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Practically Paradise
Inside Practically Paradise

The Rainbow List is out!

Why am I so excited about the 2008-2009 Rainbow List? Because I truly loved Down to the Bone and I wanted to see it honored much more this past year. Note it is included here! In case you haven’t heard,  the Rainbow List is a bibliography of recommended books dealing with GLBTQI topics for youths birth through 18 years. The Rainbow project is the result of a joint committee between SRRT and GLBT-RT.  More information can be found on their blog:, their myspace page ( and on their facebook page (search:  rainbow list).

Some of you may not read this entire post because you are <gasp> self-censors <double gasp>! See, I did read the article by Debra Lau Whelan in the Feb. 09 SLJ. Today while I was racing around the school doing the dreaded district technology inventory, a student came upon me sprawled around a huge tv trying to write down model numbers. She whispered to my back, "Thanks for leaving that book out on your desk for me to read." 

It took me forever to realize she was referring to the stack of review books I had just unpacked. Since I was curious, I went back up to check against the list before leaving and realized she was referring to a new GLBTQI title. Many of the students like to review the titles with me and she had helped herself. 

You never know what needs you aren’t meeting when you self-censor. This week another student showed me she was reading Boy Meets Boy and how happy she was that we had purchased Nick & Norah’s Infinite Playlist (on our state awards YA list). I had agonized over the "potential flack" I could take from including the N&N title but decided it was on the award list for a reason so I should put it out there for students to choose. Take a look at the list:

Picture Books

Brannen, Sarah. Uncle Bobby’s Wedding. 2008. 32p. Putnam, $15.99. (978-0-399-24712-5). PreS-Gr. 2. Chloe’s concerns about her uncle’s upcoming wedding have nothing to do with the fact that his partner is male; instead, like a typical preschooler, she worries that she will lose her favorite uncle’s attention.

Ewert, Marcus.  10,000 Dresses.  Illus. by Rex Ray.  2008.  32p.  Seven Stories Press, $14.95.  (978-1583228500).  PreS-Gr. 2. Bailey dreams of wearing beautiful dresses, but her family disapproves of her understanding of her true self.

Middle/Early Young Adult 

Bauer, A.C.E.  No Castles Here.  October 2007.  270p.  Random House, , $15.99(Trade); $18.99 (Lib. Binding) (978-0-375-83921-4; 978-0-375-93921-1).  Gr. 5-7. A book of fairy tales, participation in a school chorus, and a gay Big Brother combine to give 11-year-old Augie the confidence he needs to become an activist.

Woodson, Jacqueline. After Tupac & D Foster. 2008. 153p. Putnam, $15.99. (978-0-399- 24654-8). Gr. 5-8. Eleven-year-old D Foster completes a trio of friends who share a passion for the music of Tupac Shakur as they deal with discrimination directed toward the gay brother of one of the trio.

Young Adult Fiction

Bach, Tamara.  Girl from Mars.  Trans. by Shelley Tanaka.  2008.  180p.  Groundwood Books, $12.95. (978-0-88899-725-8). Gr. 7-10. At fifteen, Miriam’s life in a small German town lacks excitement and meaning until she meets Laura and begins to discover how full her life already is.

Brothers, Meagan. Debbie Harry Sings in French. 2008. 240p. Henry Holt, $16.95. (9780805080803/1-8050-8080-5). Gr. 8-12. Johnny is pretty sure he isn’t gay, but he’s not quite sure what it means that he wants to be Debbie Harry–to dress like her, have hair like hers, and to hang out with drag queens.

Cohn, Rachel, and David Levithan. Naomi and Ely’s No Kiss List. August 2007. 230p. Knopf, $16.99 (Trade); $19.99 (Lib. Binding); $8.99(pbk.). (978-0-375-84440-9; 9780375944406; 9780375844416). Gr. 9-12. Witty, urbane Naomi, age 19, finally comes to terms with being hopelessly in love with her gay best friend, Ely, even after she learns he is sleeping with her boyfriend.

Dole, Mayra Lazara. Down to the Bone. 2008. 367p. HarperTeen. $16.99 (Trade); $17.89 (Lib. Binding). (978-0-06-084310-6; 978-0-06-084311-3). Gr. 8-12. After sixteen-year-old Laura is outed at school, kicked out of her home, and rejected by her girlfriend, she finds herself and her community in this hilarious debut novel with an all-Latino cast.

Dunnion, Kristyn. Big Big Sky. 2008. 244p. Red Deer Press, $14.95. (978-0-88995-404-5). Gr. 10-12. When a pod of five young well-trained female warrior assassins starts falling apart, each must show her strength in the outside real world to avoid being captured and unplugged. 

Ford, Michael Thomas. Suicide Notes. 2008. 295p. HarperTeen, $16.99 (Trade); $17.89 (Lib. Binding). (978-0-06-073755-9; 978-0-06-073756-6).   (978-0-06-073755-9). Gr. 9-11. After he wakes up in a psychiatric hospital, 15-year-old Jeff describes the events that led up to his attempted suicide and how his life is changed during his 45-day stay. 

Geerling, Marjetta. Fancy White Trash. 2008. 257p. Viking, $16.99. (978-0-670-01082-0). Gr. 9-11. Fifteen-year-old Abby struggles with her highly dysfunctional family while her best friend Cody deals with the challenges of coming out to himself and his friends. 

Goldman, Steven. Two Parties, One Tux, and a Very Short Film about the Grapes of Wrath.  2008. 272p. Bloomsbury, $16.99. (978-1-59990-271-5). Gr. 8-10. Eleventh-grader Mitchell’s life suddenly changes when his best friend David comes out of the closet.

Grant, Stephanie. Map of Ireland. 2008. 197p. Scribner, $22.00. (978-1-4165-5622-0/ 1-4165-5622-2). Gr. 10-12. Ann’s junior year is complicated by the forced busing of Black children to her formerly all-white high school, forcing Ann to deal with her racist environment while coping with being a lesbian in an inter-racial relationship.

Hardy, Mark. Nothing Pink. 2008. 109p. Front Street/Boyds Mills Press, $16.95. (978-1-932425-24-6). Gr. 8-10. Tormented with thoughts about his own homosexuality, Vincent, son of a Pentacostal preacher, fights his impulses until he meets Robert, a church friend, who is much more accepting.

Harmon, Michael. Last Exit to Normal. 2008. 275p. Knopf, $15.99. (978-37584-982). Gr. 9-11. Ben and his two dads move to rural Montana where Ben absolutely does not fit in and finds it harder to deal with having two dads than he did in their previous urban home. 

Hegamin, Tonya Cherie. M+O 4EVR.  2008. 165p. Houghton Mifflin, $16.00. (978-0-618-49570-2). Gr. 7-10. After the death of Marianne, Opal’s best friend—and more–Opal deals with her loss through the life of Hannah, a runaway slave who died in 1842. 

Juby, Susan. Another Kind of Cowboy. December 2007. 344p. HarperTeen, $16.99 (Trade); $17.89 (Lib. Binding). (978-0-06-076517-0; 9780060765187). Gr. 8-10. Sixteen, gay, and closeted, Alex has dreamed of riding dressage since childhood, although his father wants him to be a "real" cowboy. 

Kluger, Steve. My Most Excellent Year: A Novel of Love, Mary Poppins, & Fenway Park. 2008.  403p.  Dial, $16.99.  (978-0803732278). Gr. 8-10. Three high school friends, including a fun, proud, and just about out-of-the-closet gay young man, tell about their ‘excellent’ ninth-grade year.

Konigsberg, Bill. Out of the Pocket.  2008. 264p. Dutton, $16.99.  (9780525479963). Gr. 9-11. Bobby’s skills as a top high-school quarterback also serve him well off the field when he is outed in the school newspaper and deals with the consequences in an honest and realistic way.

Levithan, David. How They Met, and Other Stories. 2008. 256p. Knopf, $16.99 (Trade); $19.99 (Lib. Binding).  (978-0375848865; 9780375948862). Gr. 9-11. Find the answer to "what is love" in this diverse collection of short stories.

Lieberman, Leanne.  Gravity.  2008.  245p.  Orca, $12.95.  (978-1-550469-049-7).  Gr. 9-11. Brought up as a strict Orthodox Jew to believe that homosexuality is an abomination, 15-year-old Ellie struggles with her sexual feelings for another girl.

McMahon, Jennifer. My Tiki Girl. 2008. 246p. Dutton, $16.99. (978-0-525-47943-7). Gr. 9-11. After once-popular Maggie, 15, is left with an injured leg after a car accident that kills her mother, she finds solace with Dahlia, the new girl at school, and her unconventional family, including a mentally-ill mother.

Penny, Patricia G. Belinda’s Obsession. [Not Just Proms & Parties Series] September 2007. 134p. Lobster Press, $7.95. (978-0-897073-62-9). Gr. 7-10. After she discovers that her mother is having an affair, Belinda’s obsession with saving her parents’ marriage damages her growing relationship with her last summer’s fling, Candace.

Rosen, Selina. Sword Masters. 2008. 313p. Dragon Moon Press, $19.95. (978-1-896944-65-4). Gr. 9-12. Determined to avenge her father’s death, Tarius pretends to be male and non-Katabull to study with the Sword Masters but finds more than she bargained for when she falls in love with the headmaster’s daughter, Jena, who thinks that Tarius is a man.

Rud, Jeff.  Crossover.  2008.  170p. Orca, $9.95. (978-1-55143-981-5). Gr. 7-10. Sixteen-year-old Kyle gets caught in the middle between his basketball team and drama club when he opts to join both and re-establishes an old friendship with Luke, who is the frequent target of gay-baiting.  

Ruditis, Paul. Entrances and Exits. [Drama series]. 2008. 242p. Simon Pulse, $8.99. (978-1-4169-5906-9). Gr. 7-10. A first time director and high school junior, Bryan has to learn to cope with a temperamental playwright, the leading actress’s jealous boyfriend, competition from a new girl on the drama scene, and his yearnings for Drew, his ex-best friend who kissed him and then ran. 

Tamaki, Mariko and Tamaki, Jillian.  Skim. 2008.  140p.  Groundwood Books, $15.00.  (0888997531/9780888997531). Gr. 9-12. Would-be Wiccan and goth Skim, aka Kimberly Keiko Cameron, is revealed in this graphic novel as a sometimes target for the popular students at her all-girls private school in Toronto, where she falls in love with her English teacher Ms. Archer.

Wilson, Martin.  What They Always Tell Us.  2008.  293p. Delacorte, $15.99. (9780385735070). Gr. 9-11. Isolated and unsure of his place in his family and at school after an attempted suicide Alex is encouraged to try out for cross-country by his brother’s friend, Nathen, and discovers more than just a supportive teammate.

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–>Wittlinger, Ellen. Love & Lies: Marisol’s Story. 2008. 256p. Simon & Schuster, $16.00. (1416916237) (978-1416916239). Gr. 9-11. When Marisol takes a year off between high school and college to write a novel, she falls in love with her creative writing teacher, Olivia.


Alsenas, Linas. Gay America: Struggle for Equality. 2008. 160p. Amulet/Abrams, $24.95. (978-0-8109-9487-4). Gr. 7-12. The fascinating story of gay people throughout America’s history is told with clear text and lots of photography.

Leleux, Robert. The Memoirs of a Beautiful Boy. 2008. 272p. St. Martin’s Press, $23.95. (978-0-312-36168-6). Gr. 10-12. Hilarious stories of a comically dysfunctional family describe growing up gay in Texas.

Passet, Joanne.  Sex Variant Woman:  The Life of Jeannette Howard Foster. 2008. 448 p.  Da Capo Press, $27.50. (0786718226/ 9780786718221). Gr. 10-12. Foster’s roller-coaster life and studies defined lesbian history in the twentieth century. 

Schofield, Scott Turner. Two Truths and a Lie: A Memoir. 2008. 127p. Homofactus Press, $15.00. (978-0-9785973-2-0). Gr. 11-12. The fluidity of gender shines in these three performance scripts by a transgender man from the Deep South who describes growing up in a world of debutante balls and homecoming proms.

Schrag, Ariel.  Awkward and Definition.  2008.  Touchstone (Simon & Schuster), $15.00.  (978-1-4165-5231-4).  Gr. 10-12. Pen and ink comic drawings about Schrag’s early high school years illuminate her funny and touching journey toward a sexual identify amidst concerns about school, sex, drugs, and rock and roll. 


  1. Susan Wolinsky says:

    I loved DOWN TO THE BONE, by Mayra Dole! It was a funny, moving novel that will please everyone- gays or straights. I was sad to say good-bye to Laura and her friends at the end of the book, and I sincerely hope that Mayra will be encouraged to write a sequel.

  2. I loved Mayra Doles’ Down To The Bone! I’m older than all the characters in the book and could’t relate to the current slang, but I could SURE relate to the issue of trying to force myself into a hollow, “pretend love ” just to fit in- Never again! I AM WHO I AM! I guess I got too wrapped up in the sad and poigniant messages gay teens hear too often! This book re-opened some old wounds, but with a teenagers resilience and joie de vivre remained a joyous account of self discovery.

  3. GarykPatton says:

    Hello, can you please post some more information on this topic? I would like to read more.