Johnny Swanson

The secret to instant height?  Stand on a box.Want to make your money go further? Roll it down a hill.The answer to smelly feet? Wear a clothes pin on your nose.Eleven-year-old Johnny Swanson is in business. He’s raking in the money with his advertising scams and his advice columnist persona, who offers advice on absolutely anything in return for a shilling. But his money-making schemes are getting him in too deep with the wrong kinds of people. Everything is spiralling out of control, and now his own mother is in mortal danger. There’s only one thing to be done: Johnny must assume another role as undercover detective!In the spirit of Roald Dahl, this is a funny and delightful story with a satisfying mystery, a wonderful cast of characters, and an unlikely but completely likeable hero.

Orchards

After a classmate commits suicide, Kana Goldberg—a half-Japanese, half-Jewish American—wonders who is responsible. She and her cliquey friends said some thoughtless things to the girl. Hoping that Kana will reflect on her behavior, her parents pack her off to her mother’s ancestral home in Japan for the summer. There Kana spends hours under the hot sun tending to her family’s mikan orange groves.Kana’s mixed heritage makes it hard to fit in at first, especially under the critical eye of her traditional grandmother, who has never accepted Kana’s father. But as the summer unfolds, Kana gets to know her relatives, Japan, and village culture, and she begins to process the pain and guilt she feels about the tragedy back home. Then news about a friend sends her world spinning out of orbit all over again.

See the review at WOW Review, Volume IV, Issue 4

Wonderland

She’s back. Jude’s childhood friend sexy, daring Stella returns to their stifling hometown, and life will never be the same again. Sixteen-year-old Jude has to get out of tiny Churchtown. She has to escape her outcast status and her pathetic dad, who hasn’t gotten past her mother’s death. The one bright light is drama, her way out, if only she can get into the Lab, a prestigious program in London. Then Stella, Jude’s childhood best friend, swaggers in after years away. With bold and magnetic Stella by her side, Jude knows she’s capable of anything. But Stella’s influence extends well beyond the theater. Soon Stella’s wild and dangerous streak begins to cause trouble for Jude yet Jude can’t bring herself to abandon Stella and the attention she’s always craved. And besides, now that Stella’s back, there’s no stopping her. In Jude’s dark and tangled story, British author Joanna Nadin plumbs the aftermath of loss and the consequences of becoming the person you always wished you were.

The Present Tense of Prinny Murphy

  An alcoholic mother, a distracted father, a best friend who spends all his time with his new “girlfriend,” and three relentless schoolyard bullies: Prinny Murphy’s past, present, and future certainly are “tense.” Adding to her misery, she still can’t read well enough to escape from remedial lessons with the dour Mrs. Dooks. But when a kindly substitute teacher introduces her to LaVaughn’s inner-city world in the free verse novel, Make Lemonade, Prinny discovers that life can be full of possibilities – and poetry.