Post-It Note Reviews: Cyberbullies, fake online personas, a Secret Garden retelling, 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? Winter is ROUGH for me. Depression plus seasonal depression plus infinite pandemic depression? Yeah, that sucks. My ability to write long, thoughtful reviews gets buried under the other tasks required to survive this yucky chunk of time. But hey! The sun is back out these days, so look for longer reviews more often again!
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!
Join the Club, Maggie Diaz by Nina Moreno, Courtney Lovett (Illustrator) (ISBN-13: 9781338740615 Publisher: Scholastic, Inc. Publication date: 05/17/2022, Ages 10-13)
This humorous and heartfelt middle-grade debut by Nina Moreno with illustrations by Courtney Lovett is perfect for fans of Celia C. Pérez and Terri Libenson, and any reader still deciding what their passion in life is.
“MAYBE I’M GOOD AT SOMETHING I DON’T EVEN KNOW ABOUT YET.”
Everyone in Maggie Diaz’s life seems to be finding their true passion. The one thing that defines them as a person. Her best friends Zoey and Julian are too busy to hang out after school thanks to band and comics club. Mom is finishing her last semester in college. And Maggie’s perfect older sister Caro is perfectly-perfect at sports and tutoring.
So Maggie cooks up a plan to join every club she can! But trying to fit in with type-A future leaders, gardening whizzes, and the fearless kids in woodshop is intimidating, exhausting, and seriously confusing. And juggling homework, friends, and all of her after-school activities is way harder than it looks.
Seventh grade is all about figuring out who you are — good thing Maggie Diaz has the perfect plan!
(POST-IT SAYS: Maggie spends 7th grade trying to figure out who she is and where she fits—no small undertaking. I loved watching her grow and work things out. Also loved her family dynamic, her friendships, and all of the great art, which adds a lot to the story.)
No Filter and Other Lies by Crystal Maldonado (ISBN-13: 9780823447183 Publisher: Holiday House Publication date: 02/08/2022, Ages 14-17)
You should know, right now, that I’m a liar.
They’re usually little lies. Tiny lies. Baby lies. Not so much lies as lie adjacent.
But they’re still lies.
Twenty one-year-old Max Monroe has it all: beauty, friends, and a glittering life filled with adventure. With tons of followers on Instagram, her picture-perfect existence seems eminently enviable.
Except it’s all fake.
Max is actually 17-year-old Kat Sanchez, a quiet and sarcastic teenager living in drab Bakersfield, California. Nothing glamorous in her existence—just sprawl, bad house parties, a crap school year, and the awkwardness of dealing with her best friend Hari’s unrequited love.
But while Kat’s life is far from perfect, she thrives as Max: doling out advice, sharing beautiful photos, networking with famous influencers, even making a real friend in a follower named Elena. The closer Elena and “Max” get—texting, Snapping, and even calling—the more Kat feels she has to keep up the façade.
But when one of Max’s posts goes ultra-viral and gets back to the very person she’s been stealing photos from, her entire world – real and fake — comes crashing down around her. She has to figure out a way to get herself out of the huge web of lies she’s created without hurting the people she loves.
But it might already be too late.
(POST-IT SAYS: Hand this one to readers who like messy characters who make mistakes and have to deal with the consequences of their actions. Solid look at identity and discovering real things while being so fake.)
Drew Leclair Gets A Clue by Katryn Bury (ISBN-13: 9780358639602 Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers Publication date: 03/01/2022, Ages 8-12)
In this modern take on Harriet the Spy, twelve-year-old Drew uses her true crime expertise to catch the cyberbully in her school—only to discover that family, friendship, and identity are the hardest mysteries to solve.
Drew Leclair knows what it takes to be a great detective. She’s pored over the cases solved by her hero, criminal profiler Lita Miyamoto. She tracked down the graffiti artist at school, and even solved the mystery of her neighbor’s missing rabbit. But when her mother runs off to Hawaii with the school guidance counselor, Drew is shocked. How did she miss all of the clues?
Drew is determined to keep her family life a secret, even from her best friend. But when a cyberbully starts posting embarrassing rumors about other students at school, it’s only a matter of time before Drew’s secret is out.
Armed with her notebooks full of observations about her classmates, Drew knows what she has to do: profile all of the bullies in her grade to find the culprit. But being a detective is more complicated when the suspects can be your friends. Will Drew crack the case if it means losing the people she cares about most?
(POST-IT SAYS: I flew through this. Drew wants to solve the mystery of cyberbullying, keep her own bullying issues from her dad, cope with her mom having run off, get her best friend Shrey to stop trying to kiss her, and figure out if she even likes boys. A lot! Bury balances it all well. I adore Drew.)
The Secret Garden on 81st Street: A Modern Graphic Retelling of The Secret Garden by Ivy Noelle Weir, Amber Padilla (Illustrator) (ISBN-13: 9780316459655 Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers Publication date: 10/19/2021 Series: Classic Graphic Remix Series #2, Ages 8-12)
The Secret Garden with a twist: in this follow-up to Meg, Jo, Beth, and Amy, this full-color graphic novel moves Mary Lennox to a New York City brownstone, where she and her very first group of friends restore an abandoned rooftop garden…and her uncle’s heart.
Mary Lennox is a loner living in Silicon Valley. With her parents always working, video game and tech become her main source of entertainment and “friends.” When her parents pass away in a tragic accident, she moves to New York City to live with her uncle who she barely knows, and to her surprise, keeps a gadget free home. Looking for comfort in this strange, new reality, Mary discovers an abandoned rooftop garden and an even bigger secret…her cousin who suffers from anxiety. With the help of her new friends, Colin and Dickon, Mary works to restore the garden to its former glory while also learning to grieve, build real friendships, and grow.
This title will be simultaneously available in paperback.
(POST-IT SAYS: As a child, I read The Secret Garden over and over. I love this retelling. It captures the spirit of the original with wonderful modern updates. Powerful look at grief and mental health (Colin has a panic disorder). The inviting art will attract readers to this great and hopeful book.)
How to Be a Difficult Bitch: Claim Your Power, Ditch the Haters, and Feel Good Doing It by Halley Bondy, Mary C. Fernandez, Sharon Lynn Pruitt Young, Zara Hanawalt (ISBN-13: 9781541586758 Publisher: Lerner Publishing Group Publication date: 04/05/2022, Ages 14+)
In the past, being a “difficult bitch” was bad. Girls weren’t supposed to call people out for their BS, stand up for themselves, or do their own thing. This book embraces the insult with irreverent humor, encouraging readers to be themselves no matter what, including an exploration of the ways this phrase can be interpreted differently among people of different backgrounds.
Being a powerhouse is a choice. It’s a lifestyle. It’s a code of ethics. It takes work, a thick skin, and perseverance. In this book, you’ll learn the ins and outs of being a Difficult Bitch, from school to friends to body to life.
(POST-IT SAYS: A beautifully designed advice book on self-empowerment. Covers relationships of all kinds, school, jobs, activism, internet interactions, and more with hypothetical situations, personal notes, and tons of tips on standing up for yourself and others.)
It’s the End of the World and I’m in My Bathing Suit by Justin A. Reynolds (ISBN-13: 9781338740226 Publisher: Scholastic, Inc. Publication date: 04/05/2022, Ages 8-12)
A hilarious new middle-grade from Justin A. Reynolds that asks: What happens when five unsupervised kids face the apocalypse under outrageously silly circumstances?
Twelve-year-old Eddie Gordon Holloway has concocted his most genius plan ever to avoid chores . . . especially the dreaded L-A-U-N-D-R-Y. If he can wears every item of clothing in his wardrobe, summer will be halfway over before he has to do laundry!
On the day of the highly anticipated Beach Bash, Eddie ends up grounded until he can get his clothes clean. While left home alone to do his laundry, the power goes out mid-cycle. With his first load of laundry soaking wet and the rest still filthy, Eddie sets out to explore the seemingly empty neighborhood in just his swim trunks and flip-flops.
As he meets up with other neighborhood kids to find out what happened, they realize that their families aren’t coming back anytime soon. And as night falls, the crew realizes they aren’t just the only people left in the neighborhood — they might be the only people left . . . anywhere.
(POST-IT SAYS: What a fun and funny book. Hand this to readers who value voice and character over plot. This book is goofy and silly and wacky and I mean those all as compliments. Good fun.)
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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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