Music and more: After Tupac and D Foster

Woodson, Jacqueline. After Tupac and D Foster. Puffin Books, 2008. 153 pages. Hardcover $13.64, ISBN 978-0-399-24654-8; Tr. $5.19, ISBN 978-0-14-241399-9; PLB $13.01, ISBN 978-0-329-77678-7


TL;DR: Do I recommend this? Yes


Genre: Historical Fiction


Part of a series? No.


Plot Summary:

This middle grade novel explores friendship, family, and what it means to be “lucky” in the mid 1990s. Our unnamed narrator and her friends Neeka and D navigate life on the block (or, as only D is allowed to do, “roaming”) as well as topics such as having a (gay) brother in prison, dealing with when your favorite rapper (or any person on the street) says homophobic things, and what it means to really know someone.


Critical Evaluation/Reader’s Comments:

This novel is a great read for many reasons. Not only does Woodson incorporate elements such as LGBTQIA characters, incarcerated family members, missing parents, and foster care, but she does so in a way that does not unnaturally highlight any of those plot elements. They are realistic elements of our narrator’s life, not “after school special” type inclusions.


Curriculum Ties/Library Use:

This book would be a great choice for any music fans. Readers could think about a musician who really speaks to their own feelings, and they can share some of that musician’s work with the class, describing why that musician’s work is so important to them. (Idea from myself)


Grade Level: 5-8


Awards and Starred Reviews:

Library Media Connection starred 10/1/08

Newbery Honor 2009

Publishers Weekly starred 12/17/07

School Library Journal starred 4/1/08

Voice of Youth Advocates (VOYA) starred 2/1/08


Reviews referenced:

Berman, M. (n. d.). After Tupac and D Foster (Review of the book After Tupac and D Foster). Common Sense Media. Retrieved from

Bird, E. (2008, Feb. 19). Review of the day: After Tupac and D Foster (Review of the book After Tupac and D Foster). School Library Journal. Retrieved from

Kirkus Reviews. (2007, Dec. 1). After Tupac and D Foster (Review of the book After Tupac and D Foster). Kirkus Reviews. Retrieved from

Publishers Weekly. (2007, Dec. 10). After Tupac and D Foster (Review of the book After Tupac and D Foster). Publishers Weekly. Retrieved from


Tags: Rap, Tupac Shakur, historical fiction, 1990s, lgbtqia, incarcerated people, HIV/AIDS, friendship


George by Alex Gino

Gino, Alex. George. Scholastic Press, 2015. Hardcover $14.49, ISBN 978-0-545-81254-2; PLB $18.51, ISBN 978-1-51811-632-2


TL;DR: Do I recommend this? YES!!!


Genre: Realistic Contemporary Fiction/LGBTQIA Fiction


Part of a series? No.


Plot Summary:

George has a big secret — she’s a girl. She wishes that she could ask people to call her Melissa; she wants to wear makeup and dresses and perfume. How to tell her family? She doesn’t know what to do. She does know that she wants to be Charlotte in the class play of Charlotte’s Web. She confides this dream to her best friend Kelly, and Kelly encourages her to go for it. Auditions don’t go as planned, however, and when George’s mom finds and confiscates her secret stash of girls’ magazines, it looks like nothing will go George’s way. Will anyone ever accept George for who she is? Or will all of them — bullies like Jeff who beat her up, well-meaning adults like Ms. Udell who refer to her bright future as a wonderful young man, or her mother who refers to George’s interest in girls’ things as “not cute anymore” — crush her spirit and force her to live a life that isn’t right for her?


Critical Evaluation/Reader’s Comments:

George is a fantastic protagonist. Her voice is so clear that it is almost as though readers are reading the actual diary of a middle school girl. Gino’s writing shines, and their narration never sounds like an adult pretending to be a kid speaking. This book is a must-read for all middle graders (and teachers … and parents … and people in general)! The drama-nerd life is also clearly expressed, and as a drama enthusiast myself, I loved that plotline.


Curriculum Ties/Library Use:

I’d love to feature this as a book club book or reading circle choice. A potential activity would be for kids to design the set for a play if we were to stage George as a drama; this would allow for a discussion of what it takes to design a simple set, and we could talk about what the most important places were in the novel so that we can focus on those locations. (Idea from myself)


Grade Level: 3-6


Awards and Starred Reviews:

Booklist starred 8/1/15

Kirkus Reviews starred 6/1/15

Publishers Weekly starred 5/11/15

School Library Journal starred 7/1/15

Stonewall Book Award 2016


Reviews referenced:

Kirkus Reviews. (2015, May 6). George (Review of the book George). Kirkus Reviews. Retrieved from

Pavao, K. (n. d.). George (Review of the book George). Common Sense Media. Retrieved from