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, July 1, 2013


copyright date: May 2013
primarily marketed for: young adults (middle/high school)

What a treat to find an unexpected sequel to a book I love!  Formerly Shark Girl by Kelly Bingham is the sequel to Shark Girl.  Both books are written in poetry form, which means each chapter(poem) uses sparse language to pack an emotional punch.

Formerly Shark Girl tells what life is like for Jane now that over a year has passed since she lost most of her right arm in a shark attack.  Although she has already faced the initial struggle to heal and face life without the talent of her drawing hand, Jane’s struggles are not over.  She has to decide where to go to college, has to choose whether to study art or nursing, and has to make up for precious time in the dating scene that was lost while she focused on her physical recovery.

The same thing that struck me when I first read Shark Girl struck me while reading this book—how real the characters seem and how true to life the relationships between them are drawn.  The way Jane interacts with her mother, brother, best friend, classmates, mentors, and sidekick is so natural and believable that I forgot I was reading a book about a fictional girl whose arm was eaten by a shark.  In fact, I often forgot about her arm altogether.  Although it is a major factor in Jane’s life, it does not end up being what defines her. 

This is a story that is innocent enough for younger advanced readers, even 5th grade, and yet there is enough food for thought to make it a worthwhile read for high school readers as well.  Here is an excerpt to illustrate what I mean and make you want to pick up Shark Girl and Formerly Shark Girl by Kelly Bingham if you haven’t already read these gems.

from “Triage, Class Two” in Formerly Shark Girl  by Kelly Bingham

…I wonder,
what would it be like if we all wore tags
declaring the state of our injuries?
Because we all have them—call them
what you will.  We all walk around
with thorns on our shoulders,
in our heads, our hearts, our past,
our present.
Significant. Minor. Immediate.


  1. Hi Christy! I just read Shark Girl about a month ago. I enjoyed it immensely so am happy to see there is a sequel. How great for students to have a second look at this young woman. Lots of fantasy series, but not so many in realistic fiction. I enjoyed the verse novel aspect too.

  2. Hello Christy,

    I'm so glad you enjoyed both books and that you feel a connection to Jane! Thank you so much for the lovely review.

    Kelly Bingham