Yummy: The Last Days of a Southside Shorty by G. Neri & illustrated by Randy Duburke

Bibliographic Citation:
Neri, G. (2010). Yummy: The Last Days of a Southside Shorty. New York, NY: Lee & Low Books. 978-1584302674.

Yummy tells the story of 11-year-old Robert “Yummy” Sandifer who shot and killed his 14-year-old neighbor, Shavon Dean. It details the aftermath of the shooting and his days in hiding before he is ultimately murdered himself.

Critical Analysis & Personal Opinion:
I liked this book. I am a true crime junkie and juvenile delinquency and gang life have always peaked my interest. The story is told from the point of view of a fictional character named Roger who lives in the same neighborhood and sort of knows Yummy from school. Also, Roger’s older brother leads a similar life to Yummy. The book is Roger’s quest for truth, examining Yummy’s life to try and understand Yummy’s death.

I was already familiar with the story so I didn’t learn too much from it but it did make me think. And it was a quick read. Two things I love in books. If you’re interested in what happened to Robert “Yummy” Sandifer” check it out. This quote was really moving, “I don’t know which was worse, the way Yummy lived or the way he died.”


Loving vs. Virginia by Patricia Hruby Powell (author) & Shadra Strickland (illustrator)

Bibliographic Citation:
Powell, P. H. (2017). Loving vs. Virginia: A Documentary Novel of the Landmark Civil Rights Case. San Francisco, CA: Chronicle Books. 978-1452125909.

In the 1950’s in Caroline County, Virginia, during a time of racism, prejudice, and injustice, Richard and Mildred fell in love. Their life together was against the law, but their determination to be a family whenever and wherever ended up changing it. Mr. and Mrs. Loving were the face of the Supreme Court case that legalized interracial marriage. This documentary novel is this couple’s story of fighting discrimination and winning.

lovingvvirginiaCritical Analysis & Personal Opinion:
Nonfiction is my first love, and this book is very special to me. I’m in an interracial relationship that will (whenever we get around to it) evolve into an interracial marriage. At one point in history, loving the man I love would’ve been illegal just like it was for Richard and Milly. I experienced a range of emotions with this book as I tried to imagine what it would’ve been like if the law tried to keep me from Andrew. I couldn’t put this book down.

This book is still extremely relevant today because of the political climate and white nationalist movement that’s been taking place. This documentary novel is beautifully written in free verse, and alternates between Richard and Milly’s perspectives. It is evident that the author did her research through the interviews, photos, and news clippings. This is a must-have book in school and public libraries alike.


How They Croaked: The Awful Ends of the Awfully Famous by Georgia Bragg

croaked_Bibliographic Citation:
Bragg, Georgia. (2012). How They Croaked: The Awful Ends of the Awfully Famous. New York, NY: Bloomsbury USA Children’s. 978-0802727947.

How They Croaked tells the story of how nineteen prominent figures in history died without sugarcoating anything.

Critical Analysis & Personal Opinion:
Nonfiction is my first love. True crime came after that. As morbid and peculiar as it sounds, I love reading about death. How people died. What did it. Who did it. Where did it happen. I’m basically the Clue game of readers, so this book was right up my alley. More than that, I feel like I learned so much from this book. Am I the only person who didn’t know that C-Sections were named after Julius Caesar? Perhaps, but now I know. Am I the only one who didn’t know that President Garfield was assassinated but literally only died because people kept putting their germy hands in his wound? This book is seriously awesome. I learned all about Einstein’s brain being cut out and cut up during an unauthorized autopsy. Who wouldn’t want to read this book? I loved it. It’s a fast read, too. It is informative, gross, and creepy — it is everything a middle school kid wants in a book!


  • 2012 ALSC ALA Notable Children’s Books List 2012
  • 2012 International Reading Association Best Non-fiction Award
  • 2012 Top Ten Audio Books
  • 2012 YALSA ALA Quick Picks List for Nonfiction
  • 2012 Best Children’s Books of the Year, Bank Street
  • 2012 Capitol Choices Noteworthy Titles For Children and Teens
  • 2011 Cybils Awards Finalist (nonfiction)

Author Info:
Georgia Bragg is an artist and an author raised by artist parents in Los Angeles, CA. How They Croaked is her second book, and her most recent book is How They Choked Failures, Flops, and Flaws of the Awfully Famous. 

My Friend Dahmer by Derf Backderf

Bibliographic Citation:
Backderf, Derf. (2012). My Friend Dahmer. New York, NY: Abrams ComicArts. ISBN 9781419702174.

Image from Amazon.com (Click to redirect to site)

Image from Amazon.com
(Click to redirect to site)

Plot Summary:
My Friend Dahmer is a graphic novel that follows the adolescent life of Jeffrey Dahmer. The novel chronicles his parent’s rocky marriage, his strange and antisocial behavior in school, experimentation with animal corpses, and finally heading down the notorious path we all know he takes to become a serial killer. Derf Backderf provides first hand insight into who or what Jeffrey Dahmer was and how he got that way.

Critical Analysis:
Derf Backderf had the unique and unsettling opportunity to grow up and know Jeffrey Dahmer. It has been said that this book will satisfy someone’s morbid curiosity, and it definitely does. The art and text are interdependent to a degree, but the illustrations are so exquisite that they can almost tell the story without words. But of course you want to know more, you want more details, you want to know WHY Jeffrey Dahmer became such a prolific serial killer and why no one seemed to notice there was something off about him. And so there are words, and you read on…

Backderf segments the story into parts: the preface, the prologue, Parts 1 – 5 and the epilogue, each shedding a bizarre light on the dark history of Jeffrey Dahmer. Backderf transitions between panels and segmented sections flawlessly. He is a master of his craft and makes the reader enjoy an otherwise creepy and haunting chain of events. You turn page after page devouring the text, and studying the comic. The art is monochromatic, all done in grayscale with entire frames predominately black. All very fitting for such a gloomy tale. It is pure evil packaged into something beautiful.

Perhaps the most harrowing detail of it all comes at the end. Backderf receives a phone call from a friend who tells him that someone he graduated high school with is a cannibal, necrophiliac, serial killer. This friend asks Derf to guess who it might be and his second guess, that’s right his second guess, out of everyone in his class, is Jeffrey Dahmer. So on some level his capabilities, his tendencies, and who he would become were always known.

So what is there not to like about My Friend Dahmer? Well, not much. The subject matter and content can be a bit too mature for a young adult. At times it can even be a little much for an adult reader, but you have to expect a certain level of repulsion and maturity when reading a book about Jeffrey Dahmer. My biggest qualm with it all is that the title is very misleading. Jeffrey Dahmer was never Backderf’s friend. Backderf under no circumstances liked Jeffrey Dahmer or considered him to even be a part of his friend circle. Dahmer was just this guy that he knew and that’s about it.