Readers may remember Emma Donoghue for her blockbuster novel Room, about a happy little boy growing up in horrifying conditions. Where Room was darkness pierced with light, Donoghue’s latest is pretty much all light. The Lotterys Plus One, for young readers, is about a big, boisterous, diverse family that starts with two sets of same sex couples deciding to have children. The family grows to include seven kids, and that “plus one” of the title turns out to be the addition that tips the family over the edge.

Donoghue says she got the idea for the book at a dinner party. “My hostess said to me, ‘How come there aren’t good books for middle grade that feature kids with two mothers?’ You know, ‘Write me one, Emma,’ she said. And then I thought, while I’m at it, let’s make it really big — you know, go big or go home.”

Emma Donoghue Helps Kids Deal With Dementia (And Still Has Fun) In 'The Lotterys’


would it mean that you were g a y, or a l e s b i a n, or whatever word you were supposed to call it, if you liked only one particular girl?

Mattie, a star student and passionate reader, is delighted when her English teacher announces the eighth grade will be staging Romeo and Juliet. And she is even more excited when, after a series of events, she finds herself playing Romeo, opposite Gemma Braithwaite’s Juliet. Gemma, the new girl at school, is brilliant, pretty, outgoing—and, if all that wasn’t enough: British.
As the cast prepares for opening night, Mattie finds herself growing increasingly attracted to Gemma and confused, since, just days before, she had found herself crushing on a boy named Elijah. Is it possible to have a crush on both boys AND girls? If that wasn’t enough to deal with, things backstage at the production are starting to rival any Shakespearean drama! In this sweet and funny look at the complicated nature of middle school romance, Mattie learns how to be the lead player in her own life.

This was an incredibly cute read. Sometimes I found myself eye-rolling at the… obnoxiousness of middle school drama but I’m sure I was that obnoxious in middle school, so I got over it.

I remember, when I was a… senior? Probably a senior, I couldn’t figure out why I was so weirdly obsessed with this girl and I spent most of the homecoming dance orchestrating ways to walk past her and honestly I sympathize with Mattie so much with this inner realization of ‘oh shit I’m not straight’, and my friend was the one who told me what I was feeling. Eventually, seven years later I realized I was asexual but that’s a different book.

“Just because I’m over Elijah doesn’t mean I can’t crush on a boy.”

*dances* explicit, positive bisexual representation in a middle grade book? This is a thing of beauty.

The ending wasn’t what I was expecting, not in the least, but now that I think about it, I think it’s definitely better that way.

10 out of 5 stars.

Rating: ★★★★★ (5/5 stars)

Top 10 books by transgender authors featuring trans characters

Cisgender authors can write great trans characters, but trans authors live the experiences of their characters every day and their voices need to be the loudest on trans issues, argues teen writer John Hansen. So here’s a list of the best trans YA and middle grade books by trans and non-binary authors

Book drive for school of robotics team champs!

Hey friends! Like me, many of you were horrified by this news report:


We want to show love for this school and their outstanding robotics team in the form of a book drive. This is a Title 1 school with a very diverse population. Authors, you can sign books to Pleasant Run. Anyone else who can donate is much appreciated! Picture books, early readers, chapter books, and middle grade books most welcome, especially those written by and featuring people of color. Also early readers in Spanish would be a bonus as they have dual immersion language program for some kindergarten classes. Mail books to:

Pleasant Run Elementary

1800 N Franklin Rd

Indianapolis, IN 46219

If you have books more appropriate for middle or high school, this diverse district would love those too! Mail to :

Metro School District of Warren Township
975 N. Post Road
Indianapolis, IN 46219
ATTN: Kathy Disney

Thank you! And congrats to the robotics team at Pleasant Run. You inspire us!

Star-Crossed book review

Rating: ★★★★☆ (4/5)

Short blurb: Mattie never wanted to be the star of the eighth grade play, or even the lead role in her own life. But everything changes when she’s forced to step into the role of Romeo opposite the girl playing Juliet: her crush, Gemma.

This book? Beautiful. Wonderful. Great. And, okay, a little young in terms of reading level. But we need more lgbtqa+ books for kids, and this middle grade Romeo and Juliet retelling with a bi protagonist is adorable!

It took a little while for me to readjust to the reading level, but the moment I got over the slightly rocky start I was hooked. Friendships that have realistic complications, addressing how parents can be hard to talk to but still giving the main character a guide in the form of her older sister, over dramatic middle school drama that charmingly parallels the plot of Romeo and Juliet while still having a happy ending, talking about how crushes and who you like changes and how that’s ok! And outright saying that you can like both girls and boys.

And, on a more personal note, this may have been aimed at younger readers but a lot of feelings about realizing you’re Maybe Not As Straight As Previously Planned still hit home for me.

I guess what I’m saying is, this book was right on target. (Except for one place I would say it missed the mark, which is how I feel like the story (perhaps accidentally; there were other factors playing out in the scene, so it’s not a big deal) sort of implied that not telling your friends you’ve realized you like girls immediately after realizing is a sign that you don’t trust them and aren’t being a good friend. It wasn’t a point that was hammered in, but it also wasn’t contested by the narrative after one character basically said exactly that. I would say, personally, that the book should have backed up Mattie’s decision to try and process her feelings before telling anyone; that’s always ok, even if you’re trying to learn not to over think things at the same time.)

Just reading this book, encouraging Mattie throughout her journey, and picking up on all the silly Romeo and Juliet parallels in the plot made me very happy. I highly recommend it to anyone who likes to pick up a middle grade book now and then (and of course to the kids middle grade is written for!).

okay, i have three theories as to why Calron isn’t canon yet.

  1.  Cassandra and Holly said that they were planning to kill off Aaron in the 3rd book from the start, they planned it. So what i’m saying is that they didn’t want to make calron a thing yet because when Aaron got killed they would receive hate from killing off the gay character, they didn’t want to be accused of ‘burying the gay’. Yet they drop calron hints, possibly foreshadowing the future books. So when Call resurrects Aaron (he will) that’s when calron will begin. 
  2.  my second theory is, Cassandra and Holly are seeing how people will react to homosexuality in middle-grade books. They are (as i said before) dropping hints of homosexuality like mentioning Celia’s two moms, seeing how people will react to that before introducing Calron as a main couple. 
  3. they want to make us suffer :)

(2. was my friend’s theory)

I wish booklr appreciated middle-grade novels more. I always see people complaining about generic dystopian plots, forced and boring romance, and lack of diversity in young adult and new adult novels.

Middle grade novels fix a lot of these problems! Sure, some middle-grade novels are very juvenile, but many middle-grade novels address very difficult and interesting issues in touching and poignant ways. The novels are inventive, have fleshed-out characters, and are often very emotionally moving.

So if you’re tired of the pitfalls of reading YA and NA, try middle-grade! You won’t be sorry!

One of my first otps from literature as a small child was Shasta and Aravis from The Horse and His Boy by C.S. Lewis. I LOVED Aravis. I loved that she was  such a strong and vocal girl in a country where girls were taught that they should be silent. I loved that Shasta and Aravis fought throughout the whole book, yet the times they spent apart they felt less grounded without the other to back them up.

  • me on a date: so, Tagatha or Agaphie?
  • them: i'm not really into any of those ships since -
  • me, shoving breadsticks into my purse: i have to leave now
  • them: i find the theme of the story to be much more fascinating to be honest, like the whole concept of what it means to be good or evil, girl or boy, and the fact that this series is set for kids who may have their own confusions about the lgbtq community as well as on the original fairy tales
  • me, fully enamoured whilst slowly replacing breadsticks: go on