Criss Cross

Common Sense Media says

Lyrical tale of small-town teens in a '60s summer.




Newbery Medal and Honors

What parents need to know

Positive messages

Focuses intently on the small, mundane things in life, but really shows the beauty in them.

Positive role models

Characters aren't defined and are difficult to keep track of, but they seem to all be well behaved and thoughtful.

Not applicable
Not applicable

One instance of s--t.


A soft drink brand is mentioned.

Drinking, drugs, & smoking

A character uses chewing tobacco, which is depicted as being disgusting.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that Criss Cross is a Newbery-wining novel by Lynne Rae Perkins about small-town teens whose paths cross one summer in the 1960s. There's one instance of swearing, and a teen character uses chewing tobacco, which his friends find revolting.

Parents say

Kids say

What's the story?

This book is about one '60s-era summer in the lives of an assortment of very nice small-town teens. Just like a real small-town summer for teens, not very much happens. Life is pleasingly slow and languid. They listen to the radio, wonder about the opposite sex and about themselves, hang out, talk, grow a little, change a bit, come to a few understandings they didn't have before.

One boy is inspired by a college coffeehouse to take some guitar lessons in the basement of the church. A girl befriends and helps out an elderly woman. Paths cross, connections are made, or missed. It's real life, lyrically rendered.

Is it any good?


CRISS CROSS is an intriguing book, absolutely deserving of major awards. It has no plot, only slightly defined characters who are hard to tell apart or keep track of, no hero or protagonist or clear point of view, no action or suspense or mystery, just a touch of gentle humor. And yet ... it is a deeply lovely book, profoundly observant and wise about the little things in life that most books, children's or adult, ignore, or perhaps don't even notice. So what keeps the pages turning? Is it the gorgeous writing, the penetrating insights, the little bits of philosophy and keen observation?

It's something of a little miracle, really -- the author spends three whole pages describing a boy looking at himself in the mirror, and it's almost impossible to put down. Either this kind of thing grabs you, or it doesn't -- and for most kids age 10 and up, it won't. A few, those with a thoughtful or poetic or mystical bent, will find it enthralling.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about the many little observations and insights in the book.

  • How do people connect, or miss connecting?

  • What are the moments that push our lives in different directions?

  • Is there only one person out there for each of us?

Book details

Author:Lynne Rae Perkins
Genre:Contemporary Fiction
Book type:Fiction
Publisher:HarperCollins Children's Books
Publication date:February 21, 2006
Number of pages:337
Read aloud:10
Read alone:11
Award:Newbery Medal and Honors

This review of Criss Cross was written by

About our rating system

  • ON: Content is age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • PAUSE: Know your child; some content may not be right for some kids.
  • OFF: Not age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • NOT FOR KIDS: Not appropriate for kids of any age.

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Our star rating assesses the media's overall quality.

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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Kid, 11 years old August 4, 2009

Criis Cross is GREAT!

This book was so cool!!!! i love it when peoples' lives intertwine in books! I think Lynne Rae Perkins did a wonderful job not only writing this book, but explaining teenage life! One of the best books I've ever read!
What other families should know
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking
Educational value
Great messages
Great role models
Kid, 12 years old February 8, 2010

Over all bad!

This was the worst book I have ever read it had no plot no action and was just bad!!! I had to read it for a school project all I wanted to do was get to the last page! My advice don't waste ur time you'll never get it back.
Parent of a 11 year old Written bylrthomp April 9, 2008
AGENot rated for age

A truly wonderful work of literature

Set in the 1970s, the story concerns a girl and boy whose paths cross as they embark into adolescence. Two things stood out for me about this book. 1. The language is spare and perfect, and the voice perfectly captures the mind of a twelve-year old, trying to grasp the big picture from the handful of clues their brief life has presented them, so far. 2. For once, a story about tweens or teens in which none of the adults are behaving badly. No addictions, alcoholism, abuse, neglect, intrusion, etc etc. The parents are somewhat peripheral to the kids' lives, as is appropriate for their age, but they know they are there for them. There is an overall sense that life is confusing and plain weird sometimes, but in the end, things work out. Kids may be put off at first by the introspective mode of the storytelling and the somewhat slow pace (and alternation between narrators), but soon they will find themselves drawn into this world. Some readers (adult and kid) have complained initially that "nothing happens," but by the end you realize that a lot has happened. This is a wonderful book that will stay with any reader for a long time.


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