Post-It Note Reviews: Voting, bands, ghosts, and more!
It’s hardly unique to say that 2020 has zapped my ability to concentrate AND that it’s worked hard to ruin reading for me. Why escape into fiction when you can doomscroll endlessly? Despite some days where concentrating on a book feels impossible, I am still reading. And these short post-it reviews are currently perfect for me, as longer form thoughts are hard to conjure up.
All descriptions are from the publishers. The handwritten post-it reviews are transcribed after the descriptions.
The Voting Booth by Brandy Colbert (ISBN-13: 9781368053297 Publisher: Disney Press Publication date: 07/07/2020, Ages 12-18)
From Stonewall Award-winning author Brandy Colbert comes an all-in-one-day love story perfect for fans of The Sun is Also A Star.
Marva Sheridan was born ready for this day. She’s always been driven to make a difference in the world, and what better way than to vote in her first election?
Duke Crenshaw is so done with this election. He just wants to get voting over with so he can prepare for his band’s first paying gig tonight.
Only problem? Duke can’t vote.
When Marva sees Duke turned away from their polling place, she takes it upon herself to make sure his vote is counted. She hasn’t spent months doorbelling and registering voters just to see someone denied their right.
And that’s how their whirlwind day begins, rushing from precinct to precinct, cutting school, waiting in endless lines, turned away time and again, trying to do one simple thing: vote. They may have started out as strangers, but as Duke and Marva team up to beat a rigged system (and find Marva’s missing cat), it’s clear that there’s more to their connection than a shared mission for democracy.
Romantic and triumphant, The Voting Booth is proof that you can’t sit around waiting for the world to change—but some things are just meant to be.
(POST-IT SAYS: Excellent character-driven story about activism, grief, and connection. I want to be Marva’s best friend. It’s election season—get this front and center on your displays!)
All Together Now by Hope Larson (ISBN-13: 9780374313654 Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux Publication date: 08/04/2020)
All Together Now is New York Times bestselling author and illustrator Hope Larson’s pitch-perfect graphic novel follow-up for fans of All Summer Long, music lovers, and anyone navigating the ups and downs of friendship.
Middle-schooler Bina is having the best time playing in her new band with her friends, Darcy and Enzo. But both the band and her friendships begin to crumble when Darcy and Enzo start dating, effectively relegating Bina to third-wheel status.
To make matters worse, Bina’s best friend, Austin, starts developing a crush on her . . . one she is not sure she reciprocates. Now Bina must follow her heart. Can she navigate its twists and turns before the lights come up and the music starts playing?
(POST-IT SAYS: Really captures how complicated middle school relationships can be. Will especially speak to artists and musicians. Can be read on its own, though new readers will surely seek out book #1. Smart, honest, and engaging.)
Warm Blood Vol. 1 by Josh Tierney (ISBN-13: 9781733168700 Publisher: Buno Books Publication date: 05/19/2020)
The popular high-school mystery webcomic comes to print for the first time in this special edition from Buno. Join our hero Penny, a quiet girl who dreams of becoming a video game developer, as she navigates her first year at Greenwood High. There she must contend with a string of bizarre murders, potentially evil twins, rumors of shadow monsters, and a strange presence lurking just outside her window.
Helping Penny through it all are her friends, including her anime loving best buds from elementary school, a 4th wall smashing girl she meets on her first day, and a sweet awkward girl eager to be her BFF, and who happens to be very handy with a baseball bat. Josh Tierney is the creator of the Eisner, Harvey, Shuster, and Diamond-Gem nominated “Spera” series of fantasy graphic novels and co-creator of the sci-fi mini-series Halo-Gen. His projects are created in collaboration with artists from around the world.
Warm Blood includes work by Josh Tierney, Afu Chan, Saskia Gutenkunst, Joysuke, Winston Young, Naomi Franquiz, Marina Julia, Olivier Pichard, Jane Bak, Vlad Gusev, e jackson, Leiana Nitura, Blakely Inberg, Eva Eskelinen, F. Choo, Cleonique Hilsaca, Thomas Rouzière, Sandrine Han Jin Kuang, Mathilde Kitteh, Shanen Pae, Stephen Rodgers, Sara DuVall, Cat Sukiman, Xulia Vicente, Nuno Plati, Heikala, Crista Castro, Irma Kniivila, Stephanie Son,Cristina Rose Chua, María Ponce Esparcia, Kat Lyons, Gaby Epstein, and nims.
(POST-IT SAYS: If you like extremely strange, surreal, almost theater of the absurd-style stories, you’ll enjoy this. Loved all the different art styles. Weird in all the best ways.)
Stranger Things: Zombie Boys by Greg Pak, Valeria Favoccia (Illustrator) (ISBN-13: 9781506713090 Publisher: Dark Horse Comics Publication date: 01/21/2020)
Following the events of season one of Netflix’s pop-culture sensation Stranger Things, our main characters struggle with returning to normal life after overcoming supernatural horror.
School is back in session in the normally quiet town of Hawkins, Indiana. Mike, Lucas, Dustin, and Will are still grappling with the traumatic encounters with the Demogorgon and the Upside Down in season one of the hit Netflix series. As tensions rise and fractures begin to form in the group, a new kid shows up to AV club with a Betamax Camcorder and an idea. The new Spielberg-wannabe friend, Joey Kim, wants to make a horror movie about a local legend, but when he sees Will’s drawings, he discovers that his new friends are local legends.
Written by best-selling author Greg Pak (Mech Cadet Yu, The Incredible Hulk, Star Wars: Age of Rebellion) and drawn by Valeria Favoccia (Assassin Creed: Reflections, Doctor Who: The Tenth Doctor).
(POST-IT SAYS: An original story that doesn’t take place in the TV show. Not fantastic, but I love the show and am reading all the additional material. Graphic novel fans will probably enjoy this quick read about a zombie movie.)
A Gift for a Ghost by Borja Gonzalez (ISBN-13: 9781419740138 Publisher: ABRAMS Publication date: 05/05/2020, Ages 14-18)
An untalented punk band and a parallel dimension—what could go wrong?
In Borja González’s stunning graphic novel, two parallel stories reflect and intertwine in a tale of youthful dreams and desires. In 1856, Teresa, a young aristocrat, is more interested in writing avantgarde horror poetry than making a suitable marriage. In 2016, three teenage girls, Gloria, Laura, and Cristina, want to start a punk band called the Black Holes. They have everything they need: attitude, looks, instinct . . . and an alarming lack of musical talent. They’ve barely started rehearsing when strange things begin to happen. As their world and Teresa’s intersect, they’re haunted by the echo of something that happened 160 years ago.
(POST-IT SAYS: Beautiful art and a mysterious, quirky story make this quick read compelling. Quiet, sad, and creative characters provide real depth in this tale that is more told via the illustration clues than the words.)
Superman Smashes the Klan by Gene Luen Yang, Gurihiru (Illustrator) (ISBN-13: 9781779504210 Publisher: DC Comics Publication date: 05/12/2020, Ages 12 up)
The year is 1946. Teenagers Roberta and Tommy Lee just moved with their parents from Chinatown to the center of Metropolis, home to the famous hero, Superman. Tommy makes friends quickly, while Roberta pines for home. Then one night, the family awakens to find their house surrounded by the Klan of the Fiery Kross! Superman leaps into action, but his exposure to a mysterious green rock has left him weak. Can Roberta and Tommy help him smash the Klan?
Inspired by the 1940s Superman radio serial “Clan of the Fiery Cross,” New York Times bestselling author Gene Luen Yang (American Born Chinese, Boxers and Saints, The Terrifics, New Super-Man) and artist Gurihiru (Avatar: The Last Airbender, The Unstoppable Wasp) bring us a personal retelling of two different immigrants finding ways to belong.
(POST-IT SAYS: How can you pass up a book with this title? Superman tackles white supremacy, racism, and his own worries about his own identity. Definitely read the back matter, too!)
Unexpected Super Spy (Planet Omar Series #2) by Zanib Mian, Nasaya Mafaridik (Illustrator) (ISBN-13: 9780593109243 Publisher: Penguin Young Readers Group Publication date: 09/29/2020, Ages 8-12)
Omar is back with a big mystery to solve in the second installment of this imaginative, highly-illustrated middle-grade series.
When Omar hears that his family’s favorite mosque is at risk of shutting down due to lack of funds, he knows he has to do something. And with the help of his best friend Charlie and another unlikely ally, a great idea is born—a school talent contest!
Omar and his friends are super excited about their plan, that is until Omar’s sister, Maryam, decides she and her friends are going to raise money, too, and the competition is on. The boys’ talent show is a huge success but disaster strikes right at the end—all the money goes missing. Omar has no choice but to become a super spy to track down a foe much more wily than his sister.
Omar’s amazing imagination brings the second story in his adventures to life as he navigates more of life’s ups and downs. From sibling brawls to speaking to the scary principal and becoming a community activist, bold illustrations and cheeky dialogue show how Omar perseveres through serious and silly adversity.
(POST-IT SAYS: Great new series that every library needs! Fun and funny with a light mystery. Many illustrations and font styles will keep readers turning pages. Omar is British Pakistani and Muslim.)
Puppy Problems by PAIGE BRADDOCK (ISBN-13: 9780593117439 Publisher: Penguin Young Readers Group Publication date: 09/22/2020, Ages 5-8)
A goofy new puppy rocks the world of a high-strung dog and a snarky cat in this hilarious graphic novel for early readers.
Crackers is a rescue dog who’s a bit on the nervous side, but pretty comfy at home with Butter, a very plump cat who—like all cats—is all about himself. The two pets have a good life: big backyard, nice couch, good eats, and an owner who goes to work every day so they can pretty much do what they want.
Enter Peanut, a brand-new puppy with big floppy ears, unabashed energy, and no appreciation for the quiet life. The little dog is a chowhound who dips into everybody’s food bowl. He drools, he chews up stuff, he doesn’t get how stairs work, and he’s afraid of the dark. Yowl! Not to mention he’s hogging their owner’s lap. Even the squirrels in the yard are laughing at this goofy little canine.
Butter and Crackers have had it! This puppy has to go! But when the backyard gate is left open (the cat’s idea, of course!) and Peanut wanders out and gets lost, the older animals remember what it was like to be alone—and lonely. Butter and Crackers to the rescue!
Kids will laugh-out-loud at Paige Braddock’s funny, endearing art and dialogue. (She also cleverly never shows “our human,” the animals’ owner, as anything more than a pair of hands or unintelligble speech balloons.) This is a wonderful story about friendship and acceptance, with the funniest combination of pets to ever hit the page.
(POST-IT SAYS: What’s not to love?! Graphic novel! Animals! Pet adoption! A doxie! Really cute and fun. The little animals have huge personalities! I can’t wait for more installments!)
Watch Over Me by Nina LaCour (ISBN-13: 9780593108970 Publisher: Penguin Young Readers Group Publication date: 09/15/2020, Ages 14-17)
Nina LaCour delivers another emotional knockout with Watch Over Me, the much-anticipated follow-up to the Printz Award-winning We Are Okay.
★ “Gripping; an emotion-packed must-read.” –Kirkus, starred review
★ “Moving, unsettling, and full of atmospheric beauty.” –SLJ, starred review
Mila is used to being alone.
Maybe that’s why she said yes. Yes to a second chance in this remote place, among the flowers and the fog and the crash of waves far below.
But she hadn’t known about the ghosts.
Newly graduated from high school, Mila has aged out of the foster care system. So when she’s offered a teaching job and a place to live on an isolated part of the Northern California coast, she immediately accepts. Maybe she will finally find a new home—a real home. The farm is a refuge, but it’s also haunted by the past. And Mila’s own memories are starting to rise to the surface.
Nina LaCour, the Printz Award–winning author of We Are Okay, delivers another emotional knockout with Watch Over Me, a modern ghost story about trauma and survival, chosen family and rebirth.
(POST-IT SAYS: A stunning, heartbreaking look at what it means to be haunted. Readers will ache with Mila as she tries to be hopeful about her future while unable to heal from her traumatic past. Just lovely.)
The Tiny Mansion by Keir Graff (ISBN-13: 9781984813855 Publisher: Penguin Young Readers Group Publication date: 09/08/2020, Ages 8-12)
In this pitch-perfect middle grade adventure, twelve-year-old Dagmar must endure a summer living off-the-grid with her family in a tiny home.
The last thing twelve-year-old Dagmar wants is to spend her summer vacation squished into a tiny house with her dad, her stepmom, and her annoying five-year-old half brother. But after a sudden financial setback, her family is evicted from their Oakland apartment, and that’s just where they end up, parked among the towering redwoods of Northern California.
As Dagmar explores the forest around their new and (hopefully) temporary home, she discovers they are living next door to an eccentric tech billionaire and his very unusual extended family. There’s his brother, a woodsman who sets dangerous booby traps all over the place, and his sister, a New Age animal lover who meditates to whale songs in an isolation tank. And then there’s the billionaire’s son, Blake, who has everything he could ever wish for—except maybe a friend.
But when a wildfire engulfs the forest, everyone—rich and poor, kid and adult—will have to work together to escape. And with both families at risk of losing everything, it turns out it’s not the size of the home but the people you share it with that matters.
(POST-IT SAYS: Given the months of quarantine I’ve spent watching various tiny homes shows, this grabbed my interest. Unique setting/living situation, strong characters, and lots of whimsy. Good fun with a message.)
How It All Blew Up by Arvin Ahmadi (ISBN-13: 9780593202876 Publisher: Penguin Young Readers Group Publication date: 09/22/2020, Ages 14-17)
Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda goes to Italy in Arvin Ahmadi’s newest incisive look at identity and what it means to find yourself by running away.
Eighteen-year-old Amir Azadi always knew coming out to his Muslim family would be messy—he just didn’t think it would end in an airport interrogation room. But when faced with a failed relationship, bullies, and blackmail, running away to Rome is his only option. Right?
Soon, late nights with new friends and dates in the Sistine Chapel start to feel like second nature… until his old life comes knocking on his door. Now, Amir has to tell the whole truth and nothing but the truth to a US Customs officer, or risk losing his hard-won freedom.
At turns uplifting and devastating, How It All Blew Up is Arvin Ahmadi’s most powerful novel yet, a celebration of how life’s most painful moments can live alongside the riotous, life-changing joys of discovering who you are.
(POST-IT SAYS: Loved the format—traditional narrative mixed with the monologues from interrogation. An emotional read with vivid characters that tells an important story of identity, culture, acceptance, and family. A great read.)
Field of Screams by Joel Sutherland
The Nightmare Next Door by Joel Sutherland
Ghosts Never Die by Joel Sutherland
Night of the Living Dolls by Joel Sutherland
(HAUNTED SERIES Publisher: Sourcebooks Publication date: 09/01/2020, Ages 8-12)
Summary of Fields of Screams: Will they escape before it’s too late?
Darius and Ryan are excited to visit Scarecrow Farm. It’s always been a spooky good time—the perfect spot to go on Halloween.
But when they arrive, it’s nothing like they remember. The place looks run-down, and Darius can’t shake the feeling that they shouldn’t be there. When the two boys get lost in the corn maze, they start to panic—especially when they meet something terrifying hidden among the corn.
Can Darius and Ryan escape before they become the latest victims of the maze?
(POST-IT SAYS: The kids at my school love “scary” books, so I see these as popular, easy recs. Fast-paced, spooky reads that are sure to be a hit with fans of Goosebumps. Satisfying twists and creepiness. Wide appeal.)
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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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