Post-It Note Reviews: A brave little garlic, graphic novel biographies, opioid addiction, a new slayer, 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. 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. (Also? Existing in reality all the time is exhausting and frustrating, so more than ever with any free second I have, I’m cracking open a book).
All descriptions from the publishers. Transcriptions of the Post-It notes are below each description. Reading those is your best bet—carpal tunnel has made my handwriting mostly a disaster!
Secrets of Camp Whatever Vol. 1 by Chris Grine (ISBN-13: 9781620108628 Publisher: Oni Press Publication date: 03/30/2021, Ages 9-12)
Perfect for fans of Lumberjanes and Brain Camp, there’s more than mosquitos at Camp Whatever and Willow will need to face truths about herself and her family as summer camp dread goes head to head with the supernatural.
Eleven year-old Willow doesn’t want to go to her dad’s weird old summer camp any more than she wants her family to move to the weird old town where that camp is located. But her family—and fate itself—seem to have plans of their own. Soon Willow finds herself neck-deep in a confounding mystery involving stolen snacks, suspected vampires, and missing campers, all shrouded in the sinister fog that hides a generation of secrets at Camp … Whatever it’s called.
(POST-IT SAYS: I don’t know why anyone would send their kids to this camp, but I’m glad they do! Creepy humans and kind creatures give Willow (who is Deaf) and friends a summer they’ll never forget—well, unless they’re hypnotized to do just that! Good fun.)
Garlic and the Vampire by Bree Paulsen (ISBN-13: 9780062995094 Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers Publication date: 09/28/2021, Ages 8-12)
An enchanting, farm-fresh debut graphic novel starring an unusual heroine who is braver than she realizes, for middle grade readers looking for a cozy, adventuresome read in the vein of Witch Boy or Be Prepared.
Garlic feels as though she’s always doing something wrong. At least with her friend Carrot by her side and the kindly Witch Agnes encouraging her, Garlic is happy to just tend her garden, where it’s nice and safe.
But when her village of vegetable folk learns that a bloodthirsty vampire has moved into the nearby castle, they all agree that, in spite of her fear and self-doubt, Garlic is the obvious choice to confront him. And with everyone counting on her, Garlic reluctantly agrees to face the mysterious vampire, hoping she has what it takes.
After all, garlic drives away vampires…right?
(POST-IT SAYS: I’m in love with this book. Anxious little Garlic finds bravery and discovers things aren’t always as bad or scary as we build them up to be. I want to climb in this book and explore the cozy homes and beautiful gardens. A perfect book.)
Food-Related Stories by Gaby Melian, Ashley Lukashevsky (Illustrator) (ISBN-13: 9780593223499 Publisher: Penguin Young Readers Group Publication date: 01/18/2022 Series: Pocket Change Collective, Ages 12-17)
“Gaby Melian tells so many stories through her relationship with food—about love, about loss, about hard work, and about finding her passion. The pages are dripping with delicious smells and tastes, and will give you a new way to look at both cooking and what it means to have a plan.” —Molly Birnbaum, editor in chief, America’s Test Kitchen Kids
In this moving, personal account, chef and activist Gaby Melian shares her journey with food and how creating a relationship with food — however simple or complicated — is a form of activism in its own right.
Pocket Change Collective was born out of a need for space. Space to think. Space to connect. Space to be yourself. And this is your invitation to join us. This is a series of small books with big ideas from today’s leading activists and artists.
“Food rescued me so many other times — not only because I sold food to survive. I cook to entertain; I cook to be liked; I cook to be loved.” In this installment, chef and activist Gaby Melian shares her personal journey with food — from growing up in Argentina to her time as a Jersey City street vendor and later, as Bon Appetit‘s test kitchen manager. Powerful and full of heart, here, Melian explores how we can develop a relationship with food that’s healthy, sustainable, and thoughtful.
(POST-IT SAYS: I adore this series. I did want to know more about Melian’s many jobs/undertakings, but was moved by her passion for food as adventure, story, family, love, strength, and more.)
Who Sparked the Montgomery Bus Boycott?: Rosa Parks: A Who HQ Graphic Novel by Insha Fitzpatrick, Abelle Hayford (Illustrator), Hanna Schroy (Colorist), Who HQ (ISBN-13: 9780593224465 Publisher: Penguin Young Readers Group Publication date: 01/11/2022 Series: Who HQ Graphic Novels, Ages 8-12)
Discover the story behind Rosa Parks and the Montgomery Bus Boycott in this compelling graphic novel — written by Oh My Gods! author Insha Fitzpatrick and illustrated by #DrawingWhileBlack organizer Abelle Hayford.
Presenting Who HQ Graphic Novels: an exciting new addition to the #1 New York Times Best-Selling Who Was? series!
From refusing to give up her bus seat to a white passenger to sparking civil rights protests across America, explore how Rosa Parks’s powerful act earned her the title “Mother of the Civil Rights Movement.” A story of resistance, strength, and unwavering spirit, this graphic novel invites readers to immerse themselves in the life of the American Civil Rights leader — brought to life by gripping narrative and vivid full-color illustrations that jump off the page.
(POST-IT SAYS: Love that they’re now doing graphic novels! Lots of context here on civil rights, major players (including Claudette Colvin), Jim Crow laws, boycotts, the harassment Parks faced, etc. Extremely informational.)
Who Was the Voice of the People?: Cesar Chavez: A Who HQ Graphic Novel by Terry Blas, Mar Julia (Illustrator), Who HQ (ISBN-13: 9780593224496 Publisher: Penguin Young Readers Group Publication date: 01/11/2022 Series: Who HQ Graphic Novels, Ages 8-12)
Discover the story behind Cesar Chavez and the Delano Grape Strike in this moving graphic novel — written by award-winning author Terry Blas and illustrated by Ignatz-nominated cartoonist Mar Julia.
Presenting Who HQ Graphic Novels: an exciting new addition to the #1 New York Times Best-Selling Who Was? series!
Follow Cesar Chavez and the National Farm Workers Association, as they set out on a difficult 300-mile protest march in support of farm workers’ rights. A story of hope, solidarity, and perseverance, this graphic novel invites readers to immerse themselves in the life of the famous Latino American Civil Rights leader — brought to life by gripping narrative and vivid full-color illustrations that jump off the page.
(POST-IT SAYS: A solid introduction to Chavez, the farm laborer movement, the grapes strike, the National Farm Workers Association, and the long march from Delano to Sacramento. A great look at protest and activism.)
You’d Be Home Now by Kathleen Glasgow (ISBN-13: 9780525708049 Publisher: Random House Children’s Books Publication date: 09/28/2021, Ages 14-17)
From the New York Times bestselling author of Girl in Pieces comes a stunning novel that Vanity Fair calls “impossibly moving” and “suffused with light”. In this raw, deeply personal story, a teenaged girl struggles to find herself amidst the fallout of her brother’s addiction in a town ravaged by the opioid crisis.
For all of Emory’s life she’s been told who she is. In town she’s the rich one—the great-great-granddaughter of the mill’s founder. At school she’s hot Maddie Ward’s younger sister. And at home, she’s the good one, her stoner older brother Joey’s babysitter. Everything was turned on its head, though, when she and Joey were in the car accident that killed Candy MontClaire. The car accident that revealed just how bad Joey’s drug habit was.
Four months later, Emmy’s junior year is starting, Joey is home from rehab, and the entire town of Mill Haven is still reeling from the accident. Everyone’s telling Emmy who she is, but so much has changed, how can she be the same person? Or was she ever that person at all?
Mill Haven wants everyone to live one story, but Emmy’s beginning to see that people are more than they appear. Her brother, who might not be “cured,” the popular guy who lives next door, and most of all, many “ghostie” addicts who haunt the edges of the town. People spend so much time telling her who she is—it might be time to decide for herself.
A journey of one sister, one brother, one family, to finally recognize and love each other for who they are, not who they are supposed to be, You’d Be Home Now is Kathleen Glasgow’s glorious and heartbreaking story about the opioid crisis, and how it touches all of us.
(POST-IT SAYS: A powerful, sad, and deeply compassionate look at addiction. Glasgow writes amazing books and this might be her best yet. A nuanced and affecting exploration of how addiction isn’t a person’s whole story. Just gutting.)
In Every Generation by Kendare Blake (ISBN-13: 9781368075022 Publisher: Disney Press Publication date: 01/04/2022, Ages 12-18)
Return to Sunnydale in a brand-new series by New York Times best-selling author Kendare Blake, set in the world of Buffy the Vampire Slayer.
Frankie Rosenberg wasn’t yet alive when her mom, Willow, her aunt Buffy, and the original Scooby Gang destroyed the Hellmouth and saved the world from the First Evil. These days, life in New Sunnydale is blissfully quiet. Frankie is just trying to survive her sophomore year at the rebuilt high school and use her budding magical powers to make the world a better place.
But that world is suddenly plunged into danger when the slayer community is the target of a deadly attack, leaving the future of the line uncertain. Then Frankie discovers she’s sort of freakishly strong. Oh, and there’s something Willow never told her about her true identity.
Cue the opening credits.
Quicker than she can carve a stake, Frankie discovers there’s more to saving the world than witty one-liners and stupid hot demons. now everyone looks to her for answers, but speaking up has never been her strong suit. And it’s hard to be taken seriously when your mom is such a powerful witch she almost ended the world once, while your greatest magic trick is recycling.
Despite the many challenges standing in her way, Frankie must assemble her own bumbling Scooby Gang, get dressed up in Buffy’s (vintage ’90s) clothes, and become a new slayer for a new generation—before whatever came for the rest of the slayers comes for her next.
(POST-IT SAYS: At my house, we watch Buffy and Angel on an endless loop, so of course I loved this new addition to the Scoobies canon. Did I read this with a critical eye? No. Did I love being back in Sunnydale and want more? Yes. Good thing two more books are to come.)
Just Roll with It: (A Graphic Novel) by Veronica Agarwal, Lee Durfey-Lavoie (ISBN-13: 9781984896995 Publisher: Random House Children’s Books Publication date: 12/14/2021 Series: Just Roll with It #1, Ages 8-12)
Starting middle school is hard enough when you don’t know anyone; it’s even harder when you’re shy. A contemporary middle-grade graphic novel for fans of Guts and Real Friends about how dealing with anxiety and OCD can affect everyday life.
As long as Maggie rolls the right number, nothing can go wrong…right?
Maggie just wants to get through her first year of middle school. But between finding the best after-school clubs, trying to make friends, and avoiding the rumored monster on school grounds, she’s having a tough time…so she might need a little help from her twenty-sided dice. But what happens if Maggie rolls the wrong number?
A touching middle-grade graphic novel that explores the complexity of anxiety, OCD, and learning to trust yourself and the world around you.
(POST-IT SAYS: I love that this addresses getting help for mental health health issues (OCD and anxiety), that Maggie’s whole family is so great, and that we see her make new friends and join a club. Really great, complex story and fantastic art. Hope to see a lot more from this pair!)
Just Harriet by Elana K. Arnold (ISBN-13: 9780063092044 Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers Publication date: 02/01/2022, Ages 6-10)
From the award-winning author of A Boy Called Bat comes a new young middle grade series in the tradition of Ramona and Clementine, starring an unforgettable girl named Harriet.
There are a few things you should know about Harriet Wermer:
- She just finished third grade.
- She has a perfect cat named Matzo Ball.
- She doesn’t always tell the truth.
- She is very happy to be spending summer vacation away from home and her mom and dad and all the wonderful things she had been planning all year.
Okay, maybe that last one isn’t entirely the truth.
Of course, there’s nothing Harriet doesn’t like about Marble Island, the small island off the coast of California where her nanu runs a cozy little bed and breakfast. And nobody doesn’t love Moneypenny, Nanu’s old basset hound. But Harriet doesn’t like the fact that Dad made this decision without even asking her.
When Harriet arrives on Marble Island, however, she discovers that it’s full of surprises, and even a mystery. One that seems to involve her Dad, back when he was a young boy living on Marble Island. One that Harriet is absolutely going to solve. And that’s the truth.
(POST-IT SAYS: I can think of so many kids at work who will love this gentle story with a very spirited main character. If your Judy Moody or Clementine read alouds need an update, try Harriet. Good for 2nd and 3rd grades.)
Just Right Jillian by Nicole D. Collier (ISBN-13: 9780358434610 Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers Publication date: 02/01/2022, Ages 8-12)
In this heartfelt middle-grade novel from debut author Nicole D. Collier, fifth-grader Jillian must learn to speak and break free of her shell to enter her school’s academic competition and keep her promise to her grandmother.
Fifth-grader Jillian will do just about anything to blend in, including staying quiet even when she has the right answer. After she loses a classroom competition because she won’t speak up, she sets her mind on winning her school’s biggest competition. But breaking out of her shell is easier said than done, and Jillian has only a month to keep her promise to her grandmother and prove to herself that she can speak up and show everyone her true self.
A warm and relatable middle-grade debut novel about family, friendship, and finding the confidence to break free from the crowd and be who you truly are.
(POST-IT SAYS: Oh, sweet Jillian—I see you. Great story about learning to speak up, to believe in yourself, to not allow yourself to be invisible. Shy and with social anxiety, Jillian works through her fears and makes her own path. Authentic and a real delight.)
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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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