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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: “Just Jaime” by Terri Libenson

Image via Goodreads

Genre: Middle Grade, Graphic Novel
Series: Emmie & Friends
Rating: 5 out of 5
Recommend to Others?: Yes

 

ABOUT: Friends. Frenemies. Middle school…

The last day of seventh grade has Jaime and Maya wondering who their real friends are.

Jaime knows something is off with her friend group. They’ve started to exclude her and make fun of the way she dresses and the things she likes. At least she can count on her BFF, Maya, to have her back . . . right?

Maya feels more and more annoyed with Jaime, who seems babyish compared to the other girls in their popular group. It’s like she has nothing in common with Jai anymore. Are their days as BFFs numbered . . . ?

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My Review:
Another fantastic read from Terri Libenson! Navigating friendships is a timeless, relatable endeavor.

I like that Jaime is her 100% authentic self through everything that happens and even acknowledges her flaws and how her actions might have affected others. Briana just wanted to fit in – appearances really matter at this age – and I liked that by the end she (and Jaime too) is changed for the better.

The author executes the realism of the conflict through well described and drawn internal/external conflicts. The reappearance of past characters was a nice surprise. And, of course, Libenson’s illustrations dazzled and delighted me.

I read this book in one sitting and I can’t wait to read her next book, Becoming Briana, when it comes out next year! Libenson writes great books and is a wonderful storyteller and illustrator. She expertly captures the essence of middle school life in all it’s great and terrible glory.

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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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Book Reviews

NetGalley Book Review: “Llamas With Lemonade” by Ariana Koultourides

FULL TITLE: Llamas With Lemonade: An Unusual Animal ABC

Thank you to Annick Press and NetGalley for the e-copy to read and review.

Pub Date: September 10, 2019

Image via NetGalley

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

ABOUT: Get ready to jump rope with jaguars and sip lemonade with llamas. Introducing a delightful animal-themed ABC book that will have toddlers and parents grinning from A to Z. In addition to helping with letter recognition, Llamas With Lemonade introduces toddlers to uppercase and lowercase letters, and to alliteration. The adorable parade of animals and their often-unusual objects helps little ones build their vocabulary. The book’s oversized, case-bound board book format and irresistibly cute animals in soft pastel colors make it a perfect addition to any nursery library.

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My Review:
Llamas with Lemonade is a super cute started book for kids just beginning to learn the alphabet. It’s a very brief book – no story. Instead, focusing on letter to word association.

This definitely is an unusual way to learn the alphabet and fun for child readers. They simultaneously learn different animals and an object paired with them of the same letter. This brings a real world association into the mix.

I love how each full page spread is a different color, creating an open atmosphere. There’s a lot of negative space but I think it works in the author’s favor. Kids will focus on learning and internalizing what they see instead of multiple actions going on.

I love the cover and title of the book; they’re what first drew my attention to this books because llamas are awesome and lemonade is delicious.

My favorite match-ups were for the letters G, L, O, U, V, and W.

Llamas with Lemonade is a good book for a kid to have on their bookshelf!

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Book Reviews

Book Review: “Don’t Let The Pigeon Drive The Bus” by Mo Willems

Image via Barnes & Noble

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

 

ABOUT: When a bus driver takes a break from his route, a very unlikely volunteer springs up to take his place-a pigeon! But you’ve never met one like this before. As he pleads, wheedles, and begs his way through the book, children will love being able to answer back and decide his fate.

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My Review:
My favorite one-eyed delights again! He doesn’t like it when he can’t get his way. The illustrations are cute and the writing is solid for this age group. I love how participatory Willems books are. I would definitely recommend this book to parents.

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Book Reviews

Book Review: “You Are (Not) Small” by Anna Kang, Illustrations by Christopher Weyant

Image via Goodreads

Genre: Picture Books, Children’s Fiction
Rating: 2 out of 5
Recommend to Others?: No

 

ABOUT: Two fuzzy creatures can’t agree on who is small and who is big, until a couple of surprise guests show up, settling it once and for all!

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My Review:
I’m a big fan of the illustrations but not as much with the story. I like the idea of the story but think it could’ve been clearer. I think kid-me would have been confused. The illustrations are adorable. Who wouldn’t want to read a book about such fuzzy cuddly-looking creatures?!

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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.

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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.