Post-It Note Reviews: Desserts, Accutane, the Watts Riots, 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.
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!
A-Okay by Jarad Greene (ISBN-13: 9780063032859 Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers Publication date: 11/02/2021, Ages 10-14)
A-Okay by Jarad Greene is a vulnerable and heartfelt semi-autobiographical middle grade graphic novel about acne, identity, and finding your place.
When Jay starts eighth grade with a few pimples he doesn’t think much of it at first…except to wonder if the embarrassing acne will disappear as quickly as it arrived. But when his acne goes from bad to worse, Jay’s prescribed a powerful medication that comes with some serious side effects. Regardless, he’s convinced it’ll all be worth it if clear skin is on the horizon!
Meanwhile, school isn’t going exactly as planned. All of Jay’s friends are in different classes; he has no one to sit with at lunch; his best friend, Brace, is avoiding him; and—to top it off—Jay doesn’t understand why he doesn’t share the same feelings two of his fellow classmates, a boy named Mark and a girl named Amy, have for him.
Eighth grade can be tough, but Jay has to believe everything’s going to be a-okay…right?
(POST-IT SAYS: As the parent of a kid on Accutane, I can say this novel really captures the whole experience. Beyond dealing with acne, 8th grade Jay grapples with changing friendships, bullies, and learning more about maybe being asexual. Really good read about identity and self-image.)
Yummy: A History of Desserts (A Graphic Novel) by Victoria Grace Elliott (ISBN-13: 9780593124383 Publisher: Random House Children’s Books Publication date: 11/30/2021 Series: Yummy #1, Ages 8-12)
Cake is delicious and comics are awesome: this exciting non-fiction graphic novel for kids combines both! Explore the history of desserts through a fun adventure with facts, legends, and recipes for readers to try at home.
Have you ever wondered who first thought to freeze cream? Or when people began making sweet pastry shells to encase fruity fillings? Food sprite Peri is excited to show you the delicious history of sweets while taking you around the world and back!
The team-up that made ice cream cones!
The mistake that made brownies!
Learn about and taste the true stories behind everyone’s favorite treats, paired with fun and easy recipes to try at home. After all, sweets—and their stories—are always better when they’re shared!
(POST-IT SAYS: Can I live inside this book? Fun, detailed info about desserts from all over the world. I hope to see a lot more from Elliott—such cute, whimsical art! This book is a real treat!)
The Counterclockwise Heart by Brian Farrey (ISBN-13: 9781616205065 Publisher: Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill Publication date: 02/01/2022, Ages 8-12)
Tick . . . tick . . . tick . . .
Time is running out in the empire of Rheinvelt.
The sudden appearance of a strange and frightening statue foretells darkness. The Hierophants—magic users of the highest order—have fled the land. And the shadowy beasts of the nearby Hinterlands are gathering near the borders, preparing for an attack.
Young Prince Alphonsus is sent by his mother, the Empress Sabine, to reassure the people while she works to quell the threat of war. But Alphonsus has other problems on his mind, including a great secret: He has a clock in his chest where his heart should be—and it’s begun to run backwards, counting down to his unknown fate.
Searching for answers about the clock, Alphonsus meets Esme, a Hierophant girl who has returned to the empire in search of a sorceress known as the Nachtfrau. When riddles from their shared past threaten the future of the empire, Alphonsus and Esme must learn to trust each other and work together to save it—or see the destruction of everything they both love.
(POST-IT SAYS: Fantasy, adventure, and quests combine for the 3 characters seeking answers and looking to complete missions, finding truths and connections along the way. Richly developed setting and characters propel the dark story about power, sacrifice, and magic.)
Wow in the World: Wow in the Wild: The Amazing World of Animals
by Mindy Thomas, Jack Teagle (Illustrator), Guy Raz (ISBN-13: 9780358306894 Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers Publication date: 04/12/2022 Series: Wow in the World, Ages 8-12)
Based on their #1 kids podcast, Wow in the World, hosts Mindy Thomas and Guy Raz take readers on a hilarious, fact-filled, and highly illustrated journey through the animal kingdom!
Feathers, fins, fur, feet—the animal kingdom is made up of nearly 9 million known species! From flying fish to flightless birds, each living creature has a unique role to play in the life of planet Earth. In this book, Mindy Thomas and Guy Raz, hosts of the mega-popular kids’ podcast Wow in the World, will take you on a fact-filled adventure to explore the funniest and most fascinating animals known to humankind.
Build your own insect!
Play hide and seek, chameleon-style!
Look for six signs you might be a fish!
And much, much more!
Featuring hilarious illustrations and filled with facts, jokes, photos, and quizzes, this book is a call to the wild kids of the world. Join us as we venture onto land and into the sky and sea to discover the WOW of Earth’s creatures, both big and small.
(POST-IT SAYS: So! Much! Information! Big fact books like this are really popular at my school. Fun format, great art, and such engaging breakdowns of topics. Quizzes, a glossary, and QR codes to Wow in the World podcasts, too.)
Speak Up, Speak Out!: The Extraordinary Life of Fighting Shirley Chisholm by Tonya Bolden (ISBN-13: 9781426372360 Publisher: National Geographic Publication date: 01/04/2022, Ages 10-14)
From award-winning author Tonya Bolden comes a biography of the first Black woman elected to the U.S. House of Representatives and the first Black woman to run for president with a major political party: Shirley Chisholm.
Before there was Barack Obama, before there was Kamala Harris, there was Fighting Shirley Chisholm. A daughter of Barbadian immigrants, Chisholm developed her political chops in Brooklyn in the 1950s and went on to become the first Black woman elected to the U.S. House of Representatives. This “pepper pot,” as she was known, was not afraid to speak up for what she thought was right. While fighting for a better life for her constituents in New York’s 12th Congressional District, Chisholm routinely fought against sexism and racism in her own life and defied the norms of the time. As the first Black woman in the House and the first Black woman to seek the presidential nomination from a major political party, Shirley Chisholm laid the groundwork for those who would come after her.
Extensively researched and reviewed by experts, this inspiring biography traces Chisholm’s journey from her childhood in a small flat in Brooklyn where she read books with her sisters to Brooklyn College where she got her first taste of politics. Readers will cheer Chisholm on to victory from the campaign trail to the hallowed halls of the U.S. Capitol, where she fought for fair wages, equal rights, and an end to the Vietnam War. And while the presidential campaign trail in 1972 did not end in victory, Shirley Chisholm shows us how you can change a country when you speak up and speak out.
(POST-IT SAYS: I knew very little about Chisholm going in to this and learned so much. Detailing her life from youth on up, we see her involvement in politics and leadership grow as she became a trailblazing political powerhouse. A fast-paced, important read.)
Sloth Sleuth by Cyndi Marko (ISBN-13: 9780358448938 Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers Publication date: 06/07/2022 Series: Sloth Sleuth Series, Ages 8-11)
On an island crawling with crime, everyone’s a suspect. Luckily, its resident sloth can solve crimes in her sleep (and often does!). Meet Paz, the world’s first sloth sleuth. She may be slow . . . but she’s always one step ahead of the bad guys.
Pssst . . . hey, you!
Welcome to Winklefuss. Don’t get too comfortable—this tropical paradise is crawling with criminals. Luckily, Paz, the world’s smartest sloth detective, lives here, too! She can solve the toughest crimes in her sleep (and often does).
A mysterious illness is striking the customers of Cookie’s Diner. Could it be something they ate? (Spoiler alert: It is.)
As she investigates, Paz fills her fanny pack with clues. But who’s the culprit? Is it Mayor McSqueak, who was caught breaking into the diner? Is it Lacie Flamingo, fired after messing up orders? Is it Louie the Shark, who works for the toughest crime boss this side of the Bermuda Triangle (a fish in a bag)? Well, kid, you’ll just have to read the book to find out!
This hilarious graphic novel mystery is perfect for fans of The Bad Guys and Investigators.
(POST-IT SAYS: Cute art and fun characters, but the best things here are the substantial plot and the length of the story/amount of reading. Also, the comps of Bad Guys and InvestiGators are dead on—which means this book will fly off the shelf at my school.)
When Winter Robeson Came by Brenda Woods (ISBN-13: 9781524741587 Publisher: Penguin Young Readers Group Publication date: 01/11/2022, Ages 10-12)
The whole world seems to transform during the summer of 1965, when Eden’s cousin from Mississippi comes to visit her in L.A. just as the Watts Riots erupt, in this stirring new novel by Coretta Scott King Honor winner Brenda Woods.
When Eden’s cousin Winter comes for a visit, it turns out he’s not just there to sightsee. He wants to figure out what happened to his dad, who disappeared ten years earlier from the Watts area of L.A. So the cousins set out to investigate together, and what they discover brings them joy—and heartache. It also opens up a whole new understanding of their world, just as the area they’ve got their sights on explodes in a clash between the police and the Black residents. For six days Watts is like a war zone, and Eden and Winter become heroes in their own part of the drama. Eden hopes to be a composer someday, and the only way she can describe that summer is a song with an unexpected ending, full of changes in tempo and mood—totally unforgettable.
(POST-IT SAYS: Really great read. An emotional look at family and community. I loved going along with Eden and Winter as they worked to track down Winter’s dad. Layered historical fiction focused on an area and an event not often explored. Don’t miss this!)
Operation Sisterhood by Olugbemisola Rhuday-Perkovich (ISBN-13: 9780593379899 Publisher: Random House Children’s Books Publication date: 01/04/2022, Ages 8-12)
Fans of the Netflix reboot of The Babysitters Club will delight as four new sisters band together in the heart of New York City. Discover this jubilant novel about the difficulties of change, the loyalty of sisters, and the love of family from a prolific award-winning author.
“[A] jubilant middle grade novel.” –The New York Times
Bo and her mom always had their own rhythm. But ever since they moved to Harlem, Bo’s world has fallen out of sync. She and Mum are now living with Mum’s boyfriend Bill, his daughter Sunday, the twins, Lili and Lee, the twins’ parents…along with a dog, two cats, a bearded dragon, a turtle, and chickens. All in one brownstone! With so many people squished together, Bo isn’t so sure there is room for her.
Set against the bursting energy of a New York City summer, award-winning author Olugbemisola Rhuday-Perkovich delivers a joyful novel about a new family that hits all the right notes!
(POST-IT SAYS: I love the giant blended and chosen family here—there’s so much change and activity. Combine the unique family dynamic with freeschooling and a bunch of pets and music and lots of big personalities and you get a memorable and stellar read.)
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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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