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book review

Books We Love: Sam and Eva

#bookexcursion, #DiverseKidLit

Huge thanks to Debbie Ohi for sharing a copy of Sam and Eva with our #bookexcursion group! #bookexcursion is a team of nine educators who read and share new children’s and middle-grade titles. For more of my #bookexcursion reviews, click here!

They say you can’t judge a book by its cover, but Sam and Eva drew in my third graders before I flipped to the first page.

Sam and Eva captures a common friendship problem: when one person wants to join in the fun, but the other person would rather work (or play) alone. Sam draws creative creatures and crazy scenes, but Eva always feels she can top his latest creation. As the tension escalates, readers begin to wonder how the friends will ever find common ground. Sam and Eva surprise us just in time.

From the bright colors to the brilliant illustrations, the visual aspects of Sam and Eva make it the type of book children will pull off the shelf again and again. Author Debbie Ohi does such an amazing job capturing a common childhood moment and turning it into something magical and meaningful. I just know this book will be one my students ask me to read again and again!

Blog Tour: Pieces of Why



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Pieces of Why
by K.L. Going


My Rating:

I am so honored to be a part of the blog tour for KL Going’s Pieces of Why from Penguin Group! This book addresses extremely heavy topics that unfortunately affect the lives of children and youth around the world. From gun violence to family drama and more, these real life issues are addressed by KL Going in a way that makes them a little more understandable for youth.


From the award winning author of Fat Kid Rules the World andThe Liberation of Gabriel King comes a lyrical, middle grade gem that asks all the hard questions and hits all the right notes–perfect for fans of Cynthia Rylant and Mockingbird by Kathryn Erskine.

Tia lives with her mom in a high-risk neighborhood in New Orleans and loves singing gospel in the Rainbow Choir with Keisha, her boisterous and assertive best friend. Tia’s dream is to change the world with her voice; and by all accounts, she might be talented enough. But when a shooting happens in her neighborhood and she learns the truth about the crime that sent her father to prison years ago, Tia finds she can’t sing anymore. The loss prompts her to start asking the people in her community hard questions–questions everyone has always been too afraid to ask.

Full of humanity, Pieces of Why is a timely story that addresses grief, healing, and forgiveness, told through the eyes of a gifted girl who hears rhythm and song everywhere in her life.


I’m a firm believer that music can heal. It can help us grow and change and accept the things that happen in our lives. Tia, the main character of Pieces of Why, believes the same, until one day she loses her voice after finding out the truth about a crime her father committed. In a family with a father she never knew and a mother who has kept secrets from her, Tia gets stuck thinking her voice doesn’t matter. Luckily, she has people like her best friend Keisha and her choir director to prove her wrong.

Taking place in New Orleans and addressing topics like gun violence, poverty, and crime, this book is an important tool to demonstrate how some youth are living today, and how they can use positivity and work with others to change things in their communities. While this book deals with very sensitive topics and should be previewed by a parent or teacher before given to a middle grade reader, KL Going’s truthfulness in telling this story is desperately needed in this genre. Some children and youth live their lives like Tia’s, with parents in prison or violence occurring right around the block. Those children need books that, like Pieces of Why, accurately represent their experiences while giving them characters to relate to.

If you are interested in a heavy but uplifting read that helps bring humanity to even the worst situations, Pieces of Why may be a good fit for you.

 Favorite Passages

On positivity:
“You know, sometimes if you’re having trouble creating something beautiful, you’ve got to find the joy in your life. Focus on the good things.”

On bad days:
“Certain days ought to come with warning notices. WARNING: This day will be hazardous to your health. Instead, most days start out normal. Maybe even better than normal. Which is so much worse.”

On being a teenager:
I looked up into the branches of the magnolia tree high above us, trying to imagine God sitting among the stars listening to Keisha’s wish turned prayer and deciding whether or not we were worthy of making out with boys in the backseat of a bus.”

Win a Copy of the Book!

Throughout the blog tour for Pieces of Why, you can enter to win three fantastic sets of prizes! Just click on the Rafflecopter Giveaway link below to enter.



1st Prize: Win a signed galley of Pieces of Why, a Fat Kid movie, a signed Fat Kid original book cover, a signed poster of Saint Iggy and Read Great Books bumper sticker (US Only)

2nd Prize: Win a signed galley of Pieces of Why, a signed paperback of The Liberation of Gabriel King, a sign poster for The Garden of Eve and a Read Great Books bumper sticker (US Only)

3rd Prize: Win a signed galley of Pieces of Why, an audio edition of The Garden of Eve, a signed poster for The Garden of Eve and a Read Great Books bumper sticker (US Only)

About the Author


KL Going is the award winning author of books for children and teens. Her first novel, Fat Kid Rules the World was named a Michael Printz honor book by the American Library Association, as well as one of the Best Books for Young Adults from the past decade. Her books have been Booksense picks, Scholastic Book Club choices, Junior Library Guild selections, winners of state book awards, and featured by Publishers Weekly, School Library Journal, and Children’s Book Council as Best Books. Her work has been published in Korea, Italy, Japan and the UK.

KL began her career working at one of the oldest literary agencies in New York City. She used this inner knowledge of publishing to write Writing and Selling the Young Adult Novel — a how-to book for aspiring writers, published by Writer’s Digest. She has also written short stories for several anthologies and currently has two picture books under contract for future release. She currently lives in Glen Spey, NY where she both writes and runs a business critiquing manuscripts. To visit KL on-line go to

Book Information
Title: Pieces of Why
Author: K.L. Going
Publisher: Penguin Group
Release Date: 2015
Price: $16.99
Source: Advanced Review Copy

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Note: I received an Advanced Review Copy of Pieces of Why from Penguin Group. All opinions are my own.