Sixteen-year-old and not-so-openly gay Simon Spier prefers to save his drama for the school musical. But when an email falls into the wrong hands, his secret is at risk of being thrust into the spotlight. Now change-averse Simon has to find a way to step out of his comfort zone before he’s pushed out—without alienating his friends, compromising himself, or fumbling a shot at happiness with the most confusing, adorable guy he’s never met.
A funny and poignant coming-of-age, coming out story.
(8th grade and up)
You know you’re in for some fun when an opinionated narrator with a strong sense of the ridiculous tells the story. A gleeful historical mystery farce. Angleberger’s penchant for the absurd and his many droll asides will delight readers.
Ben is thrilled to receive a penguin as a present, but not so thrilled that it doesn’t seem to talk. He tries everything to make Penguin speak—tickling, funny faces, silly songs and even standing on his head. When all of that fails to get a reaction, he resorts to more frustrated measures like prodding, imitating and ignoring, finally firing Penguin off to outer space strapped to a rocket, only to have him return, silent as ever. Things devolve from bad to worse until finally, a lion eats Ben “for being too noisy.” Penguin comes to the rescue, biting Lion hard on the nose. Ben sees the light literally and figuratively as he flies out of Lion’s mouth and finally realizes that even though Penguin can’t talk, he is able to express feeling for Ben in his own wonderful way. We see a dialogue bubble filled with images of all the times they’ve spent together and at last Ben knows that penguin loves him.
Quirky, funny and charming. Dunbar chooses her words and brush strokes carefully, which concentrates everything and packs more punch. Ben, Penguin and Lion reside over clean white backgrounds, focusing the eye on what matters most. An entertaining tale that in the end, is about understanding and appreciating one another.