Post-it Note Reviews of Elementary and Middle Grade Books
Now that I work in an elementary library, I’m reading a lot more titles for younger readers. It’s been super interesting to me to see what the students (grades K-5) check out. I’ve spent so long completely in the world of YA and am glad for an opportunity to work with younger readers and to read all of the great picture books, chapter books, and middle grade books I’ve missed out on!
Post-It Note reviews are a great way to display books in your library or classroom, a way to let kids recommend their favorite titles without having to get up in front of everyone and do a book talk, and an easy way to offer a more personal recommendation than just the flap copy offers.
All summaries are from the publishers. Transcription of Post-it note review under the summary.
Newbery Honor winner Joan Bauer hits a home run with her newest protagonist, who always sees the positive side of any situation.
Jeremiah is not one to let anything keep him down. Starting with his adoption by computer genius Walt, Jeremiah has looked on his life as a series of lucky breaks. When a weak heart keeps him from playing his beloved baseball, Jeremiah appoints himself the team coach. When Walt has to move for another new assignment, Jeremiah sees it as a great chance to explore a new town. But no sooner do they arrive than a doping scandal is revealed and the town feels betrayed and disgraced. Jeremiah takes it as his personal mission to restore the town’s morale and help the teams bounce back and remember how to soar. Full of humor, heart, and baseball lore, Soar is Joan Bauer at her best.
(POST-IT SAYS: I usually love Joan Bauer, but this title lacked depth—characters felt like props and MC doesn’t feel nuanced. People who like “inspirational” unrelenting positivity and adult-sounding sixth graders may enjoy this. Ages 10-14)
From the author of the acclaimed bestseller Holes, winner of the Newbery Award and the National Book Award, comes Fuzzy Mud, a New York Times bestseller.
Be careful. Your next step may be your last.
Fifth grader Tamaya Dhilwaddi and seventh grader Marshall Walsh have been walking to and from Woodridge Academy together since elementary school. But their routine is disrupted when bully Chad Hilligas challenges Marshall to a fight. To avoid the conflict, Marshall takes a shortcut home through the off-limits woods. Tamaya, unaware of the reason for the detour, reluctantly follows. They soon get lost. And then they find trouble. Bigger trouble than anyone could ever have imagined.
In the days and weeks that follow, the authorities and the U.S. Senate become involved, and what they uncover might affect the future of the world.
(POST-IT SAYS: This was great—fast-paced, super interesting, and filled with tension. The cautionary tale puts the characters in real peril. Readers will race through this suspenseful story. Ages 9-12)
For twelve-year-old Emily, the best thing about moving to San Francisco is that it’s the home city of her literary idol: Garrison Griswold, book publisher and creator of the online sensation Book Scavenger (a game where books are hidden in cities all over the country and clues to find them are revealed through puzzles). Upon her arrival, however, Emily learns that Griswold has been attacked and is now in a coma, and no one knows anything about the epic new game he had been poised to launch. Then Emily and her new friend James discover an odd book, which they come to believe is from Griswold himself, and might contain the only copy of his mysterious new game.
Racing against time, Emily and James rush from clue to clue, desperate to figure out the secret at the heart of Griswold’s new game—before those who attacked Griswold come after them too.
(POST-IT SAYS: An excellent addition to the field of puzzle-solving books. Suspend your disbelief and get caught up in the mystery, ciphers, literary allusions, and the journeys around San Francisco. Fun and satisfying. Books #2 and #3 are out, too. Ages 9-13)
Jacqueline Woodson is the 2018-2019 National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature
Jacqueline Woodson’s first middle-grade novel since National Book Award winner Brown Girl Dreaming celebrates the healing that can occur when a group of students share their stories.
It all starts when six kids have to meet for a weekly chat—by themselves, with no adults to listen in. There, in the room they soon dub the ARTT Room (short for “A Room to Talk”), they discover it’s safe to talk about what’s bothering them—everything from Esteban’s father’s deportation and Haley’s father’s incarceration to Amari’s fears of racial profiling and Ashton’s adjustment to his changing family fortunes. When the six are together, they can express the feelings and fears they have to hide from the rest of the world. And together, they can grow braver and more ready for the rest of their lives.
(POST-IT SAYS: Beautiful. Amazing. Phenomenal. A deeply moving and compassionate look at politics and policies and how they affect children and families. A masterful story of community and friendship. Ages 10-14)
Tight: Lately, Bryan’s been feeling it in all kinds of ways . . .
Bryan knows what’s tight for him—reading comics, drawing superheroes, and hanging out with no drama. But drama is every day where he’s from, and that gets him tight, wound up.
And now Bryan’s friend Mike pressures him with ideas of fun that are crazy risky. At first, it’s a rush following Mike, hopping turnstiles, subway surfing, and getting into all kinds of trouble. But Bryan never really feels right acting so wrong, and drama really isn’t him. So which way will he go, especially when his dad tells him it’s better to be hard and feared than liked?
But if there’s one thing Bryan’s gotten from his comic heroes, it’s that he has power—to stand up for what he feels . . .
Torrey Maldonado delivers a fast-paced, insightful, dynamic story capturing urban community life. Readers will connect with Bryan’s journey as he navigates a tough world with a heartfelt desire for a different life.
(POST-IT SAYS: An emotionally honest look at friendship, choices, and the pressure to be seen as tough. Complex characters and tense situations drive this story about identity, family, and positive choices/personal responsibility. Ages 10-14)
Photo-packed series explores the stories and science behind animal sanctuaries. Who says you can’t teach an old dog new tricks? Visit the Senior Dog Sanctuary of Maryland to meet three very special old dogs—Mino, Buffy, and Jack—who are ready and waiting to make new families very happy. Includes full-color photos, maps, and graphics throughout.
At many animal shelters, older pets are often overlooked in favor of puppies and kittens. But you’ll find only dogs over the age of six at the Senior Dog Sanctuary of Maryland. Mino, Jack, and Buffy are three dog roommates at the SDS, each having a unique personality but all of them in need of a new home. For every dog at SDS, the road to release is a different one but always features rescue, recovery, rehabilitation, and ultimately release. Join Mino as he shares stories about Buffy, Jack, and the SDS staff they get ready for their forever families. Other books in the photo-packed Sanctuary Stories series include Welcome, Wombat.
(POST-IT SAYS: Of course I recommend this book about senior dogs and animal sanctuaries! Lots of information about rescue, health, rehabilitation, building trust, new homes, and even death. Sweet stories of new homes and happiness are mixed in throughout. Ages 7-10)
My senior dogs, including rescue Oscar, approve of this book!
Kristy’s mom is getting married, and Kristy is going to be a bridesmaid! The only problem? Fourteen kids are coming to town for the wedding. Kristy, Claudia, Mary Anne, Stacey, Dawn, and Mallory think they can handle it, but that’s before they spend a week changing diapers, stopping arguments, solving mix-ups, and planning activities. It’s the biggest job the BSC has ever had, but they’ll work together to make sure Kristy’s big day is a success!
(POST-IT SAYS: Can’t go wrong with this series. For some reason, this title’s details really stuck in my mind for 30ish years. Fun to see it come to life. I was wary of the series losing Raina’s art, but the books remain great. Ages 8-12)
For fans of Smile and Real Friends comes a debut graphic novel about friendship and finding where you “click” in middle school.
Olive wants to get in on the act . . .
. . . Any act!
Olive “clicks” with everyone in the fifth grade—until one day she doesn’t. When a school variety show leaves Olive stranded without an act to join, she begins to panic, wondering why all her friends have already formed their own groups . . . without her. With the performance drawing closer by the minute, will Olive be able to find her own place in the show before the curtain comes up?Author-illustrator Kayla Miller has woven together a heartfelt and insightful story about navigating friendships, leaning on family, and learning to take the stage in the most important role of all.
(POST-IT SAYS: Absolutely charming and great. A really heartfelt and positive exploration of friendship, fitting in, and standing out. Fortunately, it looks like this is the first in a series about Olive’s adventures. Ages 8-12)
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About Amanda MacGregor
Amanda MacGregor works in an elementary library, loves dogs, and can be found on Twitter @CiteSomething.
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