Vassar to travel with her grandmother for the summer in Southeast Asia.  With her only consolation the challenge of figuring out the Big Secret her grandmother is holding over her parents, Vassar spends the summer in humid, dangerous, unsanitary places with her grandmother and an obnoxious Malaysian wannabe cowboy that has appointed himself her bodyguard.  Can Vassar, who has had every moment of her life planned, learn to LIM (live in the moment)?

I like books about travel, and this gave me a glimpse of what it might be like to travel in southeast Asia.  Vassar’s superiority complex got old, but her inability to relax and enjoy the moment was relatable.  The ending was predictable; the main character learns about herself and what she wants in life.  Good for overachieving teen girls who want to dream about being whisked away and live a carefree lifestyle.


Stuck in Neutral by Terry Trueman August 7, 2011

Shawn McDaniel is 14 years old.  He is a genius, but no one knows.  Shawn has cerebral palsy and cannot talk or move.  Despite all this, he is happy.  He has one small worry, though.  He is pretty sure his dad is planning to kill him.  When Shawn was little and started having terrible seizures, his dad couldn’t handle it.  Shawn’s father, the Pulitzer Prize winning poet, left the family because he couldn’t bear to watch Shawn in pain.  Shawn isn’t in pain; in fact, he enjoys his seizures.  But he can’t tell anyone, not even if it means saving his own life.

Stuck in Neutral was a unique look at the profoundly developmentally disabled.  Doctors assume that people with Shawn’s condition do not know what’s going on around them, but what if that isn’t the case?  In the author’s note, Trueman reveals that he has a son with cerebral palsy.  Trueman invented the character based on what life might be like for his son.  This is a heart wrenching look at those who cannot speak for themselves and the assumptions of those around them.


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