My Life as a Book

Janet Tashjian, Author, Jake Tashjian, Illustrator
Janet Tashjian, illus. by Jake Tashjian, Holt/Ottaviano, $16.99 (224p) ISBN 978-0-8050-8903-5
Open Ebook - 224 pages - 978-1-4299-3032-1
Prebound-Glued - 211 pages - 978-0-606-23752-9
Prebound-Glued - 211 pages - 978-1-61383-333-9
Paperback - 224 pages - 978-957-32-7274-8
Paperback - 211 pages - 978-0-312-67289-8
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When 12-year-old Derek discovers an old newspaper article in his attic about a girl "found dead" on a beach, he becomes obsessed, especially when he learn the teenager may have died saving him from the ocean when he was just a toddler. Derek is a mischievous boy who enjoys using avocados as grenades more than reading, but as he uncovers the truth about what happened 10 years ago from those who were there, he discovers he is "surrounded by stories" both tragic and inspiring. Readers may not quite understand the intensity of Derek's obsession, which takes him from his home in California to Martha's Vineyard, where the accident took place, but his story moves quickly, thanks in part to stick figures drawn in the book's margins by Derek to define "vocabulary words." Some of these illustrations, drawn by Tashjian's 14-year-old son, Jake, are quite clever ("injustice" shows two irate students reading a sign saying "School on Saturday"). Derek's concluding speech may strain credibility, but a relatable and fun format make this a smart choice for "reluctant" readers—like Derek. Ages 9–12. (July)
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