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‘Commentary’ Category

  1. Hijinks Abound in THE LAST BOY AT ST. EDITH’S

    March 16, 2016 by Kiersi

    The Last Boy at St. Edith's by Lee Gjertsen Malone

    Title: THE LAST BOY AT ST. EDITH’S

    Author: Lee Gjertsen Malone

    Category & Genre: Middle-grade Contemporary

    Publish Date: Out now!

    Blurb: Jeremy is the last boy remaining at an all-girls school.

    Rating: ♥♥♥♥♥ out of 5

    I received an advance copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

    To me, one of the greatest struggles faced by children’s fiction is the limiting dichotomy of “boy books” versus “girl books.” Especially in the middle-grade sphere, this strict gender exclusivity—most noticeably on the matter of boys being rarely asked or required to read narratives told by girl characters—leaves out a whole slew of important perspectives to younger readers. When our media is dominated by male stories featuring token female characters, the female perspective becomes, naturally, tokenized; and by extension, rendered unimportant. (more…)


  2. Eagar’s powerful debut, HOUR OF THE BEES

    March 8, 2016 by Kiersi

    Hour of the Bees by Lindsay Eagar

    Title: THE HOUR OF THE BEES

    Author: Lindsay Eagar

    Category & Genre: Middle-grade Magical Realism

    Publish date: March 8, 2016

    Blurb: Carol has to spend her summer on her grandfather’s ranch—when strange things start happening.

    Rating: ♥♥♥♥♥ out of 5

    Carolina didn’t know quite what she was getting into when she went with her parents, sister, and brother down to her Grandpa Serge’s sheep ranch. Carol’s skipping out on a whole summer full of having fun with her friends just to help her parents clean out the house, and move the obstinate Serge into a home. Worse, her dad—who spent the last twelve years estranged from his own father—is putting the place up for sale against Grandpa Serge’s will. (more…)


  3. Maschari’s REMARKABLE JOURNEY is a triumph

    February 23, 2016 by Kiersi

    The Remarkable Journey of Charlie Price

    Title: THE REMARKABLE JOURNEY OF CHARLIE PRICE

    Author: Jennifer Maschari

    Genre: Fantasy Middle-grade

    Publish date: Febrary 23, 2016

    Blurb: After the death of their mother, Charlie and his sister Imogen discover a secret world where Mom is still alive.

    Rating: ♥♥♥♥♥ out of 5

    Review:

    I received an ARC of this beautiful little novel in exchange for an honest review, and it is my absolute pleasure to extoll all its many virtues.

    In some ways, CHARLIE PRICE is about grief and mourning. In some ways, it’s about bravery and adventure. And in some ways, it’s about denial, hope, and redemption—and the resilience of the human heart in the face of all of it. Tackling these subjects in the middle-grade sphere can be a challenge, but Maschari writes with incredible wit, humor, and kindness. (more…)


  4. Come with tissues for PAPER WISHES

    January 5, 2016 by Kiersi

    Cover of PAPER WISHES

    Title: PAPER WISHES

    Author: Lois Sepahban

    Genre: Historical Middle-grade

    Publish date: January 5, 2016

    Blurb: A moving debut novel about a girl whose family is relocated to a Japanese internment camp during World War II–and the dog she has to leave behind.

    Rating: ♥♥♥♥♥ out of 5

    Review:

    I had the immense privilege of reading an ARC of PAPER WISHES in exchange for my honest review. But I want to warn you before you pick up this book—which you will, if you know what’s good for you—to have a big pile of tissues ready.

    I don’t make these kinds of statements lightly. Over the course of this wee little novel, I sobbed probably five or six times—big, gulping sobs, the kind that sends big, fat, raindrop-tears streaming down your face like Alice about to drown herself. That kind of sobbing. (more…)


  5. Maleficent: Lessons on Rewriting History

    June 24, 2014 by Kiersi

    Disney's Maleficent

    When I first saw ads for Disney’s Maleficent, my first thought was: Duh. Of course. Disney’s capitalizing on an existing property by retelling it from the villain’s point of view, with the necessary added bonus of lots of expensive special effects! 

    So, yeah, I was both super thrilled and totally underwhelmed by the idea of Maleficent. Because, see… I love bad guys.

    I mean, boy, do I LOVE bad guys. You have no idea. (more…)


  6. #YesAllWomen, Autonomy, & Adventure Time

    May 26, 2014 by Kiersi

    Fionna and Cake, Adventure Time

    It’s been interesting watching the #YesAllWomen hashtag unfold on Twitter. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, I think Gina Denny summed it up best:

    Every time there is a heavily publicized act of violence against women just for being women, there is an inevitable backlash of “Hey, come on. Not all men…”

    “Not all men are jerks.”
    “Not all men treat women that way.”
    “Not all men are violent psychopaths.”

    And the resounding answer is always: DUH.

    We all know that NOT ALL MEN ARE ______________. We know. But the reason we need to talk about violence against women is because even though not all men are violent psychopaths, all women have to learn the difference between a violent psychopath and a regular guy.

    She’s so absolutely, terribly right. At the age of twelve, I had my first realization that a man I’d thought was just another person could actually be a threat to me. It was someone my family knew–someone we trusted. I’ll never forget that moment of clarity when he sidled up really close to me on a bench outside the Rec Center and started breathing down my neck. Some deep, dark instinct rose to the surface inside me and I thought, “This could be bad. This could get ugly. I need to go, now.”

    And I did. (more…)


  7. What Adult Books Can Teach Kidlit Writers

    April 21, 2014 by Kiersi

    Since I started writing YA books back in 2010, the space in my life for non-children’s books continues to shrink. I want to stay on top of my industry, to support the great literature being turned out by my contemporaries, and to learn and grow as a children’s book writer.

    So for a few years, I didn’t touch a book written for audiences over 21. I kept my head inside YA, and then MG (when I started branching out as a writer), and NA.

    Until recently. My book club picked up Margaret Atwood’s dystopian MaddAddam series (containing Oryx & Crake, The Year of the Flood, and MaddAddam), and boy, was it a learning experience. I think there’s a lot missing from the YA dystopian body of work, despite how saturated it is; very few of our YA dystopians even come close to highlighting in the same stark, frank detail the problems our society will inevitably face in the future as Atwood does. Even now that we’re on the tail end of the dystopian fad in YA, I still fail to see a single YA novel that addresses corporate gluttony and food scarcity (the inevitable future of our over-populated, capitalist society) with the same honesty as the MaddAddam series. (more…)


  8. Banned Book Week: The Golden Compass

    September 25, 2013 by Kiersi

    goldencompassIt’s Banned Book Week! While I’d normally blog about hoping my own books get banned by fidgety parents someday (all publicity is good publicity, amirite?), I was encouraged by my fellow bloggesses over at YA Stands to write about a banned book for my semi-monthly blog post.

    So, I picked The Golden Compass by Philip Pullman.

    Until a friend of our family back home told me he would never let his children read it, for “atheist undertones.” I was aghast. An intelligent person–someone I respected–was going to keep this book away from his children because he was afraid they would be exposed to viewpoints other than his own; that it might influence them in some damaging way.

    Read the post here. Hope to see you over at YA Stands!


  9. A Book With A Ridiculously Long Name

    August 1, 2013 by Kiersi

    I was really late to the party when it comes to middle-grade fiction.

    I mean, really late. So late that the last middle-grade book I read was THE GIVER and I was probably twelve at the time. So, why, you probably ask, did I decide to write a middle-grade book? That was kind of dumb. (I’d agree with you.) But I’d also explain that some stories just have to be told. And this particular story, well, its two heroes were eleven- and twelve-years-old respectively. It wasn’t a story that was going to just bugger off anytime soon. I had to write it. There really wasn’t anything I could do about that total-lack-of-market-knowledge thing at the time. So I went with it and wrote it as best as I possibly could. Because that’s what writing has always been for me–an adventure into the wide unknown. I decided I would learn as I went, and revise as necessary.

    Bahahaha, current me says to past me. You fool. You know nothing, Jon Snow. (more…)


  10. Author Divas Censor Book Reviewers

    May 2, 2013 by Kiersi

    What is going on with authors this past week? It’s like spring came and the divas of the book world woke up from hibernation in full-attack mode. Remember that part where you wrote a book and then put it out there in the world? Where did it become okay to attack readers for writing honest reviews about them?

    Let’s start at the beginning, where a reviewer I follow on Goodreads posted her honest review of a vampire novel. (I’m already getting No Remorse flashbacks here, shudder.) She received a free copy of the book in exchange for her honest review. That should be where this story ends. I mean, I don’t even know why I have to go on here.

    Instead of backing away and leaving it at that, the author of said vampire novel, P. J. Dominicis, wrote an email to her “literary idol” Anne Rice, asking for… I’m not sure what, actually. Emotional support, I guess? That doesn’t really bother me much; authors are people too, and reading a negative review can be a trying experience. (Though, if I were to give any advice here, it’s just… don’t read them, bro, and spare yourself the experience.) (more…)