This December Holidays Library Lesson covers winter holidays from all over the world! Features Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Las Posadas, Pancha Ganapati, Boxing Day, and La Befana. Includes whole-group library lesson, scrolling slideshow, Recommended Reads, Scavenger Hunt activity, and lesson plan template.

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Review: My Life With the Walter Boys (Novak)

AUTHOR: Ali Novak
SERIES: My Life With the Walter Boys, book 1
PUBLISHER: Sourcebooks Fire/WattPad
ISBN: 9781402297861
PAGES: 363
SOURCE: NetGalley
GENRE: contemporary romance

SUMMARY: After her parents and sister are killed in a car accident, Jackie travels from New York City to a huge Colorado ranch to live with the rowdy Walter family, which has 11 boys and one girl.

IF THIS BOOK WERE FOOD, IT WOULD BE: Lays potato chips–the regular flavor–total junkfood, but you can’t eat read just one page.

WHAT I LIKED: On one hand, Walter Boys is a quick, fun read that I completed in about a day. I enjoyed it the same way I enjoy potato chips or cookies–it’s junkfood not meant for a steady diet. Somehow, despite its many flaws, I still enjoyed reading it, and I think many teens will like it, too.

I liked the family. Even though Katherine and George make some questionable parenting decisions (such as leaving two teen boys and an unrelated teen girl alone for the weekend), I really liked them for being the involved parents they are. The brothers’ constant pranks are hilarious, and I like how they are not perfect. They argue, disobey, talk back, and fight, but despite all that, readers know they love each other as a family should.

WHAT I DIDN’T LIKE: I rolled my eyes. A. Lot. Jackie–an appropriately boring name for this boring character–is a total Mary Sue. She is a “good girl” who strives for perfection and wears boring clothes and studies constantly. She freaks out if she is late and does selfless good deeds all day long. I never understood why this house full of hotties has not one but TWO boys who think boring Jackie is the cat’s meow.

Details are contrived and inconsistent with human behavior. Jackie mentions the difficulty she has climbing a hayloft ladder in a pencil skirt. Agreed. Pencil skirts are confining and climbing a ladder while wearing one would be tough. But a few minutes later, she’s off riding a horse (wearing the SAME pencil skirt) but never mentions that being impossible without having to hike up the skirt to her hips.

Other contrived details for the sake of plot (just a few examples):

  • Jackie’s deceased sister’s clubbing dress mysteriously ends up in a box Jackie packed herself. Jackie is “shocked” when she finds it.
  • The parents leave a teen girl and two teen boys alone together for an entire weekend so the rest of the family could go camping. Naturally, the lights go out.
  • The rancher/handy-man father can’t fix a simple door lock or replace a door knob. (He tried!)  Of course, boy + girl get locked in.
  • The parents either don’t know Alex and Jackie are dating, or they don’t care (pick your poison). They live in the same house and spend plenty of time alone in bedrooms.
  • Mary was that rude to Jackie, even knowing Jackie lives with Alex and has no reason not to tell him what she said. Seriously?

And those two boys who fall in like with her? We’ll start with Alex. By the middle of the story, I thought he was the one Jackie needed to be with. He’s sweet and quiet, and the two of them are friends. They are alike. They dance in the rain. But suddenly, Alex becomes this totally immature douche, and it seemed like he was just using Jackie to make another girl mad. And at the same time, Cole, a complete asshole who might be cute but is a TOTAL JERK, does a full 180 and becomes this sensitive, sweet, helpful-around-the-house guy who *luurrvveess* the lovely but DESPERATELY BORING Jackie. What?!! When did that happen?

THE BOTTOM LINE: It’s fun as long as you don’t take it too seriously or look for inconsistencies. Three stars because it was entertaining.

STATUS IN MY LIBRARY: We don’t have it; it’s more high school than middle.

READALIKES: Megan Meade’s Guide to the McGowan Boys (Brian)


  • Overall: 3/5–despite my criticisms, it was entertaining!
  • Creativity: 2/5–a lot like Megan Meade
  • Characters: 2/5–didn’t like any of them
  • Engrossing: 4/5
  • Writing: 3/5
  • Appeal to teens: 4/5–a lot of teens will like this
  • Appropriate length to tell the story: 3/5


  • Language: mild-medium; a few sh**, no F-bombs
  • Sexuality: mild; some kissing and chest/ab lust
  • Violence: very mild; brothers get into fight
  • Drugs/Alcohol: medium; teen party with drinking; MC gets drunk
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