Romiette and Julio-Sharon Draper

I have liked every single one of Drapers books that I have read.  This book is great because it plays off of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet by having two teens of different races dating.  It has gangs, some violence, and deals with race issues in a very real way.  Draper catches readers’ (esp teens) attention quickly and moves the story along.  This story is told through a variety of genres.  I would use this in a 9th or 10th grade classroom.  It is very easy to read, but has important themes.

Draper has a study guide for this novel on her website.

Whale Talk- Chris Crutcher

I just finished reading this book almost entirely straight through.  I found it interesting, engaging, and felt it touched on several key issues for teens today.  The protagonist is a 17 year old male, and is multi-racial.  The book deals with racism, child abuse, domestic violence, sexual assault, the mentally handicapped, the physically handicapped, obesity, and the general need for acceptance that most teens can relate to.  I thought the characters were likeable and easy to relate to.  There are even great multi-syllable vocabulary words- thanks to one brainiac character.  The novel revolves around a make-shift swim team, so it may be of interest to swimmers, or other athletes- especially those who don’t play the “big sports” like football, basketball, and soccer or hockey.  I could see this being a book that is used as a classroom read for 9th-12th graders.  The language is easily understandable, but the themes are complex enough for any high school student to glean meaning from.


ALA Popular Paperbacks for YA 2005

ABC Children’s Booksellers Choices Award 2002

Washington State Book Award 2002

Pacific Northwest Booksellers Award 2002

Outstanding Sports Book Award/YA 2002

ALA Best Book for YA

TLA Tayshas List

New York Public Library Books for the Teen Age

ALA Top 10 Best Books for YA

Book Sense 76 Pick