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Book Reviews

Book Review: “Sunny Rolls The Dice” by Jennifer L. Holm & Matthew Holm, Watercolor by Lark Pien

Image via Goodreads

Genre: Middle Grade, Graphic Novel
Series: Sunny #3
Rating: 4 out of 5
Recommend to Others?: Yes

 

ABOUT: Too cool for school . . . or the least groovy girl in the grade?

Sunny’s just made it to middle school . . . and it’s making her life very confusing. All her best friend Deb wants to talk about is fashion, boys, makeup, boys, and being cool. Sunny’s not against any of these things, but she also doesn’t understand why suddenly everything revolves around them. She’s much more comfortable when she’s in her basement, playing Dungeons & Dragons with a bunch of new friends. Because when you’re sword fighting and spider-slaying, it’s hard to worry about whether you look cool or not. Especially when it’s your turn to roll the 20-sided die.

Trying hard to be cool can make you feel really uncool . . .

 

My Review:
Now this is what I have been waiting to read in this series: the middle school / middle grade aspect of Sunny’s life. She’s such a cute character that I really wanted to know more about her life in late 70s Pennsylvania. You definitely get a better sense of the kind of person Sunny is – she’s a pretty cool person.

Sunny faces two conflicts: growing up and staying true to herself. Sunny is who she is but she’s concerned that who she is and what she likes is not the way to go. Everyone young and old can relate to this universal internal conflict and peer pressure.

I liked seeing Sunny play Dungeons and Dragons. I’ve never played the game but learning about it was fun. It seems like a fun game to play.

Again I’m in love with the art and the cultural references. Sunny Rolls The Dice was definitely a step in the right direction. I hope there are more books about Sunny in the future.This is a great middle grade series and graphic novel.

 

More Sunny series:
Sunny Side Up – book 1
Swing It, Sunny – book 2

Categories
Book Reviews

Book Review: “Swing It, Sunny” by Jennifer L. Holm & Matthew Holm, Watercolor by Lark Pien

Image via Goodreads

Genre: Middle Grade, Graphic Novel
Series: Sunny #2
Rating: 3 out of 5
Recommend to Others?: Yes

 

ABOUT: Summer’s over and it’s time for Sunny Lewin to enter the strange and unfriendly hallways of . . . middle school. When her Gramps calls her from Florida to ask how she’s doing, she always tells him she’s fine. But the truth? Sunny is NOT having the best time.

Not only is the whole middle school thing confusing . . . but life at home is confusing, too. Sunny misses her brother Dale, who’s been sent to boarding school. But when Dale comes back, she STILL misses him . . . because he’s changed.

Luckily Sunny’s got her best friend and a mysterious new neighbor on her side . . . because she is NOT going let all this confusion get her down. Instead, she’s going to remain Sunny-side up!

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My Review:
Book 2 felt more like an impasse. Not much happened, very little action. You basically follow Sunny’s emotional journey as she tries to understand her brother’s drug problem and how it’s changed him. There’s little within the story that has to do with Sunny’s first year of middle school, which I was interested in also seeing more of.

As before, I liked the art and how certain scenes were conveyed. I think book 2 is meant to set up something bigger to happen in book 3. While I didn’t like this book as much as I did the first book I do plan to read book 3.

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Book Reviews

Book Review: “Pumpkinheads” by Rainbow Rowell, Illustrated by Faith Erin Hicks

Image via Goodreads

Genre: Young Adult Contemporary Romance, Graphic Novel
Rating: 5 out of 5
Recommend to Others?: Yes

 

ABOUT: Deja and Josiah are seasonal best friends.

Every autumn, all through high school, they’ve worked together at the best pumpkin patch in the whole wide world. (Not many people know that the best pumpkin patch in the whole wide world is in Omaha, Nebraska, but it definitely is.) They say good-bye every Halloween, and they’re reunited every September 1.

But this Halloween is different—Josiah and Deja are finally seniors, and this is their last season at the pumpkin patch. Their last shift together. Their last good-bye.

Josiah’s ready to spend the whole night feeling melancholy about it. Deja isn’t ready to let him. She’s got a plan: What if—instead of moping and the usual slinging lima beans down at the Succotash Hut—they went out with a bang? They could see all the sights! Taste all the snacks! And Josiah could finally talk to that cute girl he’s been mooning over for three years . . .

What if their last shift was an adventure?

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My Review:
I’d seen this book all over bookstagram and became curious about it, especially since it was a graphic novel written by Rainbow Rowell. I’d only read one book by her but I had  feeling this would be a good read. And it was.

Pumpkinheads follows the same format as your traditional summer romance story but instead takes place at a pumpkin patch. The setting right away set it apart from other stories. It’s Deja and Josiah’s last season at the pumpkin patch before they go off to college and Josiah’s last chance to confess to his crush. The adventure that ensues just to find this person is wild and funny. The night becomes a wonderful memory that’ll last forever.

The appeal is further enhanced by Hick’s stunning illustrations. I don’t think the story could’ve have been told any other way. Her art paired with Rowell’s exceptional storytelling brought the story to life.

While both characters are likable, I like Deja more than Josiah. I connected with her more because of her vibrant personality and she didn’t spend page after page moping.

If you haven’t yet, Pumpkinheads is a must read. You’ll be absorbed into the story instantly and have a grand time reading.

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Book Reviews

Book Review: “Just Ask!” by Sonia Sotomayor, Illustrated by Rafael López

Full Title – Just Ask!: Be Different, Be Brave, Be You

Image via Goodreads

Genre: Picture Books, Children’s Fiction
Rating: 5 out of 5
Recommend to Others?: Yes

 

ABOUT: Feeling different, especially as a kid, can be tough. But in the same way that different types of plants and flowers make a garden more beautiful and enjoyable, different types of people make our world more vibrant and wonderful.

In Just Ask, United States Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor celebrates the different abilities kids (and people of all ages) have. Using her own experience as a child who was diagnosed with diabetes, Justice Sotomayor writes about children with all sorts of challenges—and looks at the special powers those kids have as well. As the kids work together to build a community garden, asking questions of each other along the way, this book encourages readers to do the same: When we come across someone who is different from us but we’re not sure why, all we have to do is Just Ask.

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My Review:
Just Ask! embodies the idea of “sharing in our similarities, celebrate our difference.” Rich in color, bold in storytelling, this book offers an emphatic glimpse into children with disabilities and how they navigate the world. It teaches us to be patient and kind and to ask questions to improve understanding.

The illustrations are just gorgeous. They spread across page after page in bright colors and charming details. You feel at peace when looking at the pictures as the community comes to life. The characters are diverse, courageous, and happy in who they are. The make uniqueness cool.

Just Ask! is a must read for all ages; I highly recommend it!

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Book Reviews

Book Review: “Awkward” by Svetlana Chmakova

Image via Goodreads

Genre: Middle Grade, Graphic Novel
Series: Berrybrook Middle School #1
Rating: 5 out of 5
Recommend to Others?: Yes

 

ABOUT: Cardinal rule #1 for surviving school: Don’t get noticed by the mean kids.

Cardinal rule #2 for surviving school: Seek out groups with similar interests and join them.

On her first day at her new school, Penelope–Peppi–Torres reminds herself of these basics. But when she trips into a quiet boy in the hall, Jaime Thompson, she’s already broken the first rule, and the mean kids start calling her the “nerder girlfriend.” How does she handle this crisis? By shoving poor Jaime and running away!

Falling back on rule two and surrounding herself with new friends in the art club, Peppi still can’t help feeling ashamed about the way she treated Jaime. Things are already awkward enough between the two, but to make matters worse, he’s a member of her own club’s archrivals–the science club! And when the two clubs go to war, Peppi realizes that sometimes you have to break the rules to survive middle school!

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My Review:
Awkward was a fantastic read! I loved it a lot and energetically read it in one sitting. The book takes simple unofficial “cardinal” rules of middle school and amplifies them through expressive illustrations, relatable characters, and humor.

I don’t find Peppi awkward but rather imperfectly perfect. I connected with her on a personal level, acutely viewing the turmoil between the two clubs through her eyes. She’s a cool, friendly person, and performs as a uniquely ideal main character for a middle grade story. I don’t think I would have adored the story as much as I did if the MC had been different.

I also found Peppi and Jaime’s interactions super cute. Two ordinary remarkable people on the fringes of middle school social circles who are talented and friendly. It’s sweet.

Wonderful story. The illustrations are phenomenal and hilarious. I would highly recommend this book ad author. I look forward to reading more by Chmakova.

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Book Reviews

Book Review: “Sunny Side Up” by Jennifer L. Holm & Matthew Holm, Water Color by Lark Pien

Image via Goodreads

Genre: Middle Grade, Graphic Novel
Series: Sunny #1
Rating: 4 out of 5
Recommend to Others?: Yes

 

ABOUTSunny Lewin has been packed off to Florida to live with her grandfather for the summer. At first she thought Florida might be fun — it is the home of Disney World, after all. But the place where Gramps lives is no amusement park. It’s full of . . . old people. Really old people.

Luckily, Sunny isn’t the only kid around. She meets Buzz, a boy who is completely obsessed with comic books, and soon they’re having adventures of their own: facing off against golfball-eating alligators, runaway cats, and mysteriously disappearing neighbors. But the question remains — why is Sunny down in Florida in the first place? The answer lies in a family secret that won’t be secret to Sunny much longer. . .

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My Review:
Sunny Side Up was a cute, adventurous story set in 1976. The juxtaposition of the past and present was cool. Secretes are being kept with the same ferocity as a superhero. And, as superheroes come to learn, they cannot save everyone. I found that to be such a powerful theme for a middle grade book.

What I loved most about this book was the old comic art style. It was a nostalgic reminder of the kind of art you’d see in newspaper comic strips. And the addition of watercolor over the pages was aesthetically pleasing.

I rather liked the panels that had no words because they spoke louder than the one’s that did and I always admire people who can depict something without words.

Overall, a wonderful story I’d recommend for a fun, light bit of reading.

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Bookish Memes Top 10 Tuesday

Top 10 Tuesday: Books That Give Off Autumn Vibes

It’s Top 10 Tuesday again!

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme originally created by The Broke and the Bookish, but is now run by That Artsy Reader Girl.

Today’s prompt is: Books The Give Off Autumn Vibes

So for this list I picked book covers that to me gave off autumn vibes either in scenes or colors whether I’ve read the book or have it on my to-read shelf. I’ve included links to my reviews of titles that I’ve reviewed on this blog. All images via Goodreads.

 

 

Before Midnight: A Retelling of Cinderella by Cameron Dokey

 

Escape to the Mesa by StacyPlays

 

Fire Study by Maria V. Snyder

 

First Test by Tamora Pierce

 

Forever by Maggie Stiefvater (review)

 

Goodbye Summer, Hello Autumn by Kenard Pak (review)

 

A Pack of Blood and Lies by Olivia Wildenstein (review)

 

Spellweaver by Lynn Kurland

 

Terrier by Tamora Pierce

 

Your Lion Eyes by Christine Warren


And, As AlwaysHappy Reading!!!


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Categories
Book Reviews

Book Review: “Room On The Broom” by Julia Donaldson, Illustrated by Axel Scheffler

Image via Goodreads

Genre: Picture Books, Children’s Fiction
Rating: 4 out of 5
Recommend to Others?: Yes

 

ABOUTThe witch and her cat couldn’t be happier, flying through the sky on their broomstick-until the witch drops her hat, then her bow, then her wand! Luckily, three helpful animals find the missing items and all they want in return is a ride on the broomstick. But is there room on the broom for so many new friends? And when disaster strikes, will they be able to save the witch from the clutches of a hungry dragon?

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My Review:
Room On The Broom is a rather lovely book to read, especially around Halloween. It’s rhyme scheme is familiar and the rhythm easy to pick up. The pictures are adorable and the adventure the witch and friends go on delightful. I like the subtle lesson about friendship and that all the animals could speak. This was a pretty good book.

Categories
Book Reviews

Book Review: “Goodbye Summer, Hello Autumn” by Kenard Pak

Image via Goodreads

Genre: Picture Books, Children’s Fiction
Rating: 3.5 out of 5
Recommend to Others?: Yes

 

ABOUT: As trees sway in the cool breeze, blue jays head south, and leaves change their colors, everyone knows–autumn is on its way!

Join a young girl as she takes a walk through forest and town, greeting all the signs of the coming season. In a series of conversations with every flower and creature and gust of wind, she says good-bye to summer and welcomes autumn.

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My Review:
I liked Goodbye Summer, Hello Autumn. It’s quaint story and beautiful art sweeps across the pages like an autumn breeze. There is so much to marvel on every page. The reader goes on a gentle, quiet walk as the world transitions from summer to autumn. I like how this teaches kids the signs of a season and what it means when seasons change.

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About Books

Book Covers I’d Want Framed In My House As Wall Art