Recently, Larrabee and I saw Wicked in San Jose. In preparation, of course, we had to re-watch The Wizard of Oz, which he didn’t remember at all. I told him that now that he’d seen it, he’d probably come across references to it all over the place.
And he did. The next day, he started reading The First Rule of Punk by Celia C. Pérez. In the first chapter, twelve-year-old Malú makes a zine called “There Is No Place Like Home.”
The First Rule of Punk is a charming coming-of-age story about a 12-year-old half Mexican girl who likes punk rock and zines. She doesn’t want to move with her professor mom from Florida to Chicago. And she definitely doesn’t want to dress like una señorita.
But somehow, over the course of the first couple of months of middle school, Malú finds her own “Yellow-Brick-Road posse” and figures out how to be true to all the parts of herself.
In addition to Wizard of Oz references, the book is full of Malú’s creative zines (and includes instructions for making your own), and it’s a lot of fun.
Arlo Finch in the Valley of Fire by John August is a fantasy adventure with plenty of action and lots of mystery.
Twelve-year-old Arlo Finch has just moved with his mom and older sister to live with his uncle in a tiny Colorado town. In an effort to fit in, he joins a scouting organization called the Rangers. He expects that he’ll learn to tie knots and navigate using a compass–and he does. But the Rangers also practice unusual skills that involve harnessing the magical energy of the nearby Long Woods.
Soon, Arlo receives a mysterious warning that he’s in danger. He’ll need all his new skills and the help of his new friends from Blue Patrol to stay one step ahead of the supernatural forces that are after him.
Arlo Finch in the Valley of Fire is the first in a planned trilogy. Larrabee and I both enjoyed it. We just borrowed the second one, Arlo Finch in the Lake of the Moon, from the library.
And if you’re curious about how the book came to be, John August has recorded an interesting podcast (Launch) about the whole process from writing to printing.