Lush by Natasha Friend.

Sam is a teenage girl living in an alcoholic household.  She can’t have friends over for sleep overs, has to hide her father’s drinking from the neighbors, and finds herself getting angrier and angrier.  To relieve some of the pressure, she picks a nice looking older teen to send a note to about her situation.  But the note doesn’t get read by the person she wants it to.  Instead she finds herself not getting sympathy, but getting tough love.  Sam keeps on writing, intrigued by the person writing her back.  As her father’s drinking becomes worse, Sam finds that she can no longer help him by hiding it. 

Friend, author of Perfect, has done it again.  She has created a well-written, accessible book about a real teen girl who has to make heart-rending decisions that not only affect her but her entire family.  The book is a quick read that is sure to be popular with teen girls looking for problem novels.  But they will discover that some problem novels, like this one, are the best of the bunch.

Ella Sets the Stage

Ella Sets the Stage by Carmela and Steven D’Amico.

If you haven’t read any of the Ella books yet, you are missing a treat.  The books have an old-fashioned feel of Babar and Curious George that is warm and welcoming.  Ella is an enchanting elephant who is quite shy.  So for her, it is hard to figure out what to do at the upcoming talent show at her school.  She tries and tries to figure out what her talent actually is, but even on the night of the show, she doesn’t know what she is going to do.  Luckily, her natural talent of helping others comes to the rescue. 

These picture books are slightly longer than most, but don’t let that turn you away.  The text flows well and tells a direct story with touches of humor throughout.  It is the perfect length for use with Kindergarteners.  Make sure you go back and share the whole series!