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Karen's Young Adult Book Reviews
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Seeing the Blue Between/Keesha's House /Bronx Masquerade

Seeing the Blue Between


Seeing the Blue Between includes 32 letters from poets and their advice on writing for teens. They offer their support and some of their own poetry is included. Well-known poets such as Jack Prelutsky, Liz Rosenberg, Jane Yolen, and Michael Dugan are included in the selection. The title of the book comes from Kristine O'Connell George's poem "The Blue Between." She comments, "Everyone watches clouds, / naming creatures they've seen, / I see sky differently, / I see the blue between."


Janeczko has put together an exceptional book of authors, their letters, and poetry for encouragement and writing of poetry for young adults. He includes some of the best known poets and their work. Many different types of subjects and moods can be found inside the book. Humor is even included. Many of the authors include the same advice: read and keep writing and revise until the poem says what you want.


One reviewer comments, “while there is much discussion of the importance of revision, actual examples of first draft to final version are not given. A valuable addition to public and school libraries, with the potential for much classroom and personal use” (

Another reviewer comments, “The poems, and the advice, are as varied as the poets. Poems are humorous, witty, poignant, and/or thought provoking. While each letter represents one poet's views, the same advice crops up repeatedly: the importance of reading, the importance of writing, the importance of revising (again and again), and the importance of paying attention to what is around you” (

No reviews from teens were found on this book, however one adult reviewer comments that this is “what makes this a must-have resource, for say ten-years and up, are the essays by these same well-known writers, whose combined writing experience is nearly 1,000 years” (


Janeczko, Paul B. 2002. Seeing the Blue Between. Massachusetts: Candlewick Press.


Sources Book Reviews. Accessed 13 July, 2005.


Children’s Book Reviews. Accessed 13 July, 2005.

Richie's Picks: Great Books for Children and Young Adults.  Accessed 12 July, 2005.


Keesha’s House


Keesha has run away from home. She finds Joe, someone who allows her stay in his house. His aunt took him in when he needed a place to stay and left him the house when she died. He decided to use it to help others. Keesha tells others about the place and that there is a place for them if they ever need it. Dontay stays there after he leaves his foster home for not following their rules. Stephie stays there when she leaves home because she can’t tell her parents she is pregnant. The book includes others characters and reveals their feelings and what difficulties that they face. Jason, Stephie’s boyfriend, talks about how he cares for her, but wants to play basketball in college. Carmen, is arrested for DUI, after taking Dontay home and waits in jail for her hearing. Harris, who is disowned by his father after he disclosed that he is gay, and Katie who leaves home because her stepfather is abusive.


The book by Helen Frost is written in verse form. It is an interesting book that reveals life through the eyes of troubled teens. The stories the characters tell make the reader have deep sympathy for them because it seems so real. The book is a Michael Printz  honor award book and is very deserving of the title.


A book reviewer stated, “It sounds like a soap opera, but the poems that recount these stories unfold realistically. Revealing heartbreak and hope, these poems could stand alone, but work best as a story collection. Teens may read this engaging novel without even realizing they are reading poetry (


Another book reviewer comments, “All poems in the book are written in sestinas and sonnets, and each contains multicultural references that will connect the readers to the characters and their environment. The situations are real and prevalent in society, and even though they're sometimes uncomfortable to talk about and read about, young readers from ages 15 on up will appreciate each character's candid, poetic narration (


One teen reader commented, “It's really good. It shows what teens really go through” (,%20Helen.%20Keesha%27s%20House).


Another teen reader states, “Kesha's House was a really great read. I loved some of the characters. In the back, there is a section about how to write in a lot of different sonnet forms. Overall, great quick read”




Frost, Helen. 2003. Keesha’s House. New York: Frances Foster Books.


Sources Book Reviews.  Accessed 6 August, 2005.


Genrefluent Books of the Week (,%20Helen.%20Keesha%27s%20House). Accessed 6 August, 2005.

Bronx Masquerade


Mr. Ward’s English class begins writing poetry while studying Langston Hughes. Wesley Boone reads his poem to the class and others begin to volunteer. Open Mike Fridays allow students to read their work to each other. Mr. Ward uses a video camera to record their work. The students who wish to read their poetry put feeling into each new piece that they write. Students not only begin to understand himself or herself, but everyone who shares their poems. They all begin to understand one another no matter what ethnic background they come from. Others in the school want to be part of this class. An author is invited to their class, reads his work, and listens to theirs. This inspires the students further. The class has an open assembly at the end of school and reads their work. The entire school pays attention and becomes inspired by what the students have accomplished.


Nikki Grimes has written a novel that captures the essence of high school teenagers. Readers can relate to most of the characters in the novel. The backgrounds of each of the characters seem to make them bond through their poetry. They have never really looked at one another until they heard each classmate bear their soul. This is a well-written book that could serve as a model to any English class. This is definitely a book that teens would enjoy reading, especially when they see all the characters have one problem or another.


One book reviewer wrote, “Through short narratives by each teen, followed by their poetry that they are reading to their classmates, you are drawn into their world of isolation and wanting to belong. Their sense of self-awareness, along with their knowledge of their peers, grows throughout the book. Grimes' poetic talent flows with diversity and empathy and lets teens know they are not alone. A great book for Readers' Theatre!” (

Another reviewer states, “By book's end, all the voices have blended seamlessly into a multicultural chorus laden with a message that is probably summed up best by pretty girl Tanisha Scott's comment, "I am not a skin color or a hank of wavy hair. I am a person, and if they don't get that, it's their problem, not mine." But no teen reader will have a problem with this lyrical mix of many-hued views” (

A teen reader comments, “thought the Bronx masquerade was a great book. It seemed to be a play for 18, but with no one meeting. It was like the author was actually there. This is also the real thing. The things that go on in school that only the kids know about is what Nikki Grimes wrote about. All the students change throughout this "year". New friendships blossom as the kids realize how much they are alike, disregarding race and looks” (

Grimes, Nikki. 2002. Bronx Masquerade. New York: Dial Books.

Sources Book Reviews.  Accessed 30 July, 2005.

Bronx Masquerade by Nikki Grimes. 2005. Woman’s Day Magazine. Accessed 30 July, 2005.


Created by K. Braswell for LS5623 at Texas Woman's University.