Posted by: Kathy Temean | September 23, 2009

Three Very Different Books – Three Great Reads

This summer the NJSCBWI had dinner with three very hip editors from Little, Brown & Company – TS Ferguson, Connie Hsu, and Kate Sullivan.  It was a fun dinner with a lot of conversation and a good time was had by all.  One of the things they did for us was to offer some of the books from their fall list.  While I was on vacation, I got to read three of them.  I thought you might like to pick up one of them or all three, because each was very well-written and a great read.  Listed below in the order read.

hate list

HATE LIST:  I picked this book up first, because of TS, his enthusiasm and the fact that it was YA.  As soon as I opened the book, I wanted to take the journey with Valerie and what she faced after her boyfriend Nick opened fire on the students in their school.  Even though Valerie tried to stop him and inadvertently saved the life of a classmate by getting shot herself, she was implicated in the shootings because of a hate list she helped to create.  The same list Nick used to pick his targets. It was just a simple list.  She thought it was only for venting her anger from the pain inflicted on her and Nick by various students in school.  But Nick thought otherwise, he shot and killed a teacher and a number of students, before turning the gun on himself.  Leaving Valerie with a leg wound, weeks in the hospital, a summer in seclusion and her life in shambles. When school starts she returns to complete her senior year, which forces her to confront her guilt and face the real healing process.   She not only has to deal with her own demons, but also the demons that linger in the other students and school from the horrific act the boy she loved perpetrated.  

If you decide to read this book,  please let me know what you thought of the ending.  I will post my thoughts and others after I hear from some of you.  If you want to read the first chapter of HATE LIST by Jennifer Brown, you can read the first chapter on her blog:

Read Interview:

Selected by Indie Booksellers for the Autumn 2009 Kids’ Indie Next List

 I see Hollywood movie written all over this one.


confetti girlCONFETTI GIRL:  I picked this one up next, because of the cover and because it is a middle grade book and I am writing a middle grade book, right now.  The cover is very colorful and it made me think it would be a fun book to read, which is probably what the designers were trying to convey.  The book and the cover did not disappoint me.

Apolonia “Lina”Flores is a sock enthusiast, a volleyball player, a science lover, and a Latino girl who’s just looking for answers after her mother’s death.  Her dad seems to care about books more than her.  Her best friend’s divorced mom is obsessed with making cascarones – hollowed eggshells filled with colorful confetti.  I was not familiar with cascarones, they sound like a lot of fun and I am glad Diana López  included them in her book.  I think I will make a few myself. Here’s hoping Diana’s book makes cascarones as mainstream as piñatas and salsa.

This debut author has written a clever and honest story about a young Latina girl navigating through the growing pains of her life.  Cynthia Leitich Smith has a wonderful interview with Diana on her blog Cynsations

 The only mistake I can see that Diana López has made is not having a website up and running that I can point you to, but I am sure she must be working to get that job done.


Where the MountainWHERE THE MOUNTAIN MEETS THE MOON:  This is a gorgeous  high-quality designed book with beautiful artwork throughout, so you would think I would have picked this one up first, so why was it last?  Connie was just as enthusiastic as TS, so why?  The reason: I tend not to like folktales.  This reminds me of the time I let Jerry Spinelli’s book MILKWEED sit on my shelf for months, because I knew it was about the Holocaust.  That was a mistake then and it was a mistake this time, too.  I can see this book winning many awards, not only is it a beautiful looking book, but it is a beautiful story that is beautifully told.  I think having the three B’s all in one book is a formula for success. On top of that, Grace Lin has written and illustrated this book.  She is a very talented lady.

In the valley of Fruitless Mountain, a young girl named Minli lives in a ramshackle hut with her parents. In the evenings, her father regales her with old folktales of the Jade Dragon and the Old Man on the Moon, who knows the answers to all of life’s questions. Inspired by these stories, Minli sets off on an extraordinary journey to find the Old Man on the Moon to ask him how she can change her family’s fortune. She encounters an assorted cast of characters and magical creatures along the way, including a dragon who accompanies her on her quest for the ultimate answer.

Grace Lin, author of the beloved Year of the Dog and Year of the Rat, returns with a wondrous story of adventure, faith, and friendship. A fantasy crossed with Chinese folklore, Where the Mountain Meets the Moon is a timeless story reminiscent of The Wizard of Oz and worthy of a special spot in your bookcase. 

Selected by Indie Booksellers for the Autumn 2009 Kids’ Indie Next List

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