Hughes, Mark Peter
Hughes, Mark Peter
Born in Liverpool, England; brought to the United States at the age of one; married; wife's name Karen; children: Evan, Lucía, Zoe.
Best Books for the Teen Age selection, New York Public Library, for I Am the Wallpaper.
YOUNG ADULT NOVELS
I Am the Wallpaper, Delacorte Press (New York, NY), 2005.
Lemonade Mouth, Delacorte Press (New York, NY), 2007.
Mark Peter Hughes was born in Liverpool, England, at the same hospital where famed Beatle John Lennon was born. His time in Great Britain was short, however, because Hughes's family moved to the United States when he was just a year old. They lived in Massachusetts, then California, before finally settling in Barrington, Rhode Island, where Hughes spent most of his childhood. He began telling stories and then writing them down when he was still quite young. Many of the events of his youth stuck with him and became fodder for the stories he now writes as an adult. Hughes was short for his age most of the way through school, and he has vivid memories of fearing gym class, where he was concerned about getting trampled by his teammates whenever they played any game that involved traveling with a ball. Keying in to those memories has allowed Hughes to write heartfelt novels for young adults because he can tap into the thoughts that go through a teenager's mind, as well as the concerns and hopes that fill their days.
Hughes's first young adult novel, I Am the Wallpaper, recounts the adventures of thirteen-year-old Floey Packer. Floey feels like she is as invisible as the wallpaper whenever her older, more vibrant sister, Lillian, is in the room. The summer following seventh grade Floey decides she is going to change that and present the world with a newer, better version of herself to get noticed. She sets out to make a series of cosmetic changes that involve coloring her hair purple, and takes to wearing a black fedora hat. She also forces herself to act differently in an attempt to be more exciting and flamboyant. Floey's plans seem to backfire, however. Not only is her new personality not attracting new friends, but she is starting to lose her old friends. Floey finds herself in a conflict with her best friend, Azra; and when she meets a cute boy named Calvin at her sister's wedding, she succeeds in driving him off as well. When Floey's cousins come to visit, they decide to play a prank on Floey. It involves setting up a Web site and publishing her diary online, along with a somewhat risqué picture of her. Suddenly, Floey is getting a lot more attention, but not all of it is good, and she begins to wonder if being invisible was not so bad after all.
A Kirkus Reviews critic found the story to be "an amusing, quirky tale," and concluded it makes "an entertaining contribution to the current private-diary-made-public trend." School Library Journal contributor Rhona Campbell cheerfully reported that "Floey Packer … bursts right off the page with an engaging vivacity." However, Kliatt contributor Myrna Marler pointed out that "all the attention on Floey's oversize mammary glands by a male writer in a book which almost certainly will be read only by girls seems off." A reviewer for Publishers Weekly felt the book lacked any kind of clear lesson for Floey, but remarked that "Hughes offers a well-orchestrated plot, hilarious scenarios, snappy dialogue and a vulnerable, believable heroine."
Lemonade Mouth, Hughes's second offering in the young adult category, begins with five teenagers in detention. When they all find themselves singing along with a jingle on the radio, they are inspired to form a band. The five new friends practice in the basement of the school, where the "geek" activities are relegated, and find that, unified, they feel less like outcasts and more a part of something special. They call their band Lemonade Mouth in honor of the frozen lemonade machine that is in the hall near their practice spot. But when the machine disappears to make room for a soda machine as part of a corporate sponsorship deal that will result in the school getting a new scoreboard, the kids protest. At the Halloween dance where they are scheduled to play, they bring up the removal of the lemonade machine, resulting in a riot and yet more detention for the band members. As an additional part of their punishment, Lemonade Mouth is banned from participating in the school talent contest. But now the former outcasts have made an impression on their schoolmates, and there is a public outcry demanding that they be allowed to play. Readers get a diverse set of viewpoints, as each band member tells his or her own story in rotating journal entries. Booklist contributor Debbie Carton commented that "Hughes's obvious musical knowledge contributes greatly to the verisimilitude" of the tale. A Publishers Weekly critic believed that "readers will delight in watching these well-developed characters stand up for what they believe in and, in the end, learn who they are." Corinda J. Humphrey, in a review for School Library Journal, called Hughes's book "a tale of underdogs getting a break in the world."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Booklist, February 15, 2007, Debbie Carton, review of Lemonade Mouth, p. 71.
Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books, September, 2005, Karen Coats, review of I Am the Wallpaper, p. 20; June, 2007, Karen Coats, review of Lemonade Mouth, p. 421.
Kirkus Reviews, May 1, 2005, review of I Am the Wallpaper, p. 539; January 15, 2007, review of Lemonade Mouth, p. 74.
Kliatt, May, 2005, Myrna Marler, review of I Am the Wallpaper, p. 14; March, 2007, Janis Flint-Ferguson, review of Lemonade Mouth, p. 14.
Publishers Weekly, June 20, 2005, review of I Am the Wallpaper, p. 77; March 12, 2007, review of Lemonade Mouth, p. 59.
School Library Journal, May, 2005, Rhona Campbell, review of I Am the Wallpaper, p. 130; May, 2007, Corinda J. Humphrey, review of Lemonade Mouth, p. 134.
Voice of Youth Advocates, August, 2005, Ann T. Reddy-Damon, review of I Am the Wallpaper, p. 218; February, 2007, Robyn Guedel, review of Lemonade Mouth, p. 526.
Beatrice Web site,http://www.beatrice.com/ (April 10, 2007), interview with Mark Peter Hughes.
BookLoons,http://www.bookloons.com/ (January 9, 2008), J.A. Kaszuba Locke, review of I Am the Wallpaper.
BookPleasures.com,http://www.bookpleasures.com/ (January 9, 2008), review of I Am the Wallpaper.
Bookshelves of Doom,http://bookshelvesofdoom.blogs.com/ (April 13, 2007), review of Lemonade Mouth.
Cynsations,http://cynthialeitichsmith.blogspot.com/ (June 14, 2005), Cynthia Leitich Smith, review of I Am the Wallpaper.
Mark Peter Hughes Home Page,http://www.markpeterhughes.com (January 9, 2008).
OMS Book Blog,http://omsbookblog.blogspot.com/ (August 21, 2007), review of Lemonade Mouth.
Shrieky's Corner,http://shriekyscorner.blogspot.com/ (September 16, 2007), review of I Am the Wallpaper.