Varian Johnson Press



The Great Green Heist

  • “Pay attention! This terrific story speeds ahead on every page, but the lively characters will make you care enough to keep up. Do yourself a favor and start reading immediately.”
    — REBECCA STEAD, Newbery-winning author of When You Reach Me and Liar & Spy
  • "A political heist page-turner set in middle school? Is that even possible? Varian Johnson shows us how it's done, expertly walking the tightrope between true-to-life school experiences and belly laughs."
    — GORDON KORMAN, author of Swindle and The Hypnotists
  •  “This fast, funny heist novel takes the reader on a ride full of twists and turns. I’m a sucker for a good scam, and Jackson and his gang work one of the best in the business. Nice pull, Varian Johnson!”
    – JUDE WATSON, author of Loot and The 39 Clues: In Too Deep
    "The Great Greene Heist is one crazy cool caper!"
    – RITA WILLIAMS-GARCIA, Newbery Honor-winning author of One Crazy Summer and P.S. Be 11
  • "A smart, charming, and hilarious novel featuring one of my favorite protagonists in years. I'd follow Jackson Greene anywhere, and The Great Greene Heist is a fantastic ride."
    — MATT DE LA PENA, author of The Living and Mexican WhiteBoy
  • “The elaborate bait and switch of this fast-paced, funny caper novel will surprise its readers as much as the victims. They’ll want to reread immediately so they can admire the setup.”
    — Kirkus, Starred Review

Saving Maddie

  • A Bank Street College of Education Best Children's Book of 2011
  • "Johnson avoids heavy-handed messages with nuanced characters and a realistic treatment of Joshua and Maddie's complex relationship."-- Kirkus
  • "[A] sincere story...the questions Josh weighs about morality, God, and desire feel wholly genuine." -- Publishers Weekly
  • "Joshua's narration is immediate and yearning, and his struggle with identity is sympathetically relayed." -- The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books
  • "Joshua's confusion about how narrow his path must be…keeps readers turning pages. And the kissing doesn't hurt, either." -- Booklist
  • "...lively and endearing..." -- School Library Journal
  • "Varian Johnson has created a cast of multi-dimensional characters which young adult readers will relate to in Saving Maddie. This tale leads its readers through the apprehensions and anxieties of young relationships, and asks the question of whether the 'lost' can be 'saved.'"-- Sacramento Book Review
  • "Kudos to Johnson…a masterful dénouement." -- Austin American-Statesman
  • "Johnson masterfully develops his characters as they maintain their own voices, falter at times and search for possibilities." -- Crazy Quilts
  • " immensely hopeful book, one that asks the reader to look beyond appearances to the person inside." -- Book Nut
  • "Johnson explores issues…of belief, spirituality, religion. Of how hard it is to practice what one preaches, and what exactly does that mean. And he does so in a way that respects both sides of the coin: Joshua's path and Maddie's path." -- A Chair, A Fireplace & A Tea Cozy

My Life as a Rhombus

  • A 2009 Texas Library Association Tayshas High School Reading List Selection
  • A 2009 New York Public Library "Stuff for the Teen Age" Book Selection
  • Finalist, 2009 Texas Institute of Letters Award for Best Young Adult Book
  • Nominee, 2010-2011 Eliot Rosewater Indiana High School Book Award
  • "Without a bit of preaching, Varian Johnson gives us a story of two teenage girls who are faced with the consequences of unplanned pregnancies. Teens will love the emotional peaks and valleys of the tale and be gratified by the conclusion." -- Ellen Wittlinger, author of Hard Love
  • "My Life as a Rhombus is a sensitive and powerful friendship story about two very different girls who connect over the toughest decision either of them will ever make. In his YA debut, author Varian Johnson offers a realistic, heartfelt, and thoughtful take on unplanned teen pregnancy from the perspective of a young math whiz trying to reconcile her future and past." -- Cynthia Leitich Smith, author of Tantalize
  • “...there’s wry humor here, and the sometimes raw dialogue is well done. What's most interesting, though, is the way Rhonda tries to get beyond her past as she channels her anger and pain into numbers and theorems.” -- Booklist
  • “...Johnson’s exploration of Rhonda’s unprocessed anger over her own abortion is deftly handled...”
    -- The Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books (Recommended)
  • “[Johnson] has captured the struggles of teen girls perfectly...”
    -- TeensReadToo
  • “...Realistic and nuanced.” -- KLIATT
  • "Johnson's book strikes a good balance; it's gripping and sensitive at the same time. It doesn't oversimplify; it doesn't pull punches. And, perhaps most importantly, it does not pass judgment."
    -- The Edge of the Forest

A Red Polka Dot In A World Full Of Plaid

  • Essence Magazine Best Seller List (#6 for Paperback Fiction), March 2005
  • "This is a compelling story with dynamic characters. Maxine's wise-cracking tone, combined with her innocence, is captivating and endearing, and Deke exhibits signs of strength, love and friendship not often seen in young male characters. Newcomer Johnson offers a heartwarming story that will appeal to a broad audience. It touches on race, identity and learning to love unconditionally." -- Romantic Times Bookreviews Magazine
  • " enjoyable coming-of-age story of headstrong, sarcastic and vulnerable Maxine Phillips." -- A Place Of Our Own Bookclub

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