10 Novels in Free Verse #NationalPoetryMonth #WhatsOnYourBookshelfChallenge #LoveThatDog [Book Review]

April 22, 2022

10 Novels in Free Verse

Do You Have Novels in Free Verse on Your Bookshelf?

April is National Poetry Month: 10 Favorite MG and YA Novels in Free Verse (white text over a background of an open poetry book and a cup of coffee)

Today for the April #WhatsOnYourBookshelfChallenge I’m focusing on Middle Grade (MG) and Young Adult (YA) Novels in Free Verse.

It’s National Poetry Month in April and I’ve featured three poems on the blog this month: The Lanyard, Refugee Blues, and The Rain Stick. However, my favorite form of poetry is a novel in free verse.

A Poet’s Glossary defines books in verse as “A novel in poetry. A hybrid form, the verse novel filters the devices of fiction through the medium of poetry.”

For today’s post I’m reviewing an old favorite (one that I used in my classroom), and I’m listing a few of my favorite novels in free verse.

You might notice that this list is comprised of Middle Grade and Young Adult titles (that all adults will enjoy). I think a novel in free verse appeals especially to reluctant MG and YA readers. They are usually quick reads and seem more personal and accessible. Some of these selections are more poetic than others.

Do you have a favorite novel in free verse?
Have you ever read a novel in free verse?

***Titles in this post are links to my reviews or Amazon affiliate links.


Love That Dog by Sharon Creech [Review]

MG Contemporary Fiction. Heartfelt. A Boy and his dog. Teaching poetry.

Love That Dog by Sharon Creech (cover) Image: a hand drawn dog on a yellow background

My Thoughts:

One book I used in my class when I taught fifth grade was Love That Dog by Sharon Creech.

I used this heartfelt story to introduce a poetry unit.

In the beginning of the story, Jack is convinced that he cannot write poetry. Boys don’t write poetry! With a bit of courage, his teacher’s gentle and persistent encouragement, and using models of wonderful poems, Jack discovers that he can write poetry….especially poetry when his beloved yellow dog, Sky, is the subject.

I love that the back of the book contains several selections of poetry from the teacher’s lessons (which are inferred and not presented). After the lesson, Jack attempts to write his own poetry by using the models. As a class, we flipped to the back of the book and read the model poem before we read Jack’s attempt so that we could notice how the famous poem had affected Jack’s writing process…I also gently and casually inserted elements of poetry for discussion. It was one of our favorite lessons!

As a bonus, it’s a wonderful text for teaching inference as we only hear the story from Jack’s POV and we need to infer the teacher’s part.

Throughout the story, Jack grows in his ability to write poetry and his final poem about Sky is emotional and memorable. I read this as a read aloud over several days (each student also had a copy of the book to follow along) and the entire class was in tears at the end (including me!).

For the full emotional experience, I honestly think that this book is best consumed as a read aloud (parent/child, teacher/class).

Can you tell this book makes my teacher heart happy?!

This is a sweet story that an adult can read in one sitting. If you’ve ever had a beloved dog as a child, have tissues handy!

If you’re a teacher, use this as an intro to poetry! You’re welcome.


Other Novels in Free Verse


Paper Hearts (YA) by Meg Wiviott

YA Historical Fiction. On my lifetime favorites list. Simply beautiful. Review is linked in title.

Paper Hearts by Meg Wiviott (cover)

Inside Out and Back Again (MG) by Thanhha Lai

MG Historical Fiction. Refugee and Immigrant story. Brief review is linked in title…scroll down page.

Inside Out & Back Again y Thannha Lai (cover) ....a girl holding onto a tree trunk with one hand on a breezy day

Brown Girl Dreaming (MG) by Jaqueline Woodson

MG Nonfiction. Childhood Memoir. Diverse Read. Review is linked in title.

Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson (cover)

Clap When You Land (YA) by Elizabeth Acevedo

YA Contemporary Fiction. Diverse Read. Review is linked in title.

Clap When You Land by Elizabeth Acevedo (cover)

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Tweet Cute [Book Review] #ThrowBackThursday

April 21, 2022

Tweet Cute by Emma Lord
#throwbackthursday

Tween Cute by Emma Lord (cover) Image: two apartment buildings with a teen in each using social media on their phones

 

Genre/Categories/Setting: Contemporary Young Adult Fiction, Family Life, YA RomCom, Coming of Age, New York City

Welcome to Throwback Thursday where I highlight an older review or post a current review of an old read. Today, I’m re-sharing a sweet YA romcom, Tweet Cute by Emma Lord. (It’s my fav of her three books.)

I’m linking up today with Davida @ The Chocolate Lady’s Book Review Blog for #throwbackthursday.

*This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

My Summary:

grilled cheese sandwichThe setting is New York City. Pepper (Patricia) is the swim team captain at her private school, achievement-focused, and a perfectionist. Her family owns a large fast-food burger chain, and Pepper runs the twitter account. Jack is a classmate and fellow swim team member. He secretly develops apps, enjoys being a class clown, and experiences episodes of sibling rivalry with his twin brother. Jack’s family owns a small downtown deli. A few things happen to put the story in motion: the big burger chain copies (steals) Jack’s family’s grilled cheese sandwich, a twitter war ensues that Jack and Pepper instigate and fuel, and Jack and Pepper find themselves becoming close friends on the school’s app where identities remain anonymous.

You’ve Got Mail meets Tell Me Three Things meets With the Fire on High….

Continue here for my full review of Tweet Cute..



QOTD:

Have you read Tweet Cute or is it on your TBR?

 

I Must Betray You [Book Review] #YoungAdult #WhatsOnYourBookshelfChallenge

March 18, 2022

I Must Betray You by Ruta Sepetys

Are You Young at Heart?
Do You Have YA Fiction on Your Bookshelf?

I Must Betray You by Ruta Sepetys (cover) Image: in a muted blue toned picture, a person walks alone under turbulent skies toward a palace with a flag

Today for the March #WhatsOnYourBookshelfChallenge I’m focusing on “Young Adult” fiction as I bring you a review of I Must Betray You by Ruta Sepetys.

Every year, I commit to reading a few YA fiction titles. One of my favorite YA histfic authors is Ruta Sepetys….and I’m proud to declare myself a Sepetys completist! You may be familiar with her back list: Salt to the Sea, Between Shades of Gray, The Fountains of Silence, and Out of the Easy.

Following today’s review, I’ll list a few of my favorite YA titles.

Do you have a favorite YA author or recomendation?

***This post contains Amazon affiliate links.


I Must Betray You by Ruta Sepetys

Genre/Categories/Setting: Young Adult Historical Fiction, Romania, Communism, Freedom

My Summary:

In 1989, Romania is ruled by dictator, Nicalae Ceausescu. Seventeen-year-old Cristian along with other citizens of Romania deal with intimidation, isolation, fear, repression, hunger, blackmail, informants, and having no voice. Cristian is forced into the impossible situation of betraying friends and family. He hears rumors of revolution and yearns to join it. But what can a young man do? How can he make a difference? How will he make his voice heard?

My Thoughts:

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When You Get the Chance [Book Review]

February 25, 2022

When You Get the Chance by Emma Lord

When You Get the Chance by Emma Lord (cover) Image: white text over the background graphic of a girl with long brown hair dressed in a hot pink crop top and jeans....against a hot pink background with a sprinkling of yellow stars

Genre/Categories/Setting: Young Adult Contemporary Fiction, Musical Theater, Coming of Age, New York City

*This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

My Summary:

Millie Price is a high school senior and is obsessed with musical theater. In her determination to follow her dream, she applies to a competitive program that will jumpstart her career as a Broadway star. Her usually supportive father is against the idea and won’t sign the paperwork. Millie has been raised by her single dad and her bio mom has never been a part of her life. So, Millie plans to find her bio mom who works in theater so she can persuade her to sign the papers. (even though she has no legal guardianship of Millie and Millie doesn’t even know her name….so suspension of disbelief is required here). At the same time, Millie is also persuing a summer internship in the theater world. Competing for the same internship is Oliver her rival from drama club. Will Millie secure the internship? Will she get the signature she needs to finalize her acceptance into the elite program? Will she find her bio mom? And what about Oliver?

My Thoughts:

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Lovely War [Book Review] #ThrowBackThursday

January 6,  2022

Lovely War by Julie Berry
#throwbackthursday

Lovely War cover

Genre/Categories: YA or NA Historical Fiction, WW1, Romance/Love Story, Mythology

In 2020, I decided to systematically revisit my older review posts and update them. On Thursdays, I’ll be re-sharing a few of these great reads. Today, I’m re-sharing a creatively structured WW1 Historical Fiction story, Lovely War by Julie Berry.

I’m linking up today with Davida @ The Chocolate Lady’s Book Review Blog for #throwbackthursday.

*This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

My Summary:

Is love more powerful than war?

“During the years of WW1, Hazel, a shy and talented pianist meets James, a handsome soldier, at a dance. He’s shipping out to the front in a week. Is this enough time to fall in love? Two more characters round out the cast: Colette, a gifted singer from Belgium, and Aubrey, a member of the all African-American regiment and a gifted musician. The Greek gods narrate this story of love, music, and war.”

A story of love, music, and war….

Continue here for my full review of Lovely War…



QOTD:

Have you read Lovely War or is it on your TBR?

All I Want For Christmas is the Girl Next Door [Book Review]

October 27, 2021

All I Want For Christmas is the Girl Next Door by Chelsea Bobulski

All I Want For Christmas is the Girl Next Door by Chelsea Bobulski (cover) Image: white text on a red background.....a scene of snow and small homes at the bottom margin

Genre/Categories/Setting: Fiction, Contemporary Romance. YA, Christmas, Virginia

*This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

My Summary:

Thanks #NetGalley @WiseWolfBooks for a complimentary eARC of #AllIWantForChristmasIsTheGirlNextDoor upon my request. All opinions are my own.

Sixteen-year-old Graham has been in love with Sarah, the girl next door, for several years. However, she’s been dating his best friend for the last two years. Graham makes a wish upon a star….all he wants for Christmas is Sarah. In the morning, Graham wakes to a new reality…..he is the one that has been dating Sarah for two years, not his best friend. As he spends more time with Sarah, he wonders whether or not they are right for each other. Further complicating the situation is that Graham is spending a lot of enjoyable time with the new girl in town.

My Thoughts:

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The Fountains of Silence [Book Review] #ThrowBackThursday

October 21, 2021

The Fountains of Silence by Ruta Sepetys
#throwbackthursday

The Fountains of Silence Review

Genre/Categories/Setting: Historical Fiction, Post Spanish Civil War Spain, YA, Family, Love Story

In 2020, I decided to systematically revisit my older review posts and update them. On Thursdays, I’ll be re-sharing a few of these great reads. Today, I’m re-sharing a compelling historical fiction story from one of my favorite authors, The Fountains of Silence by Ruta Sepetys.

I’m linking up today with Davida @ The Chocolate Lady’s Book Review Blog for #throwbackthursday.

*This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

My Summary:

“In 1957, Madrid, Spain is under the control of the fascist dictator General Francisco Franco. While citizens endure harsh conditions of the dictatorship after the Spanish Civil War, tourists experience another version of life in Spain as they enjoy parties and wine at the Hilton Hotel. Eighteen-year-old Daniel is a hotel guest, a photographer, and the son of a Texas oil tycoon; his mother was born in Spain and Daniel is eager to visit her homeland. Ana works at the hotel as a maid. Daniel and Ana meet and fall in love. While Ana is simultaneously intrigued by American life and concerned for her family, Daniel sets his mind to capture the real Spain in photos and finds himself investigating the plight of stolen children. The circumstances surrounding their love story are difficult for them to navigate.”

Family…love…silence…secrets…

Continue here for my full review of The Fountains of Silence



QOTD:

Have you read The Fountains of Silence or is it on your TBR?

 

Firekeeper’s Daughter [Book Review]

July 16, 2021

Firekeeper’s Daughter by Angeline Boulley

The Firekeeper's Daughter by Angeline Boulley (cover) Image: profiles of a young man and woman in cultural adornments

Genre/Categories/Setting: Indigenous Culture, YA (or NA), Contemporary Fiction/Mystery/Thriller, Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, Diverse Reads

*This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

My Summary:

Eighteen-year-old Daunis Fontaine is biracial and living between two worlds near the Ojibwe reservation on Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. Daunis plays hockey, dreams of studying medicine, falls for Jamie (a new recruit on her brother’s hockey team), and worries about the effect of drugs in her community. Life becomes complicated and Daunis puts her dreams on hold to be there for her family and community. After witnessing a senseless and tragic murder, Daunis finds herself caught up in a criminal investigation and reluctantly agrees to work undercover. With her knowledge of chemistry and native traditional medicine, she is a great asset to the FBI and helps with the investigation even when it involves those close to her. Daunis is committed to confronting the corruption, protecting her community, and standing with the strong Ojibwe women. The story is complex and relevant and filled with the language, ceremonies, and traditions of the indigenous culture.

My Thoughts:

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Paper Hearts [Book Review] #ThrowBackThursday

May 20, 2021

Paper Hearts by Meg Wiviott
#throwbackthursday

Paper Hearts by Meg Wiviott (cover) Image: hand stitched title on a blue background...stitched star in upper left corner

Genre/Categories: WW11, Holocaust, Jewish, Young Adult, Poetry (free verse), Friendship, Survival

In 2020, I decided to systematically revisit my older review posts and update them. On Thursdays, I’ll be re-sharing a few of these great reads. Today, I’m re-sharing a review of the poignant and compelling Paper Hearts by Meg Wiviott, a title on my lifetime favorites list.

I’m linking up today with Davida @ The Chocolate Lady’s Book Review Blog for #throwbackthursday.

*This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

My Summary:

“In Paper Hearts, two unforgettable girls find themselves tragically imprisoned at Auschwitz during the Holocaust and become friends. Through the bonds of friendship and a bit of defiance, Zlatka and Fania find threads of hope and a will to live. In this true story, Zlatka, along with the help of a few other girls, masterminds making a surprise birthday card for Fania. A secret project that would be a crime punishable by death if caught, each girl signed the paper hearts card with her hopes and wishes for happiness, love, and freedom. This heart is a symbol of defiance and is one of the few artifacts created in Auschwitz that has survived and can be seen today in the Montreal Holocaust Memorial Centre in Canada and in the image below.”

a beautiful, memorable, and gently written story of friendship and survival…

Continue here for my full review of Paper Hearts ….

Hamdmade collection of heartshaped paper: Holocaust artifact



QOTD:

Have you read Paper Hearts or is it on your TBR?

The Fountains of Silence by Ruta Sepetys [Book Review]

March 17, 2021

 The Fountains of Silence by Ruta Sepetys

The Fountains of Silence Review

Genre/Categories: Historical Fiction, Post Spanish Civil War Spain, YA, Family, Love Story

*This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

My Summary:

Family…love…silence…secrets…

Thank you, #NetGalley @PenguinUKBooks @The_WriteReads for my complimentary e arc of #FountainsOfSilence upon my request. All opinions are my own. I’ve previously published a review for the U.S. release, and this review is for the U.K. paperback edition which has a different cover.

Fountains of Silence by Ruta Sepetys (cover) Image: a large old black key lies over a large red X...small black images of a male and female and a building rest on the horizontal key

In 1957, Madrid, Spain is under the control of the fascist dictator General Francisco Franco. While citizens endure harsh conditions of the dictatorship after the Spanish Civil War, tourists experience another version of life in Spain as they enjoy parties and wine at the Hilton Hotel. Eighteen-year-old Daniel is a hotel guest, a photographer, and the son of a Texas oil tycoon; his mother was born in Spain and Daniel is eager to visit her homeland. Ana works at the hotel as a maid. Daniel and Ana meet and fall in love. While Ana is simultaneously intrigued by American life and concerned for her family, Daniel sets his mind to capture the real Spain in photos and finds himself investigating the plight of stolen children. The circumstances surrounding their love story are difficult for them to navigate.

My Thoughts:

(more…)