When Friendship Followed Me Home by Paul Griffin




“You’d have to be nuts to trust a magician. I learned that lesson the hard way. And then, if you can believe it, I actually became a magician’s assistant. That part was the Rainbow Girl’s fault, but the rest of it I blame on a little dog named Flip.

Griffin, Paul. When Friendship Followed Me Home.  Dial, 2016. 247 pages. Hardcover. $16.99, ISBN 978-0-8037-3816-4

I loved this story – for a lot of reasons. First, it had a dog in it. I absolutely adore dogs and Flip is special. He can listen when kids read books to him – and he actually looks interested. Second, the story shows that when bad things happen, you can still survive, that there are always options. A good attitude goes a long way to help. Third, it made me laugh out loud. Ben Coffin is one funny guy and his friend Halley (like the comet) is equally entertaining. Ben and Halley are the kind of people who keep a positive attitude even when things aren’t looking so good. Another reason I love this book, one of the good guys in the story is a librarian who keeps homemade chocolate chip cookies on her desk and she’s pretty cool. I’m a librarian and I love cookies so I have lot in common with her. Plus, she’s Halley’s mom and I’m a mom so I can relate. Most likely, if you’re reading this, you’re a kid, and I think you just might relate to Ben and Halley and all that they are experiencing. This book will make you laugh and it will make you cry. I highly recommend it. If you want to know more, watch the book trailer below created by Heartland Media Center. They did a great job book talking this book. Enjoy!

Want to watch a book trailer for When Friendship Followed Me Home?

Link to Amazon.com (available in Hardcover, Paperback, Kindle versions, and Audible)

Link to Worldcat.org

 Paul Griffin





Ball Don’t Lie by Matt de la Peña

Courtesy of Amazon.com

“‘If I don’t make it to the NBA I’ll kill myself. I know it don’t sound so good when I say it, Annie, but that’s how I feel. There ain’t nothin else I wanna do. Just play ball.

De la Peña, Matt. Ball Don’t Lie.  Delacorte Press, 2005. 280 pages. Hardcover. $8.99, ISBN 978-0-385-902588

Matt de la Peña is one of my new favorite authors. I did a lesson for my high schoolers introducing Matt, book talking a few of his books, and practicing writing a story from a primary source picture just like he did with Last Stop on Market Street.

I became intrigued by Matt after reading “Sometimes The ‘Tough Teen’ Is Quietly Writing Stories”


From School Library Journal (Courtesy of Amazon.com)

“Starred Review. Grade 9 Up–That white boy can ball….He don’t play like no regular white boy. Sticky, 17, has spent his life being abused by pimps living with his prostitute mother, bouncing from one foster home to another, and living on the street between failed placements. But he’s developed incredible hoop skills that have given him considerable social standing among his mostly black peers. And he gets a girlfriend named Anh-thu, who loves him and wants to help him reach his dreams. Sticky sees basketball as his way out of his dead-end life and is determined to make the right moves in the game to attain his goal. But he doesn’t quite know how to make the right moves in his life, until a bad decision leads him to confront dark secrets. Jumping back and forth in time, this first novel has a unique narrative voice that mixes street lingo, basketball jargon, and trash talk to tell Sticky’s sorry saga from a variety of viewpoints. Although readers who are not familiar with basketball may have trouble following some of the detailed game action, even they will be involved in the teen’s at once depressing and inspiring story. Sticky is a true original, and de la Peña has skillfully brought him to life.–Jack Forman, Mesa College Library, San Diego”

Link to Amazon.com

Link to Worldcat.org

Available in:

Ball Don’t Lie was made into a movie. Unfortunately, it’s rated R.



Want to learn more about Matt de la Pena? Click Here for an interview with Matt de la Peña.



  • An ALA-YALSA Best Book for Young Adults
  • An ALA-YALSA Quick Pick
Courtesy of mattdelapena.com

  Courtesy of mattdelapena.com

Matt de la Peña’s
 Website ,
Twitter Account 



No Boyz Allowed by Ni-Ni Simone

Cover Photo Courtesy of Amazon.com

Gem and Malik move into their third foster home of the  year. Follow Gem as she tries to adjust to her new home and school, reconnect with an old friend, connect with new friends and a very sexy new boyfriend, and learn some things about herself along the way.

Simone, Ni-Ni. No Boyz Allowed. Kensington Publishing Corp., 2012. 244 pages. Paperback. $9.95, ISBN 978-0-7582-4193-1

Gem is sixteen, her brother Malik is eight, their mother is a crack head and they don’t know who their father is.

“The moment the soles of my crisp white Concords hit the concrete and my brother and I stood in front of our new foster home – our third one this year, our umpteenth this lifetime- I knew this was destined to be a hot mess.”

Gem has a bad attitude, to say the least. She’s fed up with the system and trusts no one but herself. Who could blame her with all that she and Malik have been through.

Gem used to love basketball and she was good at it. She had skillz.

“Never mind that playing ball was the only escape I had. The only worry-free zone in my life… I had to skip all that and fast forward to my reality-which had no room for three point plays.”

So what happens next? Gem reconnects with her best friend Pop from years ago, joins Pop’s No Boyz Allowed Club where no guy can come between their friendship and goes to a new school. Do you think she can lose the attitude and connect with her new family? What about basketball, will she play? And then there is her new oh soooo sexy boyfriend, Ny’eem. Will he be a problem for the No Boyz Allowed Club? Read and find out!

Link to Amazon.com.

Link to Worldcat.org.

Available in:


Kindle Edition

Library Binding


Want to read another review? Click here for a Kirkus Review.

Photo Courtesy of Amazon.com

Want to learn more about Ni-Ni Simone? Click here to check out her website.

Like to follow Ni-Ni Simone on Twitter? Click here.

Or you can also go to the Ni-Ni Simone Official Facebook page here.

Click here to read an interview with Ni-Ni Simone.

© Chris Peeler 2013