Book Review: “M OR F?” by Lisa Papademetriou and Chris Tebbetts

by Wendy M. McDonald

MorF.pngFrom the back cover: When Frannie is desperate to get the attention of her crush, her fabulous (and gay) best friend Marcus suggests that Frannie chat with him online. Too bad Frannie’s terrified. She won’t type a word without Marcus’s help. 

In the chat room, Marcus and Jeffrey hit it off. But the more Marcus writes, the more he’s convinced that Jeffrey is falling for him, not Frannie. Whose romance is this anyway?

If you’re already familiar with the basic plot of a Cyrano de Bergerac story, set your expectations aside. Yes, M or F? hits all the right beats, but Lisa Papademetriou and Chris Tebbetts add several of their own. Continue reading

Book Clubs—Not Just for Adults or Bookworms! A 7-Year Kids’ Book Club Veteran Shares Her Best Tips

by Wendy M. McDonald

IN 2010, AS MY DAUGHTERS finished first grade, I realized there was a huge difference in their reading abilities. Hermione was a voracious, confident reader, but Luna clung to Picture1.pngher step-one readers. Witnessing her twin zip through the Geronimo Stilton series and anything else she could find, Luna felt jealous and more than a little hopeless. She had
a collection of books she wanted to read, but was too afraid to try. The letters were too tiny. There were few—or no—illustrations. The long blocks of text may as well have been Mt. Everest.

I decided that not being able to read at grade level—yet—was no reason for Luna not to enjoy the stories that interested her. I would read to her, and she could read ahead whenever she wanted. But wouldn’t it be even better if a bunch of Luna’s friends read (or heard) the same book and I got the kids together to talk about it, just like a regular book club?

If you’d like to start your own kids’ or teens’ book club, I offer these tips based on what I’ve learned during my seven years leading a successful group. Continue reading