Post-It Note Reviews: Retellings, werewolves, the pandemic, art camp, 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, as the school year winds down, I sometimes find I’ve taken on too many tasks to do and quite honestly don’t have the bandwidth to write longer reviews. I’m looking forward to summer, which will bring more free time, and being able to write longer, more thoughtful reviews.
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!
Anne of West Philly: A Modern Graphic Retelling of Anne of Green Gables by Ivy Noelle Weir, Myisha Haynes (Illustrator) (ISBN-13: 9780316459778 Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers Publication date: 03/01/2022 Series: Classic Graphic Remix, Ages 8-12)
Anne of Green Gables with a twist: in this follow-up to Meg, Jo, Beth, and Amy and The Secret Garden on 81st Street, this full-color graphic novel moves Anne Shirley to modern-day West Philadelphia, where where she finds new friends, new rivals, and a new family.
When Marilla and Matthew Cuthbert decide to foster a teenage girl for the first time, their lives are changed forever. Their redheaded foster daughter, Anne Shirley, is in search of an exciting life and has decided that West Philly is where she’s going to find it. Armed with a big personality and unstoppable creativity, Anne takes her new home by storm as she joins the robotics club, makes new friends in Diana and Gilbert, experiences first love, and turns the ordinary into the extraordinary. But as Anne starts to get comfortable, she discovers one thing she wasn’t looking for: a family.
(POST-IT SAYS: Yet another classic I read endlessly! These remixes are so fun. Anne remains as spirited as ever and I suspect this may introduce kids to a character/series unfamiliar to them. Great for new readers and fans of the original.)
Truly Tyler by Terri Libenson (ISBN-13: 9780062894571 Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers Publication date: 05/04/2021 Series: Emmie & Friends Series, Ages 8-12)
A story about being your truest self—and trusting your truest friends—from bestselling author Terri Libenson. Perfect for fans of Raina Telgemeier and Shannon Hale.
Cliques. Crushes. Comics. Middle school.
Ever since Tyler started getting into art and hanging out with Emmie, his friends and teammates have been giving him a hard time. He wonders why can’t he nerd out on drawing and play ball?
Emmie is psyched that she gets to work on a comics project with her crush, Tyler. But she gets the feeling that his friends don’t think she’s cool enough. Maybe it’s time for a total reinvention. . . .
Don’t miss the rest of the Emmie & Friends series: Invisible Emmie, Positively Izzy, Just Jaime, Becoming Brianna, and You-Niquely You: An Emmie & Friends Interactive Journal!
(POST-IT SAYS: Great addition to the series. Tyler wants to explore his interests beyond basketball and make friends beyond his group—things that can be surprisingly hard to pull off in middle school. A good look at what it means to be yourself.)
The Case of Windy Lake (The Mighty Muskrats Series #1) by Michael Hutchinson (ISBN-13: 9781772600858 Publisher: Second Story Press Publication date: 03/18/2019, Ages 9-12)
Sam, Otter, Atim, and Chickadee are four inseparable cousins growing up on the Windy Lake First Nation. Nicknamed the Mighty Muskrats for their habit of laughing, fighting, and exploring together, the cousins find that each new adventure adds to their reputation. When a visiting archeologist goes missing, the cousins decide to solve the mystery of his disappearance. In the midst of community conflict, family concerns, and environmental protests, the four get busy following every lead. From their base of operations in a fort made out of an old school bus, the Mighty Muskrats won’t let anything stop them from solving their case!
(POST-IT SAYS: Really great mystery series. Contemporary reservation life with smart, caring characters who are curious, observant, and totally capable of solving mysteries. Will appeal to those who like nature adventure stories.)
Artie and the Wolf Moon by Olivia Stephens (ISBN-13: 9781541542488 Publisher: Lerner Publishing Group Publication date: 09/07/2021, Ages 10-12)
After sneaking out against her mother’s wishes, Artie Irvin spots a massive wolf—then watches it don a bathrobe and transform into her mom. Thrilled to discover she comes from a line of werewolves, Artie asks her mom to share everything—including the story of Artie’s late father. Her mom reluctantly agrees. And to help Artie figure out her own wolflike abilities, her mom recruits some old family friends.
Artie thrives in her new community and even develops a crush on her new friend Maya. But as she learns the history of werewolves and her own parents’ past, she’ll find that wolves aren’t the scariest thing in the woods—vampires are.
(POST-IT SAYS: A graphic novel with all Black primary and secondary characters? Yes, please! Plot revolves around power, community, bullies, secrets, family, and danger. The art is excellent and captures both the fun and the lurking ominous feeling really well.)
Say It Out Loud by Allison Varnes (ISBN-13: 9781524771515 Publisher: Random House Children’s Books Publication date: 08/24/2021, Ages 8-12)
An empowering look at finding your voice, facing your fears, and standing up for what’s right, from the author of Property of the Rebel Librarian.
Charlotte Andrews is perfectly fine being quiet—in fact, she prefers it. When she doesn’t speak, people can’t make fun of her stutter. But when she witnesses bullying on the school bus and doesn’t say anything, her silence comes between her and her best friend.
As if that wasn’t bad enough, her parents signed her up for musical theater. Charlotte doesn’t want to speak onstage, but at least she doesn’t stutter when she sings. Then, just as she starts to find her voice, the arts program is cut. Charlotte can’t stay silent anymore.
So she begins to write. Anonymous encouraging notes to her classmates. Letters to the school board to save the school musical. And an essay about the end of her best friendship—and her hope that she can still save it.
Words could save Charlotte Andrews and everything she believes in . . . if she just believes in herself enough to speak up.
(POST-IT SAYS: Would be a good read aloud pick. Captures how sometimes friendships implode from one wrong choice. Good messages about kindness, support, speaking up, empathy, and finding your voice in a variety of ways. Full of heart.)
Required Reading for the Disenfranchised Freshman by Kristen R. Lee (ISBN-13: 9780593309155 Publisher: Random House Children’s Books Publication date: 02/01/2022, Ages 14-19)
A striking debut novel about racism on elite college campuses. Fans of Dear White People will embrace this activist-centered contemporary novel about a college freshman grappling with the challenges of attending an elite university with a disturbing racist history, which may not be as distant as it seems.
Savannah Howard sacrificed her high school social life to make sure she got into a top college. Her sights were set on an HBCU, but when she is accepted to the ivy-covered walls of Wooddale University on a full ride, how can she say no?
Wooddale is far from the perfectly manicured community it sells on its brochures, though. Savannah has barely unpacked before she comes face to face with microagressions stemming from racism and elitism. Then Clive Wilmington’s statue is vandalized with blackface. The prime suspect? Lucas Cunningham, Wooddale’s most popular student and son of a local prominent family. Soon Savannah is unearthing secrets of Wooddale’s racist history. But what’s the price for standing up for what is right? And will telling the truth about Wooddale’s past cost Savannah her own future?
A stunning, challenging, and timely debut about racism and privilege on college campuses.
(POST-IT SAYS: “We get so little, but have the most to lose” (176) sums up Savannah’s story here. Super engaging look at white privilege, racism, identity, activism, and more. Excellent addition to the field of upper YA set at college. Fast-paced, emotional, and powerful.)
Louisa June and the Nazis in the Waves by L. M. Elliott (ISBN-13: 9780063056565 Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers Publication date: 03/22/2022, Ages 8-12)
In this moving and timeless story, award-winning author L. M. Elliott captures life on the U.S. homefront during World War II, weaving a rich portrait of a family reeling from loss and the chilling yet hopeful voyage of fighting for what matters, perfect for fans of The War That Saved My Life.
Days after Japan’s attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941, Hitler declared war on the U.S., unleashing U-boat submarines to attack American ships. Suddenly, the waves outside Louisa June’s farm aren’t for eel-fishing or marveling at wild swans or learning to skull her family’s boat—they’re dangerous, swarming with hidden enemies.
Her oldest brothers’ ships risk coming face-to-face with U-boats. Her sister leaves home to weld Liberty Boat hulls. And then her daddy, a tugboat captain, and her dearest brother, Butler, are caught in the crossfire.
Her mama has always swum in a sea of melancholy, but now she really needs Louisa June to find moments of beauty or inspiration to buoy her. Like sunshine-yellow daffodils, good books, or news accounts of daring rescues of torpedoed passengers.
Determined to help her Mama and aching to combat Nazis herself, Louisa June turns to her quirky friend Emmett and the indomitable Cousin Belle, who has her own war stories—and a herd of cats—to share. In the end, after a perilous sail, Louisa June learns the greatest lifeline is love.
(POST-IT SAYS: Wow, am I glad I read this. Louisa June is brave and tenacious as she deals with the loss of her brother, her parents’ grief and guilt, and WW II’s efforts at home. Lots of tension in this completely engrossing story. Also, I want a Cousin Belle in my life.)
Nothing Burns As Bright As You by Ashley Woodfolk (ISBN-13: 9780358655350 Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers Publication date: 04/05/2022, Ages 14-18)
From acclaimed author Ashley Woodfolk, Nothing Burns as Bright as You is an impassioned story about queer love, grief, and the complexity of female friendship that will keep your heart racing, and breaking, until the very last page.
Two girls. One wild and reckless day. Years of tumultuous history unspooling like a thin, fraying string in the hours after they set a fire.
They were best friends. Until they became more. Their affections grew. Until the blurry lines became dangerous.
Over the course of a single day, the depth of their past, the confusion of their present, and the unpredictability of their future is revealed. And the girls will learn that hearts, like flames, aren’t so easily tamed.
It starts with a fire.
How will it end?
(POST-IT SAYS: A nameless narrator takes readers back 867 days before a fire, recounting the complicated and all-consuming relationship, full of love and volatility, of two Black girls. Non-linear timelines, truth, and lies jumble together in this affecting look at queer love, toxic relationships, and wanting more.)
New from Here by Kelly Yang (ISBN-13: 9781534488304 Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books For Young Readers Publication date: 03/01/2022, Ages 8-12)
From the New York Times bestselling author of Front Desk comes a poignant middle grade novel about courage, hope, and resilience as an Asian American boy fights to keep his family together and stand up to racism during the initial outbreak of the coronavirus.
When the coronavirus hits Hong Kong, ten-year-old Knox Wei-Evans’s mom makes the last-minute decision to move him and his siblings back to California, where they think they will be safe. Suddenly, Knox has two days to prepare for an international move—and for leaving his dad, who has to stay for work.
At his new school in California, Knox struggles with being the new kid. His classmates think that because he’s from Asia, he must have brought over the virus. At home, Mom just got fired and is panicking over the loss of health insurance, and Dad doesn’t even know when he’ll see them again, since the flights have been cancelled. And everyone struggles with Knox’s blurting-things-out problem.
As racism skyrockets during COVID-19, Knox tries to stand up to hate, while finding his place in his new country. Can you belong if you’re feared; can you protect if you’re new? And how do you keep a family together when you’re oceans apart? Sometimes when the world is spinning out of control, the best way to get through it is to embrace our own lovable uniqueness.
(POST-IT SAYS: Yang is an excellent author with a good fan base, but the real appeal of this book is how deeply kids will relate to this book. They’ve all lived—and are living—pieces of this story. Great characters and a story full of heart and hope.)
Sunny G’s Series of Rash Decisions by Navdeep Singh Dhillon (ISBN-13: 9780593109977 Publisher: Penguin Young Readers Group Publication date: 02/08/2022, Ages 12-17)
For fans of Sandhya Menon and Adam Silvera comes a prom-night romantic-comedy romp about a Sikh teen’s search for love and identity.
Sunny G’s brother left him one thing when he died: His notebook, which Sunny is determined to fill up with a series of rash decisions. Decision number one was a big one: He stopped wearing his turban, cut off his hair, and shaved his beard. He doesn’t look like a Sikh anymore. He doesn’t look like himself anymore. Even his cosplay doesn’t look right without his beard.
Sunny debuts his new look at prom, which he’s stuck going to alone. He’s skipping the big fandom party—the one where he’d normally be in full cosplay, up on stage playing bass with his band and his best friend, Ngozi—in favor of the Very Important Prom Experience. An experience that’s starting to look like a bust.
Enter Mindii Vang, a girl with a penchant for making rash decisions of her own, starting with stealing Sunny’s notebook. When Sunny chases after her, prom turns into an all-night adventure—a night full of rash, wonderful, romantic, stupid, life-changing decisions.
(POST-IT SAYS: Equal parts hilarious and poignant. I love books set in one night like this. Sunny uncovers a lot of emotions—including his deep grief—and reveals a lot of connections that show he has more support than he thinks. An excellent read.)
Crushing by Sophie Burrows (ISBN-13: 9781643752396 Publisher: Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill Publication date: 01/11/2022, Ages 16+)
Life is full of connections – if you know how to make them. Crushing follows two people — one determined and a bit awkward, the other unsure where to begin — longing to find out where they belong. Their intersecting and overlapping journeys reveal hidden connections and the unpredictable and unexpected ways we may find each other.
Achingly beautiful, quietly defiant, and full of subtle wit and wisdom, Crushing is a story told in silence; a story without words but bursting with life and color.
This stunning debut graphic novel from Sophie Burrows is a timely look at life in an age of distance and a story of love and understanding — a perfect book to read and to share.
(POST-IT SAYS: An amazingly conveyed story of loneliness in a book with almost no words. The silent pages drive home the feeling and the art does a great job of carrying the story. A beautiful book that ends on a hopeful note.)
Hilde on the Record: Memoir of a Kid Crime Reporter by Hilde Kate Lysiak (ISBN-13: 9781641605816 Publisher: Chicago Review Press, Incorporated Publication date: 04/19/2022, Ages 10-14)
When seven-year-old Hilde Lysiak found out her new town didn’t have a paper, she grabbed a notepad and began to work.
Hilde Kate Lysiak spent her early childhood in New York City with a passion for journalism. When her family moved to Selinsgrove, Pennsylvania, Hilde didn’t complain. Instead, she started reporting.
Hilde began by reporting on the birth of her sister, the newest resident on Orange Street, then began expanding her coverage to the entire city. She interviewed hundreds of locals in her effort to deliver “All the News Fit for Orange Street”: a seed exchange at the local library, a fundraiser for a hospital’s neonatal unit, a fire at a church, and a mysterious vandal destroying landscaping on city property.
Everything changed when Hilde received a tip that a terrible crime had happened just blocks from her house. By using the tools she had learned on the beat, the enterprising young reporter was able to confirm the facts and get the important information out to the public several hours before the other local media.
Hilde was proud of her work, but not everyone in her small town felt that way. Cyberbullies targeted her, zeroing in on her age and gender. Hilde considered ignoring them but decided she had to stand up to the haters to protect the reputation she had worked so hard to earn. Her response went viral, and nearly every major news organization took notice.
Hilde hasn’t let anything stand in her way since.
(POST-IT SAYS: Pretty fascinating memoir. As a kid reporter, Hilde was bold and determined, but equally as interesting was learning about her personal issues with schooling, disordered eating, and dealing with typical adolescent issues.)
Slip by Marika McCoola, Aatmaja Pandya (Illustrator) (ISBN-13: 9781616207892 Publisher: Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill Publication date: 06/07/2022, Ages 14-18)
From Eisner-Award nominated writer Marika McCoola and debut artist Aatmaja Pandya, an emotional coming-of-age graphic novel for fans of Bloom and Laura Dean Keeps Breaking Up with Me.
Right before Jade is about to leave for a summer art intensive, her best friend, Phoebe, attempts suicide. How is Jade supposed to focus on herself right now?
But at the Art Farm, Jade has artistic opportunities she’s been waiting for her whole life. And as she gets to know her classmates, she begins to fall for whimsical, upbeat, comfortable-in-her-own-skin Mary. Jade pours herself into making ceramic monsters that vent her stress and insecurities, but when she puts her creatures in the kiln, something unreal happens: they come to life. And they’re taking a stand: if Jade won’t confront her problems, her problems are going to confront her, including the scariest of them all—if Jade grows, prospers, and even falls in love this summer, is she leaving Phoebe behind?
(POST-IT SAYS: Given that this is set at an art camp, I really wish it had been in full color! Captures the complexities of life—fun and joyful things can happen even when you’re sad and worried—but the brevity doesn’t allow for a deeper exploration.)
Filed under: Book Reviews
About Amanda MacGregor
Amanda MacGregor works in an elementary library, loves dogs, and can be found on Twitter @CiteSomething.
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