Bethany's Readers' Advisory

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

The Round House by Louise Erdrich July 11, 2013

Round HouseDuring the summer of 1988, a woman is attacked and raped on a reservation in North Dakota. She slips into a deep depression, refusing to leave her bed. Her husband and her son, Joe, try to fix things by searching for her attacker. Thirteen-year-old Joe is forced to grow up quickly that summer. His father, a tribal judge, now treats him like an adult, and Joe, with the help of his friends, tries to find the attacker and serve justice.

I was surprised by how much I liked this book. Joe’s coming-of-age story was both captivating and heartbreaking. Highly recommended for adults.

5 out of 5 stars


Maniac Magee by Jerry Spinelli January 17, 2013

Maniac MageeNo one is sure who was the first to call him Maniac.  He just appeared in town one day.  After Jeffrey Magee’s parents died in a trolly crash, he started running and didn’t stop until he arrived in Two Mills.  Along his path to finding a real home, Jeffrey meets Amanda, a book-loving girl his age, an elderly former baseball star named Grayson, the wild McNab family, and a boy nicknamed Mars Bar.  In a time when blacks and whites were separate, Maniac Magee is able see past the gap between the two sides of town and bring happiness to people he meets along the way.

This is a heartwarming story about a boy desperate to find his place in the world.  It takes place during a time when segregation was still in existence, yet Jeffrey remains colorblind and innocent to the racial tension around him.  I would recommend this to upper elementary students, especially boys, for Jeffrey’s adventurous spirit and athletic abilities.

1991 Newbery Medal Winner

5 out of 5 stars


Why We Broke Up by Daniel Handler March 22, 2012

“You either have the feeling or you don’t.”  This is written on the top of the box that Min is taking to Ed, the popular jock.  Inside the box are all of the mementos from their relationship.  Min is giving him these things; each one represents why they broke up.

The reader knows right away that Min and Ed did not belong together.  Min likes classic films, Ed plays basketball.  But they meet at a party and have an adventure-filled first date.  Min is different than all of the other girls Ed has dated.  She will not have her heart broken like the others… will she?

This book was too predictable, too formulaic.  The artwork was fun and added a unique element to the book, but not enough to save it from the ho-hum characters and plot.  I finished the book, but it was a struggle.

2012 Printz Award honor book

2 out of 5 stars


Hattie Big Sky by Kirby Larson November 13, 2011

“Being of sound mind, I do hereby leave to Hattie Inez Brooks my claim and the house and its contents, as well as one steadfast horse named Plug and a contemptible cow known as Violet.  Postscript: Bring warm clothes and a cat.”

In 1917, shortly after her friend Charlie leaves for war, 16-year-old Hattie receives a letter.  The letter is from a long-lost uncle that is dying and leaving his homestead in Montana to her.  Hattie, whose mother and father died when she was young, has long thought of herself as Hattie Here-nor-There.  She finally has a purpose, a place where she belongs.  She is not prepared for the life of a homesteader, but she learns as she goes with the help of her neighbors, the Muellers.

Homesteading life is not easy- blizzards, sickness, fires, and loss make it hard to go on.  The war wages on in Europe and hardships trickle back to the U.S.  Will Hattie be able to prove up in time?  Will her friend Charlie make it back from war?  If he does, will be the same person he was when he left?


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.


Hold Me Closer, Necromancer by Lish McBride June 28, 2011

Sam, officially Samhain Corvus LaCroix, is a college-dropout turned fry cook at Plumpy’s.  After a break-time game of potato hockey ending in a broken taillight, he gets his first look at Douglas Montgomery.  After being attacked in the Plumpy’s parking lot, he gets his second look.  You see, like Douglas, Sam is a necromancer.  Douglas is powerful and evil; Sam is clueless about his paranormal powers.  Suddenly, Sam has to deal with Douglas’s basement, a hot werewolf girl, and Ashley the Harbinger.  Sam is about to get a lesson in necromancy.

Have you been looking for the next Twilight?  Perhaps a tale of teenagers with paranormal powers… that’s well written and clever?  Look no more.  Sam has a smart mouth, good friends, and a powerful enemy.  Will he figure out what powers he has and how to use them to save the day before it’s too late?  Includes an ending that could nicely segue into a sequel.

William C. Morris Debut Award finalist


Stolen Children by Peg Kehret May 13, 2011

Filed under: ages 10-14,drama,suspense — Bethany @ 9:22 pm
Tags: , , , ,

When 14-year-old Amy takes a last-minute babysitting job, she thinks it will be an easy afternoon.  She drifts off by the pool only to wake up and realize little Kendra is missing.  When the kidnappers come back, they take Amy with them.  Amy and Kendra are taken to a hidden cabin in the woods and Amy must keep them safe and, most importantly, alive .

The kidnappers make a DVD of the girls each day to send to the families.  The kidnappers use the DVDs to ensure a ransom, but Amy realizes this is her chance to send clues to her mother, her friend Jorja, and the police.  Will Amy be able outsmart the kidnappers and lead the police to them in time?

Many of the ideas in this book were far-fetched, but I liked Amy’s quick thinking and cool head under pressure.  She had very clever ideas to plant clues in the DVDs.  If I ever had a child and she was kidnapped, I would want Amy to be there.

2010-2011 Golden Sower Award winner


Fakie by Tony Varrato

Alex and his mother left town in the middle of the night as they had so many times before.  This time they were headed south.  In the car, they talked about their new identities.  Alex decided he would be a skateboarder this time.

Things weren’t always like this.  Before Alex saw a brutal murder, before a man he put in jail wanted him dead, before he and his mother had to keep running to stay alive, life was normal.

Although many of the ideas in the book were far-fetched, Fakie had a fast-paced, suspenseful, and interesting plot.  Combined with its short length (142 pages), I would recommend it to boys, especially reluctant readers.

Golden Sower Honor Book


Savvy by Ingrid Law

Mibs (short for Mississippi) is about to turn 13.  For the Beaumonts, turning 13 is a big deal, but not because they are teenagers.  This is the day the savvy is revealed.  Her brother caused a massive hurricane on his 13th and the family was never the same.

The day before Mibs’ birthday, they find out their father has been in a major car accident and is in a coma in Salina, Kansas.  When the younger kids are left behind with the preacher’s wife, Mibs realizes her savvy could be just the thing to save her father’s life.

The Beaumont and the preacher’s kids stow away on a pink Bible bus and set out on an unexpected journey that will change all of their lives.  Will they make it in time for Mibs to save Poppa?

I didn’t love this book.  It was a decent coming-of-age story about a girl who realizes she is no longer a child with some magic thrown in.  Being a Nebraska native, I wasn’t a fan of portrayal of Nebraskans either.  (I’ve never told anyone to “get frittered.”)

2009 Newbery Honor Book

2010-2011 Golden Sower Honor Book


Penny From Heaven by Jennifer L. Holm March 8, 2011

Filed under: historical fiction — Bethany @ 10:15 pm
Tags: , , ,

The year is 1953.  Penny Falucci is eleven years old, living in New Jersey with her mother and grandparents, Me-Me and Pop-Pop.  Frankie, her cousin, is her best friend, even though he sometimes gets himself and her in trouble.  Penny’s father died when she was young, but she still gets to spend time with his big, boisterous Italian family.  Penny likes spending time with her dad’s side of the family; they actually talk about her dad, although no one will tell her how he died.  There are times during the summer of 1953 that Penny can imagine heaven; it’s filled with butter pecan ice cream, Brooklyn Dodgers baseball, and swimming pools.  After an accident, she learns her life is pretty close to heaven as it is.

A nice story about a girl growing up.  The dialogue was authentic to the setting and time and the characters were fun, especially Frankie.  Recommended for upper elementary and middle school age girls.

Newbery Honor Book


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