In her book Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life, Anne Lamott says, “For some of us, books are as important as almost anything else on earth. What a miracle it is that out of these small, flat, rigid squares of paper unfolds world after world after world, worlds that sing to you, comfort and quiet or excite you. Books help us understand who we are and how we are to behave. They show us what community and friendship mean; they show us how to live and die.”

My hope is that this is what books become to you—as important as almost anything else on earth. This blog is about helping you find the miracle in these small, flat, rigid squares of paper while you are in middle school and beyond. Once you read alongside me, you are forever a member of my tribe of readers. No matter how you old you are, when you need to be reminded of the power of a good story, you will find me here, waiting to place one in your hands.

Monday, January 30, 2012


I read and fell in love with The Christmas Box by Richard Paul Evans in 1995.  I immediately recognized his name when I came across this, his first young adult title.   Although the story seemed like a far cry from the touching message of love and hope in the first book I had read by Evans, I was confident the quality of writing would be of the same high standard.  And it is.

Michael Vey has a special power that nobody else knows about.  Well, nobody except his mother and his best friend.  He can deliver high voltage shocks of electricity without the help of a taser.  When he finally gets tired of being bullied at school and uses his power to stop the bullies from going too far, his secret is compromised. 

At first, he seems to benefit from the newfound attention.  He is happy with his new friends, especially the cheerleader who witnessed the electric incident.  However, his happiness short circuits when the people who are responsible for Michael’s power in the first place track him down. 

The chase and torture that is foreshadowed in the book’s prologue is even more exciting than promised.  From the beginning of the book (even from the title), we are told that Michael is going to end up in Cell 25, the worst place imaginable.  It takes almost 300 pages to see that happen, but when it does, it still feels like a surprise.

Many books that cover this sort of action and contain such intricate plots against the bad guys become too complicated to follow.  However, Evans does a great job of creating characters that are easy to care about, and therefore easy to visualize in a variety of situations.  Plus, the science involved is well explained in simplistic enough, yet believable, terms. 

This book reminds me of the Maximum Ride series by James Patterson—only better.  And the best part is that Michael Vey: The Prisoner of Cell25 is only the beginning of Michael’s story.  This is the first book in what is sure to be a series of great books!


  1. Bet I know quite a few students who will love this! Thanks for the review. It's quite a switch from The Christmas Box, isn't it?

  2. I just finished getting the other books on my list and now I will have to start a new one! I love that you keep reading and writing about the books for your former students--and my current ones. I keep sending kids here to check out what you say! I'm reading "Shine" right now...have you read it? I don't remember...