Post-It Note Reviews: Cooking shows, selkies, cool bodies, therapy dogs, and more!
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.
Frequent blog readers may have noticed I’m doing a lot more post-it-style reviews and less longer, individual review posts. Partially this is because my way of coping with the many upsetting pieces of the past year has been to drown myself in reading, so I’m burning through so many more books and want to share them, in some form, here. It’s been so hard for authors to be able to promote their books, through things like release parties or festivals or other events, and I want to share as many books as I can particularly these days to help them get the exposure they deserve.
All descriptions from the publishers. Transcriptions of the Post-It notes are below each description.
The Way She Feels: My Life on the Borderline in Pictures and Pieces by Courtney Cook (ISBN-13: 9781951142605 Publisher: Tin House Books Publication date: 06/29/2021, Ages 17+)
A witty and one-of-a-kind debut graphic memoir detailing and drawing the life of a girl with borderline personality disorder finding her way—and herself—one day at a time.What does it feel like to fall in love too hard and too fast, to hate yourself in equal and opposite measure? To live in such fear of rejection that you drive friends and lovers away? Welcome to my world. I’m Courtney, and I have borderline personality disorder (BPD), along with over four million other people in the United States. Though I’ve shown every classic symptom of the disorder since childhood, I wasn’t properly diagnosed until nearly a decade later, because the prevailing theory is that most people simply “grow out of it.” Not me.
In my illustrated memoir, The Way She Feels: My Life on the Borderline in Pictures and Pieces, I share what it’s been like to live and love with this disorder. Not just the hospitalizations, treatments, and residential therapy, but the moments I found comfort in cereal, the color pink, or mini corndogs; the days I couldn’t style my hair because I thought the blow-dryer was going to hurt me; the peace I found when someone I love held me. This is a book about vulnerability, honesty, acceptance, and how to speak openly—not only with doctors, co-patients, friends, family, or partners, but also with ourselves.
(POST-IT SAYS: A brutally honest at living with mental illness. Very relatable (and reassuring) for those of us who’ve been/are there. Full of heartache and hope. Lots of illustrations and great zine-like feel.)
Pizazz by Sophy Henn (ISBN-13: 9781534492424 Publisher: Aladdin Publication date: 06/01/2021 Series: Pizazz #1, Ages 8-10)
Discover the annoying side of being a superhero from snarky, reluctant hero Pizazz in this hilarious and highly illustrated new series for young middle graders—perfect for fans of Dog Man and Diary of a Wimpy Kid.
Most people think superhero work is awesome and fulfilling. Pizazz knows better. Whenever she’s in the middle of a movie or having fun with her friends, she has to dash off the save the world. And she’s always in the same outfit, including an embarrassing glittery cape, and the wedgies are unreal. Plus, being the good guy all the time is so not easy. Superheroes have bad days like everybody else, but Pizazz always has to be cheerful and noble and brave. More than anything, she just wants to be normal.
(POST-IT SAYS: Tons of big illustrations, panels of comics, and a variety of fonts will draw in readers who love this format. Full of humor and attitude. Give it to your Dork Diaries fans.)
Rez Dogs by Joseph Bruchac (ISBN-13: 9780593326213 Publisher: Penguin Young Readers Group Publication date: 06/08/2021, Ages 8-12)
From the U.S.’s foremost indigenous children’s author comes a middle grade verse novel set during the COVID-19 pandemic, about a Wabanaki girl’s quarantine on her grandparents’ reservation and the local dog that becomes her best friend
Malian loves spending time with her grandparents at their home on a Wabanaki reservation. She’s there for a visit when, suddenly, all travel shuts down. There’s a new virus making people sick, and Malian will have to stay with her grandparents for the duration.
Everyone is worried about the pandemic, but Malian knows how to keep her family and community safe: She protects her grandparents, and they protect her. She doesn’t go outside to play with friends, she helps her grandparents use video chat, and she listens to and learns from their stories. And when Malsum, one of the dogs living on the rez, shows up at their door, Malian’s family knows that he’ll protect them too.
Told in verse inspired by oral storytelling, this novel about the COVID-19 pandemic highlights the ways Malian’s community has cared for one another through plagues of the past, and how they keep caring for one another today.
(POST-IT SAYS: Really lovely. Malian’s pandemic lockdown brings stronger connections to family, culture, and community. Her grandparents share moving stories about family and history, which Malian shares with her classmates. A beautiful book.)
Luna Howls at the Moon by Kristin O’Donnell Tubb (ISBN-13: 9780063018624 Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers Publication date: 06/15/2021, Ages 8-12)
The award-winning author of A Dog Like Daisy returns with a moving middle grade novel from the point of view of Luna, a Labrador therapy dog who accompanies her group therapy kids when they set off on an adventure across Austin, Texas.
Luna has always wanted to be a therapy dog at Therapy Dogs Worldwide. Now she’s a whisker away from reaching her fifty-visit pin that will make it official. But when her “clients”—the children who visit her—are put into a therapy group, Luna’s routine is upended.
Like the moon, Luna shows different faces at different times. And her clients each have different needs—Beatrice is tangled in knots of anger, Caleb rushes like a waterfall, Amelia carries fear heavy like a shadow, and Hector is quiet as a rock. To comfort the kids, Luna can be what they need her to be, but can she be everything to them all at once?
When Hector doesn’t show up to a session one day, the kids set off on an unexpected quest to find him. Luna joins to keep them safe, and they must work together to almost learn the truth.
(POST-IT SAYS: I’m a hard sell for novels narrated by animals, but sweet therapy dog Luna does a great job capturing the importance of her job and the many reasons children need her help. Will jumpstart conversations about feelings, therapy, and mental health.)
Bodies Are Cool by Tyler Feder (ISBN-13: 9780593112625 Publisher: Penguin Young Readers Group Publication date: 06/01/2021, Ages 3-5)
This cheerful love-your-body picture book for preschoolers is an exuberant read-aloud with bright and friendly illustrations to pore over.
From the acclaimed creator of Dancing at the Pity Party and Roaring Softly, this picture book is a pure celebration of all the different human bodies that exist in the world. Highlighting the various skin tones, body shapes, and hair types is just the beginning in this truly inclusive book. With its joyful illustrations and encouraging refrain, it will instill body acceptance and confidence in the youngest of readers. “My body, your body, every different kind of body! All of them are good bodies! BODIES ARE COOL!”
(POST-IT SAYS: I absolutely loved this book. Great representation of so many different kinds of bodies and features on bodies. Inclusive, joyful, and important. Just wonderful.)
Skate for Your Life by Leo Baker, Ashley Lukashevsky (Illustrator) (ISBN-13: 9780593223475 Publisher: Penguin Young Readers Group Publication date: 06/01/2021 Series: Pocket Change Collective, Ages 12-7)
In this moving, personal story, professional skateboarder Leo Baker shares their journey within the sport and the importance of authenticity and allyship as a non-binary athlete.
Pocket Change Collective is a series of small books with big ideas from today’s leading activists and artists.
“Your authenticity is your superpower.” That’s the motto that professional skateboarder Leo Baker lives by and champions. But like any hero’s journey, learning about their power didn’t come easy. In this installment of the Pocket Change Collective, Baker takes the reader on a complicated, powerful journey through the world of skate and competitive sport as a non-binary athlete.
(POST-IT SAYS: A look at gender, identity, and expectation told through the lens of skateboarding. A moving story of self-discovery, determination, and joy. Great message about being yourself.)
Continuum by Chella Man, Ashley Lukashevsky (Illustrator) (ISBN-13: 9780593223482 Publisher: Penguin Young Readers Group Publication date: 06/01/2021 Series: Pocket Change Collective, Ages 12-17)
In Continuum, fine artist, activist, and Titans actor Chella Man uses his own experiences as a deaf, transgender, genderqueer, Jewish person of color to talk about cultivating self-acceptance and acting as one’s own representation.
Pocket Change Collective is a series of small books with big ideas from today’s leading activists and artists.
“What constructs in your life must you unlearn to support inclusivity and respect for all?” This is a question that artist, actor, and activist Chella Man wrestles with in this powerful and honest essay. A story of coping and resilience, Chella journeys through his experiences as a deaf, transgender, genderqueer, Jewish person of color, and shows us that identity lies on a continuum — a beautiful, messy, and ever-evolving road of exploration.
(POST-IT SAYS: This series is so awesome! An exploration of the continuum and intersection of Man’s identities that will especially resonate with those who share some of them. Personal, vulnerable, and affirming.)
Stolen Science by Ella Schwartz, Gaby D’Alessandro (Illustrator) (ISBN-13: 9781547602285 Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Publication date: 08/31/2021, Ages 10-13)
Over the centuries, women, people from underrepresented communities, and immigrants overcame prejudices and social obstacles to make remarkable discoveries in science-but they weren’t the ones to receive credit in history books. People with more power, money, and prestige were remembered as the inventor of the telephone, the scientists who decoded the structure of DNA, and the doctor who discovered the cause of yellow fever. This book aims to set the record straight and celebrate the nearly forgotten inventors and scientists who shaped our world today.
(POST-IT SAYS: I had only heard of two people in this book, so I learned a lot! Helps correct some of the lies and omissions of history. Reveals important work by scientists and inventors that many will not know about.)
Simon B. Rhymin’ by Dwayne Reed (ISBN-13: 9780316538978 Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers Publication date: 03/02/2021, Ages 8-12)
A humorous and heartwarming bounce-to-the-beat underdog story about a young rapper whose rhymes help bring his community together, from America’s favorite rapping teacher.
As featured on Good Morning America!
Eleven-year-old Simon Barnes dreams of becoming a world-famous rapper that everyone calls Notorious D.O.G. But for now, he’s just a Chicago fifth grader who’s small for his age and afraid to use his voice.
Simon prefers to lay low at school and at home, even though he’s constantly spitting rhymes in his head. But when his new teacher assigns the class an oral presentation on something that affects their community, Simon must face his fears.
With some help from an unexpected ally and his neighborhood crew, will Simon gain the confidence to rap his way to an A and prove that one kid can make a difference in his ‘hood?
Dwayne Reed is a Chicago teacher, whose viral back-to-school music video “Welcome to the 4th Grade” took the internet by storm. His debut novel, Simon B. Rhymin’ , inspires young readers everywhere to use their voice to create change within their communities.
(POST-IT SAYS: Rap, activism, awareness, community, friendship, bullying… a lot going on in this book full of heart, joy, and love. A lively read about a kid who will immediately win over readers.)
Athena: Goddess of Wisdom and War by Imogen Greenberg, Isabel Greenberg (Illustrator) (ISBN-13: 9781419748592 Publisher: Amulet Books Publication date: 06/22/2021 Series: Tales of Great Goddesses, Ages 8-12)
A spunky, feminist take on the myth of Athena, the Greek goddess of wisdom, war, and courage
From the moment she sprung from Zeus’s head, Athena was extraordinary. Even though some doubted her as a young goddess, Athena never backed down from a fight. Poseidon wants to be the patron god of a nearby city? Well, so does Athena! And she’s going to outwit him and found Athens. Perseus doesn’t know how to defeat Medusa? No problem! Athena can give him the knowledge (and shield) he needs to take off her head. Odysseus is lost at sea, seemingly doomed? Not anymore! Athena can get him home. Follow the goddess of wisdom through her adventures with gods and mortals, discover the perils of crossing her, and see how she eventually learned to better understand and aid the human race.
(POST-IT SAYS: Both art and storytelling in this are engaging. I wish the long blocks of teeny text were presented in a more appealing way. Fans of comics will be drawn to this age-appropriate look at Athena.)
Sunny Song Will Never Be Famous by Suzanne Park (ISBN-13: 9781728209425 Publisher: Sourcebooks Publication date: 06/01/2021, Ages 14-18)
A social media influencer is shipped off to a digital detox summer camp in this funny coming-of-age story, perfect for fans of Jenny Han’s The Summer I Turned Pretty and Love and Gelato.
Sunny Song’s Big Summer Goals:
1) Make Rafael Kim my boyfriend (finally!)
2) Hit 100K followers (almost there…)
3) Have the best last summer of high school ever
Not on Sunny’s list: accidentally filming a PG-13 cooking video that goes viral (#browniegate). Extremely not on her list: being shipped off to a digital detox farm camp in Iowa (IOWA??) for a whole month. She’s traded in her WiFi connection for a butter churn, and if she wants any shot at growing her social media platform this summer, she’ll need to find a way back online.
But between some unexpected friendships and an alarmingly cute farm boy, Sunny might be surprised by the connections she makes when she’s forced to disconnect.
(POST-IT SAYS: A lot can happen when you stop living for likes and views and start to just live. Funny, sweet, and so well-written. A fun look at influencer culture.)
Dozens of Dachshunds: A Counting, Woofing, Wagging Book by Stephanie Calmenson, Zoe Persico (Illustrator) (ISBN-13: 9781547602223 Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Publication date: 06/29/2021, Ages 3-6)
An exuberant counting story featuring delightful dachshunds in creative costumes, inspired by the real, and hilarious, dachshund parades, for fans of Can I Be Your Dog?.
Dozens of dachshunds in clever costumes are the stars of a woofing, wagging costume parade! How many dogs can you count? Dressed up as birds, bees, books, dinosaurs, and other delightful surprises, each new pair,
trio, and group adds to the excitement. When the parade is through, there’s a joyous jamboree, complete with a sing-along, bark-along dachshund song.
Additional back matter highlights all the different sizes, coats, colors, and patterns of this beloved breed.
(POST-IT SAYS: No surprise that I adored this! Great diversity of doxies and people in this charming little book full of great art. Completely delightful.)
The Girl from the Sea by Molly Knox Ostertag (ISBN-13: 9781338540574 Publisher: Scholastic, Inc. Publication date: 06/01/2021, Ages 12+)
From the author of The Witch Boy trilogy comes a graphic novel about family, romance, and first love.
Fifteen-year-old Morgan has a secret: She can’t wait to escape the perfect little island where she lives. She’s desperate to finish high school and escape her sad divorced mom, her volatile little brother, and worst of all, her great group of friends…who don’t understand Morgan at all. Because really, Morgan’s biggest secret is that she has a lot of secrets, including the one about wanting to kiss another girl.
Then one night, Morgan is saved from drowning by a mysterious girl named Keltie. The two become friends and suddenly life on the island doesn’t seem so stifling anymore.
But Keltie has some secrets of her own. And as the girls start to fall in love, everything they’re each trying to hide will find its way to the surface…whether Morgan is ready or not.
(POST-IT SAYS: Sweet, closeted Morgan learns that sometimes plans change and you have to allow life to get messy when she falls in love with a selkie. Lots to say about identity, acceptance, and shape-shifting.)
Being Clem by Lesa Cline-Ransome (ISBN-13: 9780823446049 Publisher: Holiday House Publication date: 08/03/2021 Series: The Finding Langston Trilogy #3, Ages 8-12)
The final novel in the award-winning Finding Langston trilogy from Coretta Scott King Author Honoree and Scott O’Dell Award medalist Lesa Cline-Ransome.
Clem can make anybody, even his grumpy older sisters, smile with his jokes. But when his family receives news that his father has died in the infamous Port Chicago disaster, everything begins to fall apart. Clem’s mother is forced to work long, tough hours as a maid for a wealthy white family. Soon Clem can barely recognize his home—and himself. Can he live up to his father’s legacy?
In her award-winning trilogy, Lesa Cline-Ransome masterfully recreates mid-twentieth century America through the eyes of three boys: Langston, Lymon, and, now, Clem. Exploring the impact of the Great Migration, the Harlem Renaissance, Jim Crow laws, and much more, Lesa’s work manages at once to be both an intimate portrait of each boy and his family as well as a landscape of American history.
(POST-IT SAYS: So glad to get to know another character in this trilogy. The stories of Lymon, Langston, and now Clem are rich in historical detail and deep feelings. Satisfyingly wraps up the stories of all 3 boys.)
The Last Super Chef by Chris Negron (ISBN-13: 9780062943132 Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers Publication date: 07/06/2021, Ages 8-12)
Family and food take center stage in this heartfelt middle grade story perfect for fans of John David Anderson and Antony John.
For as long as he can remember, Curtis Pith has been obsessed with becoming a chef like Lucas Taylor, host of Super Chef. And Curtis has a secret: Taylor is actually his long-absent father.
So when Taylor announces a kids-only season of Super Chef, Curtis finally sees his chance to meet his dad. But after Curtis wins a spot in the competition and arrives in New York to film the show, nothing goes as smoothly as he expected.
It’s all riding on the last challenge. If Curtis cooks his heart out like he knows he can, he just might go home with the top prize—and the truth.
(POST-IT SAYS: Though a little too long, this was a fun read, especially if you like cooking/baking shows, about competition, family, and teamwork. The unique setting and premise will attract readers!)
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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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