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Book Reviews

Book Review: “Brave” by Svetlana Chmakova

Image via Goodreads

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

 

ABOUT: In his daydreams, Jensen is the biggest hero that ever was, saving the world and his friends on a daily basis. But his middle school reality is VERY different – math is hard, getting along with friends is hard…Even finding a partner for the class project is a big problem when you always get picked last. And the pressure’s on even more once the school newspaper’s dynamic duo, Jenny and Akilah, draw Jensen into the whirlwind of school news, social experiment projects, and behind-the-scenes club drama. Jensen’s always played the middle school game one level at a time, but suddenly, someone’s cranked up the difficulty setting. Will those daring daydreams of his finally work in his favor, or will he have to find real solutions to his real life problems?

 

My Review:
Another crazy drama-filled adventure at Berrybrook Middle School! Brave is a great read that centers around the issue of bullying and the obvious signs and subtle signs.

Jensen is clearly being bullied but he doesn’t see it that way (is in denial). Brave depicts bullying from all sides and how it effects the person the person being bullied and the bully (also wickedly called “lizard brains”) through a physiological lens. Svetlana Chmakova does a great job weaving this heartbreaking issue into the story in a non-patronizing way, an accessible way.

Every character is dynamically crafted and undergoes some or total change throughout the story. I like that other than bullying, the book also touches upon so many things, such as friendship, self-esteem, civil disobedience, and credible journalism. A lot of topics really but without being to weighty.

I was totally engrossed in the story and couldn’t put it down. I was wholly invested in Jensen’s story and how he dealt with being bullied. Brave is a fantastic story that everyone should read because bullying transcends middle grade age. This book will help someone who is going through the same experiences as Jensen.

Categories
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.