Post-It Note Reviews: Graphic novels, scary stories, vampires, 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.
Middle School Bites: Out for Blood by Steven Banks, Mark Fearing (Illustrator) (ISBN-13: 9780823446162 Publisher: Holiday House Publication date: 08/31/2021 Series: Middle School Bites #3, Ages 8-12)
Tom the Vam-Wolf-Zom is back—and so is the werewolf that bit him—in this monstrously funny series about a boy who’s dying to fit in.
Eleven-year-old Tom was bit by a vampire, a werewolf, and a zombie right before the first day of middle school. It was a weird and crazy day. And he didn’t even get excused from sixth grade!
Now he’s being hunted down by the werewolf that bit him. Should Tom join a wolf pack? On the one hand, he could give up school and homework forever. (He really doesn’t want to do his history report.) On the other hand, he’d miss his band, his friends, and Annie, his maybe-possibly-someday girlfriend. He might even miss his big sister, Emma.
Then the vampire that bit him returns with a warning: the werewolf is dangerous. Perhaps Tom should stick with sixth grade—even if it’s mostly talent show disappointments, detention, and chicken-turkey-salami-roast beef sandwiches.
Created by an Emmy-nominated writer for SpongeBob, The Adventures of Jimmy Neutron, and CatDog,this hilarious series is illustrated with clever, cartoon-style art on every spread. Perfect for fans of Diary of a Wimpy Kid and The Last Kids on Earth.
(POST-IT SAYS: Lots of appeal here. Funny art, wacky characters, lots of humor, and fast-paced writing. Entertaining and a great pick for readers who want a longer book but still like illustrations.)
Only If You Dare: 13 Stories of Darkness and Doom by Josh Allen, Sarah J. Coleman (Illustrator) (ISBN-13: 9780823449064 Publisher: Holiday House Publication date: 08/31/2021, Ages 9-12)
Thirteen chilling short stories to keep you up at night—but only if you dare.
You never know what’s out to get you. Though you might think you’re safe from monsters and menaces, everyday objects can turn against you, too. A mysterious microwave. A threatening board game. A snowman that refuses to melt. Even your own heartbeat has its secrets. Thu-thump. Thu-thump. When you stop to listen, each beat sounds more menacing than the last.
Master storyteller Josh Allen brings thirteen nightmare scenarios to life in this page-turning collection that’s perfect for budding horror junkies. In his wondrous world, danger waits behind every doorway . . . even in the most ordinary places.
Eerie illustrations by award-winning artist Sarah Coleman accompany the stories, packaged in a stunning hardcover edition complete with glow-in-the-dark jacket. Readers will sleep with one eye
(POST-IT SAYS: You can’t go wrong with scary stories for this age group! A solid collection with varying levels of creepiness. Satisfying, suspenseful stories with a good dose of humor, too.)
The Taking of Jake Livingston by Ryan Douglass (ISBN-13: 9781984812537 Publisher: Penguin Young Readers Group Publication date: 07/13/2021, Ages 12-17)
Get Out meets Holly Jackson in this YA social thriller where survival is not a guarantee.
Sixteen-year-old Jake Livingston sees dead people everywhere. But he can’t decide what’s worse: being a medium forced to watch the dead play out their last moments on a loop or being at the mercy of racist teachers as one of the few Black students at St. Clair Prep. Both are a living nightmare he wishes he could wake up from. But things at St. Clair start looking up with the arrival of another Black student—the handsome Allister—and for the first time, romance is on the horizon for Jake.
Unfortunately, life as a medium is getting worse. Though most ghosts are harmless and Jake is always happy to help them move on to the next place, Sawyer Doon wants much more from Jake. In life, Sawyer was a troubled teen who shot and killed six kids at a local high school before taking his own life. Now he’s a powerful, vengeful ghost and he has plans for Jake. Suddenly, everything Jake knows about dead world goes out the window as Sawyer begins to haunt him. High school soon becomes a different kind of survival game—one Jake is not sure he can win.
(POST-IT SAYS: This was gooood. Black and gay Jake sees the dead all around him and eventually fights one who wants to posses him. Creepy, full of suspense, and extremely satisfying.)
Check out the great trailer for THE TAKING OF JAKE LIVINGSTON.
The Passing Playbook by Isaac Fitzsimons (ISBN-13: 9781984815408 Publisher: Penguin Young Readers Group Publication date: 06/01/2021, Ages 12-17)
Love, Simon meets Bend It Like Beckham in this feel-good contemporary romance about a trans athlete who must decide between fighting for his right to play and staying stealth.
“A sharply observant and vividly drawn debut. I loved every minute I spent in this story, and I’ve never rooted harder for a jock in my life.” – New York Times bestselling author Becky Albertalli
Fifteen-year-old Spencer Harris is a proud nerd, an awesome big brother, and a David Beckham in training. He’s also transgender. After transitioning at his old school leads to a year of isolation and bullying, Spencer gets a fresh start at Oakley, the most liberal private school in Ohio.
At Oakley, Spencer seems to have it all: more accepting classmates, a decent shot at a starting position on the boys’ soccer team, great new friends, and maybe even something more than friendship with one of his teammates. The problem is, no one at Oakley knows Spencer is trans—he’s passing.
But when a discriminatory law forces Spencer’s coach to bench him, Spencer has to make a choice: cheer his team on from the sidelines or publicly fight for his right to play, even though it would mean coming out to everyone—including the guy he’s falling for.
(POST-IT SAYS: Lots of love, support, and affirmation in this cute sports romance story. Nice team friendship/support dynamic. A great look at a trans kid standing up for his community and advocating for himself.)
Clash by Kayla Miller (ISBN-13: 9780358242192 Publisher: HMH Books Publication date: 07/20/2021 Series: A Click Graphic Novel Series, Ages 8-12)
Kayla Miller, the New York Times best-selling author-illustrator of Click, Camp, and Act, returns with the next chapter of Olive’s story, tackling new friendships, middle school conflicts, and the importance of empathy.
Olive, meet Natasha.
There’s a new kid in town! From the moment Natasha sets foot in class, it’s clear she’s one of the coolest kids in sixth grade. Everyone wants to be her friend, including Olive . . . but things might not be so easy.
Olive tries her best to befriend Nat, but it seems like the only thing they have in common is that they both want to hang out with Olive’s friends! Watching as Natasha gets closer with some of her best buds, Olive can’t help but worry that they’re starting to like Nat more than they like her . . . and who could blame them? Nat is just that cool . . . and Olive is, well, just Olive.
The New York Times best-selling author-illustrator Kayla Miller delivers a nuanced look at navigating middle school friendships and the importance of both empathy and respect.
(POST-IT SAYS: I adore this series. Lots to appreciate and relate to in this story about middle school friendship drama. The large cast of kids from diverse backgrounds and with varied interests make for a great read. Can be read as standalone.)
Run: Book One by John Lewis, Andrew Aydin, L. Fury (Illustrator), Nate Powell (Illustrator) (ISBN-13: 9781419730696 Publisher: ABRAMS Publication date: 08/03/2021, Ages 13-18)
First you march, then you run. From the #1 bestselling, award–winning team behind March comes the first book in their new, groundbreaking graphic novel series, Run: Book One
To John Lewis, the civil rights movement came to an end with the signing of the Voting Rights Act in 1965. But that was after more than five years as one of the preeminent figures of the movement, leading sit–in protests and fighting segregation on interstate busways as an original Freedom Rider. It was after becoming chairman of SNCC (the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee) and being the youngest speaker at the March on Washington. It was after helping organize the Mississippi Freedom Summer and the ensuing delegate challenge at the 1964 Democratic National Convention. And after coleading the march from Selma to Montgomery on what became known as “Bloody Sunday.” All too often, the depiction of history ends with a great victory. But John Lewis knew that victories are just the beginning. In Run: Book One, John Lewis and longtime collaborator Andrew Aydin reteam with Nate Powell—the award–winning illustrator of the March trilogy—and are joined by L. Fury—making an astonishing graphic novel debut—to tell this often overlooked chapter of civil rights history.
(POST-IT SAYS: As an impatient person, I wish the whole series would be out at once. As riveting as the March series. Covers important activism, challenges, internal dissent, changes, and truths in the civil rights era and in SNCC. Powerful.)
Roar of the Beast (Cardboard Kingdom Series #2) by Chad Sell (ISBN-13: 9780593125557 Publisher: Random House Children’s Books Publication date: 06/01/2021, Ages 9-12)
Perfect for fans of Raina Telgemeier and All’s Faire in Middle School, this sequel to the Eisner Award-nominated The Cardboard Kingdom follows the kids as they solve the mystery of a new neighborhood monster.
A mystery is afoot in the Cardboard Kingdom.
Vijay, the Beast, renounces his title after being bullied by neighborhood teenagers. No one—not his big sister Shikha or his friends—can seem to draw him back out of his shell.
That very night is when it starts. At first, no one believes Nate, who breaks his leg trying to pursue what he saw from his bedroom window. But then there’s another, and another. An unknown monster has been spotted roaming the Kingdom after dark. It’s ghastly, it’s quick, and it might even have giant tentacles. Or claws. Or wings. Okay, there might be some varied testimonies on what exactly this monster looks like.
Forget Halloween—the newly minted Monster Mashers will go to any lengths to protect the Kingdom and uncover this mystery. But how did the monster get here? What does it want? And mostly importantly, who is behind its creation?
The Cardboard Kingdom: Roar of the Beast was created, organized, and drawn by Chad Sell with writing from nine other authors: Jay Fuller, David DeMeo, Katie Schenkel, Molly Muldoon, Vid Alliger, Manuel Betancourt, Michael Cole, Cloud Jacobs, and Barbara Perez Marquez.
(POST-IT SAYS: Great sequel! This neighborhood full of creative kids works out problems and supports each other through lots of big feelings. Full of adventure, friendship, and imagination. A perfect read.)
The Lost Girls: A Vampire Revenge Story by Sonia Hartl (ISBN-13: 9781645673149 Publisher: Page Street Publishing Publication date: 09/14/2021, Ages 14-17)
Getting over Your Vampire Ex is as Easy as Killing Him and Stealing His Girlfriend
Holly Liddell has been stuck with crimped hair since 1987 when she agreed to let her boyfriend, Elton, turn her into a vampire. But when he ditches her at a gas station a few decades into their eternity together, she realizes that being young forever actually means working graveyard shifts at Taco Bell, sleeping in seedy motels, and being supernaturally compelled to follow your ex from town to town—at least until Holly meets Elton’s other exes.
It seems that Holly isn’t the only girl Elton seduced into this wretched existence. He turned Ida in 1921, then Rose in 1954, and he abandoned them both before Holly was even born. Now Rose and Ida want to kill him before he can trick another girl into eternal adolescence, and they’ll need Holly’s help to do it. And once Holly starts falling for Elton’s vulnerable new conquest, Parker, she’ll do anything to save her.
To kill Elton for good, Holly and her friends will have to dig up their pasts, rob a bank, and reconcile with the people they’ve hurt in their search for eternal love. And to win the girl, Holly will have to convince Parker that she’s more than just Elton’s crazy ex—even though she is trying to kill him.
(POST-IT SAYS: Good fun! Girls team up to kill the vamp who turned them before he can turn another girl. Lots of action, humor, and minor gore. Excellent themes of found family, feminism, and love. And revenge—lots of revenge.)
Being You: A First Conversation About Gender by Megan Madison, Jessica Ralli, Anne/Andy Passchier (Illustrator) (ISBN-13: 9780593382646 Publisher: Penguin Young Readers Group Publication date: 08/17/2021 Series: First Conversations, Ages 2-5)
Based on the research that race, gender, consent, and body positivity should be discussed with toddlers on up, this read-aloud board book series offers adults the opportunity to begin important conversations with young children in an informed, safe, and supported way.
Developed by experts in the fields of early childhood and activism against injustice, this topic-driven board book offers clear, concrete language and beautiful imagery that young children can grasp and adults can leverage for further discussion.
While young children are avid observers and questioners of their world, adults often shut down or postpone conversations on complicated topics because it’s hard to know where to begin. Research shows that talking about issues like race and gender from the age of two not only helps children understand what they see, but also increases self-awareness, self-esteem, and allows them to recognize and confront things that are unfair, like discrimination and prejudice.
This second book in the series begins the conversation on gender, with a supportive approach that considers both the child and the adult. Stunning art accompanies the simple and interactive text, and the backmatter offers additional resources and ideas for extending this discussion.
(POST-IT SAYS: Great idea and execution, but I wish this were a picture book instead of, or in addition to, a board book. Would give the info and conversations more space and reach the older end of this audience. Still, a very useful resource.)
I Survived the Galveston Hurricane, 1900 (I Survived #21) by Lauren Tarshis (ISBN-13: 9781338752533 Publisher: Scholastic, Inc. Publication date: 09/07/2021 Series: I Survived Series, Ages 7-10)
More than a century later, the Galveston Hurricane of 1900 is still America’s deadliest disaster. Lauren Tarshis’s story of one child surviving the horrible event churns with page-turning action and bold hope.
The city of Galveston, Texas, was booming. Perched on an island off the southern coast of Texas, Galveston had been founded in the 1830s. By 1900, it was Texas’s richest and most important city. Boats loaded up with American cotton and wheat steamed from Galveston to countries around the world. Arriving ships were crowded with immigrants. The streets, paved with crushed oyster shells, sparkled like they’d been sprinkled with diamonds.
True, this glittering city was prone to flooding. But just a few years before, a weather forecaster had said the idea of a hurricane striking Galveston was absurd.
So when a storm started brewing on September 8, 1900, no one believed it would be any worse than previous storms. They gathered on the beach to cheer on the wild waves. But what started as entertainment soon turned into a nightmare as those wild waves crashed into the city. By morning, hundreds of homes were destroyed. Eight thousand people were dead. The city had all but disappeared,
In this thrilling installment of Lauren Tarshis’s New York Times bestselling I Survived series, one child finds safety only to head back into the treacherous waters to make sure his neighbors are safe.
(POST-IT SAYS: Tarshis could put out a new book every week and kids still wouldn’t get tired of this series. The usual quick-paced heart of the action story readers love. My 15-year-old gave it a nostalgic look when he spied me reading it!)
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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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