About Janie

Author Archive | Janie

Absolutely Almost by Lisa Graff

Absolutely Almost by Lisa Graff.  Penguin, 2014, 305 pages. Reading Level: Middle Grades, ages 10-12 Bottom Line: Absolutely Almost is a reassuring tale for middle graders who fear they are hopelessly academically challenged, with a relatable and likeable hero. Albie’s mother always tells him he is “caring, thoughtful, and good.” But he’s not smart, a […]

Read full story · Comments { 0 }

*Pioneer Girl: the Annotated Autobiography by Laura Ingalls Wilder

*Pioneer Girl: the Annotated Autobiography by Laura Ingalls Wilder (edited by Pamela Smith Hill). University of South Dakota Press, 2014. 400 pages. Reading Level: Adults, ages 16-up Recommended for: ages 12-15, 16-up Bottom Line: Laura Ingalls Wilder’s own account of her growing-up years shows how life became art and is a must for fans of […]

Read full story · Comments { 3 }

Absolutely Truly by Heather Vogel

Absolutely Truly by Heather Vogel Frederick. Simon & Shuster, 2014. 354 pages. Reading Level: Middle Grades, ages 10-12 Recommended For: ages 10-12 and up Bottom Line: Absolutely Truly begins a fun and wholesome mystery series for middle graders set in Pumpkin Falls, New Hampshire. If you live in Austin, Texas, where the sun is hot […]

Read full story · Comments { 0 }

*You Are (Not) Small by Anna Kang

*You Are (Not) Small by Anna Kang, illustrated by Christopher Weyant.  Two Lions (Amazon), 2014. 30 pages. Reading Level: Easy Readers, ages 4-8 Recommended For: ages 0-4 Bottom Line: Beginning readers will love this confrontation between two hairy creatures that proves size is relative. You are small, says one bear-like critter to another.  And from […]

Read full story · Comments { 0 }

All for Love? Five Red Flags to Watch for in YA Christian Romance Fiction

I remember when Jeanette Oke and “deliverance” stories were about the only options teenage girls had if they wanted to read some Christian romance. The inventory has greatly expanded and almost every secular literary genre now has its Christian counterpart, especially for girls. Does she like historical, cozy mystery, fantasy, paranormal, sci-fi, lighthearted chick-lit (all […]

Read full story · Comments { 4 }

Running Lean By Diana Sharples

Running Lean by Diana Sharples.  Zondervan/Blink, 2013.  400 pages. Reading Level: Young Adults, ages 12-15 Recommended For: ages 16 and up Bottom Line: Running Lean deals sensitively with teen love and the complications brought to it by anorexia. Calvin Greenlee, 17, suffered the worst blow of his life when his brother Michael was killed in […]

Read full story · Comments { 0 }

The Sherwood Ring by Elizabeth Pope

The Sherwood Ring by Elizabeth Pope.  Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2001.  272 pages Reading Level: Young Adults, ages 12-15 Maturity Level: 5 (ages 12-14) and up Bottom Line: In this classic YA novel originally published in 1958, four ghosts from Revolutionary War days teach a lonely young woman about romance. Peggy Grahame, latest in an unbroken […]

Read full story · Comments { 3 }

The Four Loves by C. S. Lewis: an Introduction

This thing called “love”—what is it? Something we long for, feel vague stirrings about, idolize, draw inspiration from, and abuse left and right. It’s unpredictable, stunning, fragile, overwhelming. And more misunderstood and lied-about than any other human emotion. No human has a comprehensive grasp of love, but if you’re looking for some thought-provoking handles, The […]

Read full story · Comments { 1 }

The 2015 ALA Youth Media Awards

Yesterday morning, the American Library Association announced their annual Youth Media Awards—which include, as any devotee of children’s literature knows, the celebrated Newbery and Caldecott medals. Last year Betsy and I discussed some of the books that appeared to be in the running (it’s always a big secret) and made our predictions—which weren’t too far […]

Read full story · Comments { 0 }

Peter Spier, Reissued

We met over my children’s downy heads. That is, when the kids were little (one was born in 1975, the other in 1978), Peter Spier was publishing his most popular and enduring picture books. He himself is enduring: at 87, he was able to help restore the coloring to some of the picture books that […]

Read full story · Comments { 2 }

*Noah’s Ark by Peter Spier

*Noah’s Ark illustrated by Peter Spier. Doubleday, 1976 (original publication; reissued 2015). 44 pages. Reading Level: Picture Books, ages 0-4 Maturity Level: suitable for all Bottom Line: Noah’s Ark, Peter Spier’s classic wordless picture book, takes a Bible story that’s often given too cute a portrayal and adds imagination, depth, and reverence. Doubleday/Random House has […]

Read full story · Comments { 2 }