Saturday, December 3, 2011

Things I have to tell you by teenage girls and edited by Betsy Franco and photographs by Nina Nickles


Franco, Betsy. Things I have to tell you by teenage girls. Massachusetts: Candlewick Press, 2001


This book is a collection of thirty poems, stories, and essays by young women age 12-18 from across the country. They tell their stories of their adolescence and how they made it through this challenging time of their life. The purpose was to give hope to everyone who reads it. The black and white photographs were how teenage girls fill their days like the mall, putting on make-up, taking a bath, and playing outside. The girls in the photographs did not read or write the poems.

Critical Analysis:

The teenage girls who wrote these poems express how they feel the world is treating them. "The poetry offers a search for their identity" (Publisher's Weekly).  Especially in relationships with friends and boys. Many of the poems have to do with the obsession of looks and being thin. Why the world stresses the ideal girl is thin. It deals with the pressures teenage girls face like sex and drugs. It talks about how they find the strength to deal with the pressures. It reminded me of my adolescence. Bad Hair Day reminded me of meeting boys the first time and Words reminded me of my father who always told me to never say "I can't". He always said it was another way of saying "I won't". I think teenage girls could really relate to reading this book of poems and prose. It would help them realize what they are going through is normal. "Teens will listen and see themselves" (Booklist).


"In allowing the words of teens from across the nation to shine through, without polishing or pushing, Franco has succeeded in compiling one of the brightest collections out there today. In a mixture of prose and poetry, the young women express their fears, dreams, relationships, and angst." School Library Journal

"The poetry and pictures offer glimpses into the writers' raw anger, budding sexuality and search for identity. Publishers Weekly

"Betsy Franco has collected the voices of a wide range of girls in poetry and immediate prose that speak with power and uncertainty....Teens will listen and see themselves." Booklist


An American Library Association Best Book for Young Adults

An American Library Association Quick Pick

An International Reading Association Young Adults' Choice

A Bank Street College Best Children's Book of the Year

Children's Literature Choice List Title

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Keesha's House by Helen Frost


Frost, Helen. Keesha's House. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2003.


Keesha's house is not actually her house. It is a safe house owned by a guy named Joe in an urban setting. He opens his house to kids who have a need to sleep somewhere safe. Teenagers who have had to run away from their homes. Keesha is the one who tells her friends in school about the house when they need somewhere to stay. The story is about seven characters. Each character has a problem and needs Keesha's house at this time in their teenage life. Each poem is written in a particular form of poetry called sesina or sonnet.
Critical Analysis:

Lisa Johannes states " The situations are real and prevalent in society, and even though they're sometimes uncomfortable to talk about and read about". The poems tell of the problems of seven teenagers. The problems include teenage pregnancy and how it effects the girl and the boy, DUI, parents throwing their child out when they find out they are gay, the foster care system and an abusive stepfather. The book tells how a teenager feels about the decisions they have made and why they need a safe place to stay. The poems are easy to read and they flow so well that you will not realize you are reading a poem that is set to rules. After reading the rules for sonnets and sestinas I am amazed that Frost could do this with all of the poems. The stories are all weaved together well because everyone of the characters must know Keesha.

Strengths & Weaknesses:

The strengths of this novel are the characters are interesting and realistic. The poems are easy to read.


"Frost has taken the poem-story to a new level with well-crafted sestinas and sonnets, leading readers into the souls and psyches of her teen protagonists...engaging." -- Starred, School Library Journal

"Spare, eloquent, and elegantly concise." -- VOYA

"This moving first novel tells the story in a series of dramatic monologues that are personal, poetic, and immediate." -- Booklist

"Impressive." -- Kirkus Reviews

"this moving first novel tells the story in a series of dramatic monologues that are personal, poetic, and immediate, with lots of line breaks that make for easy reading, alone or in readers' theater."  Booklist

"Teens may read this engaging novel without even realizing they are reading poetry." School Library Journal


2004 Printz Honor Book

White Ravens Award (2004)

American Library Association Best Books for Young Adults

Bank Street Best Children's Book of the Year

Books for the Teen Age, New York Public Library

Recorded Books Audiotape--finalist for an Audie Award