Honestly Ben by Bill Konigsberg

Honestly Ben by Bill Konigsberg

Honestly Ben by Bill Konigsberg (9780545858267, Amazon)

A follow-up novel to Openly Straight, this second book focuses on Ben. Ben comes from a conservative New Hampshire farming family and is at a prestigious all-boys boarding school on scholarship. His life is filled with pressures of hard work and high achievement. He is told he will be the recipient of the school’s annual college scholarship and that just heaps on more expectations as does his election to be the captain of the school’s baseball team. As school pressures build, Ben is also wrestling with his sexuality. He has met a girl who makes him laugh and is distractingly beautiful, but he can’t get his best friend Rafe out of his mind. Ben is pushed to his limits in this novel that shows the importance of being honest with ourselves most of all.

Konigsberg delights in this second novel about Rafe and Ben. The use of a different perspective is refreshing and smart. The novel takes place after the first in the series, continuing the story and moving it forward. Throughout the book, other aspects of sexuality and gender are explored. Two of Rafe and Ben’s closest friends are asexual and gender fluid. They too are discovering their own identities alongside Ben, making for a rich experience for the reader.

Ben himself is a robust character with so much going on. He’s a history geek, loves to read and enjoys learning. Still, he is struggling in calculus, working late into the night just to stay afloat. Questions about teen drinking and cheating are also woven into the story, alongside the importance of being true to yourself in a myriad of ways, even if that means standing up to those around you. This is one of the best teen books with a bisexual character that I have read, even if Ben himself would not use that label.

A powerful and wildly funny look at sexuality, this novel makes me hope that future books in the series will be told from the perspectives of the other friends in the group. Appropriate for ages 14-18.

Reviewed from ARC received from Arthur A. Levine Books.

2017 Children’s Book Council of Australia Book of the Year Awards

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The shortlists for the 2017 Children’s Book Council of Australia Book of the Year Awards have been announced. They include two self-published books. Here are the books in the shortlist for the various awards:

BOOK OF THE YEAR: OLDER READERS 

The Bone Sparrow by Zana Fraillon

Frankie by Shivaun Plozza

One Would Think the Deep by Claire Zorn

Waer by Meg Caddy

Words in Deep Blue by Cath Crowley

Yellow by Megan Jacobson

 

 

BOOK OF THE YEAR: YOUNGER READERS

Captain Jimmy Cook Discovers Third Grade by Kate and Jol Temple, illustrated by John Foye

Dragonfly Song by Wendy Orr

A Most Magical Girl by Karen Foxlee

Mrs. Whitlam by Bruce Pascoe

Rockhopping by Trace Balla

Within These Walls by Robyn Bavati

 

 

 

BOOK OF THE YEAR: EARLY CHILDHOOD

All I Want For Christmas is Rain by Cori Brooke, illustrated by Megan Forward

Chip by Kylie Howarth

Gary by Leila  Rudge

Go Home, Cheeky Animals! by Johanna Ball, illustrated by Dion Beasley

Nannie Loves by Kylie Dunstan

 

The Snow Wombat by Susannah Chambers, illustrated by Mark Jackson

 

PICTURE BOOK OF THE YEAR

Home in the Rain by Bob Graham

Mechanica by Lance Balchin

My Brother by Dee, Oliver and Tiffany Huxley

One Photo by Liz Anelli/Ross Watkins

 

Out by Owen Swan and Angela May George

The Patchwork Bike by Van T Rudd and Maxine Beneba Clarke

 

 

EVE POWNALL AWARD FOR INFORMATION BOOKS

A – Z of Endangered Animals by Jennifer Cossins

Amazing Animals of Australia’s National Parks by Gina M Newton

Fabish, The Horse that Braved a Bushfire by Neridah McMullin, illustrator Andrew McLean

The Gigantic Book of Genes by Lorna Hendry

Spellbound: Making Pictures with the A-B-C by Maree Coote

William Bligh: a stormy story of tempestuous times by Michael Sedundary, illustrated by Bern Emmerichs

 

THE CRICHTON AWARD FOR NEW ILLUSTRATORS 2017

Mechanica – A beginner’s field guide by Lance Balchin

“Melbourne” Word by Word by Michael McMahon

A Patch from Scratch by Megan Forward

The Patchwork Bike by Maxine Beneba Clarke, illustrator Van T Rudd

Small Things by Mel Tregonning

Welcome to Country by Aunty Joy Murphy, illustrator Lisa Kennedy