The Dragon Whistler

The Dragon Whistler
Now available in paperback.


NOGGIN by John Corey Whaley

Sixteen-year-old Travis Coates had cancer. He was going to die. And then this super experimental medical treatment presented itself. Would he be willing to have his head cut off and frozen for a few years, because there just might be a procedure in the future that could reattach his head to a healthy donor body? Sure, why not?

The potential of a life, even if it's a life long after everyone he knows is gone, is a risk Travis is willing to take. And it works. He wakes up with a brand new, super fantastic, healthy body. Except it isn't 100 years later. It's only five.

Which is great because he still has his parents and his friends ... well, sort of. Everyone is five years older than him, of course. He has to go back to high school and they've already graduated. And that includes Travis's girlfriend, who has grieved him and moved on.

NOGGIN is a coming of age story unlike any other as Travis must restart his old life in a new body, adjust to his celebrity status (he's one of only a few people who have survived the re-attachment surgery), convince his girlfriend they are still meant to be together (even though she's engaged to someone else), and figure out why his best friend (who came out to him just before the beheading) apparently never told anyone else he was gay.

John Corey Whaley, author of the Printz Award/William C. Morris Award-winning WHEN THINGS COME BACK, tackles all these heavy issues with the sarcastic wit and humor of a sixteen year old boy, taking the reader on such an enjoyable ride that it's easy to suspend the disbelief of the original premise. Travis is just so darn likable you can't help but root for him, even though you know the things he wants aren't necessarily what's best for him.

Appropriate for grades 9 and up because of some language and, shall we say, typical teenage boy situations. NOGGIN will appeal to any high schoolers, but would be ideal for the reluctant male reader.


Dumplin’ by Julie Murphy

Go big or go home is the line that graces the cover of DUMPLIN’ and let’s just say the latest YA from Julie Murphy takes that advice to heart.

Willowdean Dickson is fierce and fearless, or so she seems to those around her. She’s always been comfortable as plus sized (and never insecure around either her gorgeous BF or her mother, the former Miss Teen Blue Bonnet).

But when she falls for the hot new guy at work, and he seems to like her right back, she starts having doubts like never before. When things get complicated with him, and she can’t seem to get over the death of her beloved aunt (who passed due to complications from extreme weight), Willowdean needs something to refresh her swagger.

So why not enter the local beauty pageant? You know, the one her mother won when she was younger. The one that pretty much shuts down the entire county this time every year. The one traditionally filled with contestants who have a certain kind of “look.”

Traditionally, the pageant doesn’t include girls obsessed with Dolly Parton and red suckers. Or those NOT obsessed with their dress size. And that’s what makes it perfect.

Unwittingly inspiring a group of other girls to become contestants too, Willowdean decides to embrace her role as beauty queen because, dang it, she deserves to be in that pageant as much as anyone else. Sure, she and her friends aren’t “typical,” and the whole thing might raise some eyebrows, but it might just open some minds, as well.

Willowdean is a force of nature who proves to the reader (and herself) that everyone doesn’t (and shouldn’t) fit into someone else’s preconceived parameters. And, pardon the spoiler, but don’t read this if you want a “she lost 100 pounds and lived happily ever after” resolution. Because, thank God, this isn’t about that. DUMPLIN’ gets to the heart of the matter, and while Willowdean is certainly a sympathetic character, you never once feel sorry for her. She’s in control of her destiny, comfortable in her own skin, and will no doubt be an inspiration for many readers as well.

I fell in love with Julie Murphy’s writing with her debut SIDE EFFECTS MAY VARY, and this second novel is just as good. Fans of Rainbow Rowell and John Green will feel right at home between Murphy’s pages. With the movie rights already snatched up, I'm confident Julie Murphy will be a writer you’ll be hearing about a lot -- and I look forward to seeing where she takes us next.


ANOTHER DAY by David Levithan

In 2012, David Levithan gave us EVERY DAY, the story of A who wakes each day in a new body. A tries hard to keep from disturbing the lives he briefly inhabits, but when he meets Rhiannon—a kind, teenage girl caught in a not-so kind relationship—A can’t just let her go. Now readers can experience their extraordinary love story through Rhiannon’s eyes in ANOTHER DAY, what the author calls the first novel’s “twin.”

Revisiting the original story from Rhiannon’s perspective expands the tale, fills in the blanks on her encounters with A as well as the backstory of her relationship with nasty boyfriend Justin. Although we are removed from A (to be honest, I missed being in his head), we get to feel what it’s like for Rhiannon to struggle with the unusualness of A’s situation, as well as understand more deeply how and why she feels such a special connection.

The beauty of these twin books is that either can be read first, with the other becoming a return portal into the story. Even though you know where the path is headed the second time around, the detours provide enough new information and details to make it just as intriguing a read. Had I read EVERY DAY more recently, I may have felt differently, but returning to this story after some time away was like re-reading a favorite book—something I adore.

All that said, I would really really really (yes, really) like to see a true sequel that reveals what happens next. Given what other fans have posted online, I’m not the only one.

School Library Journal pegs it appropriate for grade 10 and up.