Post-It Note Reviews: A Quinceañera, Swimming, Ananse, School Band, and more!
You know the drill by now, right?
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.
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.
Miss Quinces: A Graphic Novel by Kat Fajardo (ISBN-13: 9781338535594 Publisher: Scholastic, Inc. Publication date: 05/03/2022, Ages 8-12)
Rising star Kat Fajardo’s debut middle-grade graphic novel about a girl who would rather do anything other than celebrate her quinceañera! A funny and heartfelt coming-of-age story about navigating the expectations of family and cultural tradition.
Sue just wants to spend the summer reading and making comics at sleepaway camp with her friends, but instead she gets stuck going to Honduras to visit relatives with her parents and two sisters. They live way out in the country, which means no texting, no cable, and no Internet! The trip takes a turn for the worse when Sue’s mother announces that they’ll be having a surprise quinceañera for Sue, which is the last thing she wants. She can’t imagine wearing a big, floofy, colorful dress! What is Sue going to do? And how will she survive all this “quality” time with her rambunctious family?
Miss Quinces/Srta. Quinces is the first graphic novel published by Scholastic/Graphix to be simultaneously released in English and Spanish editions!
(POST-IT SAYS: Suyapa is 15, but this graphic novel will appeal to elementary readers, too, who love Telgemeier and Berrybrook Middle School etc. Sue has a wonderful large family in Honduras, and the vibrant artwork captures their liveliness well.)
Smaller Sister by Maggie Edkins Willis (ISBN-13: 9781250767424 Publisher: Roaring Brook Press Publication date: 06/14/2022, Ages 8-12)
Maggie Edkins Willis’s Smaller Sister is a debut middle grade graphic novel about body image, confidence, and the everlasting bond of sisterhood.
Lucy’s always looked up to her big sister, Olivia, even though the two are polar opposites. But then, Lucy notices Olivia start to change. She doesn’t want to play with Lucy anymore, she’s unhappy with the way she looks, and she’s refusing to eat her dinner. Finally, Lucy discovers that her sister is not just growing up: Olivia is struggling with an eating disorder.
While her family is focused on her sister’s recovery, Lucy is left alone to navigate school and friendships. And just like her big sister, she begins to shrink.
But with time, work, and a dose of self-love, both sisters begin to heal and let themselves grow. Soon enough, Olivia and Lucy find their way back to each other—because sisters are the one friend you can never ditch.
(POST-IT SAYS: Really honest and emotional look at eating disorders, body image, friendship, and bullying. A compassionate story full of support and help and a great bond between sisters shows how important honesty, knowledge, and awareness are when it comes to eating disorders.)
Swim Team by Johnnie Christmas (ISBN-13: 9780063056763 Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers Publication date: 05/17/2022, Ages 8-12)
“Combines wonderful characters and history to create a story that will make you want to dive right in!” JERRY CRAFT, author of the Newbery Medal–winning New Kid
A splashy, contemporary middle grade graphic novel from bestselling comics creator Johnnie Christmas!
Bree can’t wait for her first day at her new middle school, Enith Brigitha, home to the Mighty Manatees—until she’s stuck with the only elective that fits her schedule, the dreaded Swim 101. The thought of swimming makes Bree more than a little queasy, yet she’s forced to dive headfirst into one of her greatest fears. Lucky for her, Etta, an elderly occupant of her apartment building and former swim team captain, is willing to help.
With Etta’s training and a lot of hard work, Bree suddenly finds her swim-crazed community counting on her to turn the school’s failing team around. But that’s easier said than done, especially when their rival, the prestigious Holyoke Prep, has everything they need to leave the Mighty Manatees in their wake.
Can Bree defy the odds and guide her team to a state championship, or have the Manatees swum their last lap—for good?
(POST-IT SAYS: Fantastic! Bree has to adjust to a lot after her move to Florida, but swimming is the biggest change and the biggest source of stress and joy. A unique approach to looking at racism and segregation. I just could not love this book more and hope to see a lot more from Christmas.)
The First Thing About You by Chaz Hayden (ISBN-13: 9781536223118 Publisher: Candlewick Press Publication date: 09/06/2022, Ages 14-17)
A high school student with spinal muscular atrophy is determined to reinvent himself in a hilarious and poignant debut from an exciting new voice.
When fifteen-year-old Harris moves with his family from California (home of beautiful-but-inaccessible beaches) to New Jersey (home of some much-hyped pizza and bagels), he’s determined to be known as more than just the kid in the powered wheelchair. Armed with his favorite getting-to-know-you question (“What’s your favorite color?”), he’ll weed out the incompatible people—the greens and the purples, people who are too close to his own blue to make for good friends—and surround himself with outgoing yellows, adventurousoranges, and even thrilling reds. But first things first: he needs to find a new nurse, stat, so that his mom doesn’t have to keep accompanying him to school.
Enter Miranda, a young nursing student who graduated from Harris’s new high school. Beautiful, confident, and the perfect blend of orange and red, Miranda sees Harris for who he really is—funny, smart, and totally worthy of the affections of Nory Fischer, the cute girl who’s in most of his classes. With Miranda at his side, Harris soon befriends geeky Zander (yellow) and even makes headway with Nory (who stubbornly refuses to reveal her favorite color). But Miranda is fighting her own demons, and Harris starts to wonder if she truly has his best interests at heart.
(POST-IT SAYS: I (purple) loved this look at the life of a teen with spinal muscular atrophy. Like all teens, Harris makes bad choices, messes up relationships, and has to learn not to judge people or make assumptions. Super readable, funny, and thoughtful.)
Surely Surely Marisol Rainey by Erin Entrada Kelly (ISBN-13: 9780062970459 Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers Publication date: 08/09/2022 Series: Maybe Marisol #2, Ages 8-12)
“Anyone who has ever had trouble feeling brave will be empowered by Marisol.”—NBC News
Everyone loves sports . . . except Marisol! The stand-alone companion to Newbery Medal winner and New York Times–bestselling Erin Entrada Kelly’s Maybe Maybe Marisol Rainey is an irresistible and humorous story about friendship, family, and fitting in. Fans of Clementine, Billy Miller Makes a Wish, and Ramona the Pest will find a new friend in Marisol.
Marisol Rainey’s two least-favorite things are radishes and gym class. She avoids radishes with very little trouble, but gym is another story—especially when Coach Decker announces that they will be learning to play kickball.
There are so many things that can go wrong in kickball. What if Marisol tries to kick the ball . . . but falls down? What if she tries to catch the ball and gets smacked in the nose? What if she’s the worst kickballer in the history of kickball? Marisol and her best friend Jada decide to get help from the most unlikely—and most annoying—athlete in the world: Marisol’s big brother, Oz.
Told in short chapters with illustrations by the author on almost every page, Erin Entrada Kelly’s stand-alone companion novel to Maybe Maybe Marisol Rainey celebrates the small but mighty Marisol, the joys of friendship, the power of being different, and the triumph of persevering. Surely Surely Marisol Rainey is ideal for readers of Kevin Henkes, Meg Medina, Judy Blume, and Beverly Cleary.
(POST-IT SAYS: So many young readers will relate to Marisol’s busy, anxious brain and her fear of having to participate in something she isn’t good at and finds intimidating. A great series with wide appeal.)
What We Saw: A Thriller by Mary Downing Hahn (ISBN-13: 9780358414414 Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers Publication date: 09/06/2022, Ages 10-12)
A chilling murder mystery lies at the heart of this page-turning thriller about a missing teacher, small town secrets, and turbulent tween friendships from master of middle grade horror Mary Downing Hahn.
When best friends Abbi and Skylar witness a clandestine meeting between a mysterious woman and someone in a dark van, they’re thrilled. Finally, a mystery to spice up the summer!
Who could these people be? Why are they meeting? Are they spies? Criminals? The two girls are determined to find out. But then a local woman goes missing and is found dead in the woods. And Abbi and Skylar realize that their detective work could hold the keys to solving her murder. Suddenly, sleuthing isn’t so fun anymore.
As tensions rise and their friendship frays, the girls find themselves in increasing danger, and must choose between keeping a secret or exposing a life-altering truth.
(POST-IT SAYS: The kids at my school LOVE her books and this will be another hit—less ghostly/supernatural than her other stuff but full of mystery and crimes. This skews a little older than her previous books, I think. A satisfying murder mystery.)
Fibbed by Elizabeth Agyemang (ISBN-13: 9780593204887 Publisher: Penguin Young Readers Group Publication date: 06/07/2022, Ages 8-12)
A magical middle-grade graphic novel about a girl who doesn’t lie but no one believes, and who winds up tangled in the web of a trickster spider of Ghanaian lore, Ananse.
Everyone says that the wild stories Nana tells are big fibs. But she always tells the truth, as ridiculous as it sounds to hear about the troupe of circus squirrels stealing her teacher’s toupee. When another outlandish explanation lands her in hot water again, her parents announce that Nana will be spending the summer with her grandmother in Ghana.
She isn’t happy to be missing the summer camp she’s looked forward to all year, or to be living with family that she barely knows, in a country where she can’t really speak the native language. But all her worries get a whole lot bigger—literally—when she comes face-to-face with Ananse, the trickster spider of legend.
Nana soon discovers that the forest around the village is a place of magic watched over by Ananse. But a group of greedy contractors are draining the magic from the land, intent on selling the wishes for their own gain. Nana must join forces with her cousin Tiwaa, new friend Akwesi, and Ananse himself to save the magic from those who are out to steal it before the magic—and the forest—are gone for good.
(POST-IT SAYS: Though sometimes a little confusing to follow, I liked this look at Nana’s summer in Ghana where she learns about magic, myth, climate change, colonialism, storytelling, folklore, and family. A colorful and vibrant Ananse story.)
Growing Pangs by Kathryn Ormsbee, Molly Brooks (Illustrator) (ISBN-13: 9780593301319 Publisher: Random House Children’s Books Publication date: 05/03/2022, Ages 8-12)
Introducing an irresistibly relatable graphic novel about friendship and growing up, “an excellent companion to Raina Telgemeier’s Guts and Shannon Hale and LeUyen Pham’s Real Friends series.”—Booklist, Starred Review
New Friends. New grade. New worries?
Katie’s always felt different. She’s homeschooled, she has freckles, and her teeth are really crooked. But none of these things matter to Kacey. They’re best friends forever—just like their necklaces say. But when they go to summer camp, Kacey starts acting weird. What happened to the “forever”? And when Katie gets home, she can’t stop worrying. About getting braces. About 6th grade. About friends. She knows tapping three times or opening and closing a drawer won’t make everything better . . . but sometimes it helps stop the worrying. Is something wrong with her?
(POST-IT SAYS: Excellent mental health rep—both author and illustrator have OCD like main character Katie. Wonderful pieces, too, about changing friendships, new experiences, and new interests. Great read.)
Scout Is Not a Band Kid by Jade Armstrong (ISBN-13: 9780593176221 Publisher: Random House Children’s Books Publication date: 04/05/2022, Ages 8-12)
A young girl in middle school will do whatever it takes to meet her favorite author—even if it means joining her school band! A contemporary graphic novel about making your dream come true—and the friends you make along the way.
When Scout learns that her favorite author is doing an exclusive autograph session at the end of the year, she’s determined to be there! She officially needs a plan…and when she finds out that her school’s band is heading to the same location for their annual trip, an idea takes shape. Being a band kid can’t be that hard, right?
As it turns out, learning how to play an instrument when you can’t even read music is much, much, MUCH tougher than expected. And it’s even harder for Scout when her friends aren’t on board with her new hobby. Will she be able to master the trombone, make new band friends, and get to her favorite author’s book signing? Tackling everything seems like a challenge for a supergenius superfriend supermusician—and she’s just Scout.
(POST-IT SAYS: Oh, Scout. So many not great choices made along the way, but, like all people, she learns about friendship, responsibility, and decisions as she goes, ending in a nice place with real friends and a new attitude.)
Zara’s Rules for Finding Hidden Treasure by Hena Khan, Wastana Haikal (Illustrator) (ISBN-13: 9781534497610 Publisher: Salaam Reads / Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers Publication date: 10/18/2022 Series: Zara’s Rules #2, Ages 7-10)
From the beloved author of Amina’s Voice comes the second book in the delightful Zara’s Rules middle grade series following Zara as she starts her own business!
Zara lives for bike rides with her friends—so when her shiny, brand-new bike goes missing from the park one day, she’s crushed. After her parents insist she earn the money for another one herself, Zara’s determined to start a business. But what kind? A lemonade stand? Not profitable enough. Selling painted rocks? Not enough customers.
Zara’s starting to get discouraged when she and her friend Naomi finally come up with the perfect idea: The Treasure Wagon, a roving garage sale that unloads knickknacks from the Saleem family basement and makes money all at once! But when a mix-up gets Zara in hot water again, will she have to give up everything she’s earned toward her new bike?
(POST-IT SAYS: I really love this new series. Highlights are the vibrant, tight-knit neighborhood, lots of great illustrations, and all of the time Zara and friends are outdoors having fun and being creative. A necessary addition to collections. Can’t wait for the next one!)
We the People! (Big Ideas that Changed the World #4) by Don Brown (ISBN-13: 9781419757389 Publisher: Amulet Books Publication date: 10/04/2022, Ages 8-12)
Award-winning author Don Brown explores the history of democracy in the United States in this installment of the Big Ideas That Changed the World series
The Greek word democracy comes from demos (people) and kratos (rule)—meaning “the people hold power.” In this timely graphic novel, acclaimed author-illustrator Don Brown explores the history of democracy—from civilization’s beginnings as hunter-gatherers to the birth of monarchies and vast empires, and from the earliest republics to our present-day government.
Narrated by Abigail Adams, We the People! explores how Athenian and Greek assemblies inspired our legislative and judiciary branches; how Enlightenment ideals of reason, toleration, and human progress shaped our founding fathers’ thinking; how Mali’s Manden Charter and England’s Magna Carta influenced our Bill of Rights; and how the Haudenosaunee (Iroquois) Confederacy directly shaped the US Constitution. Explaining the fundamentals of democracy—liberty, equality, and justice for all—in a kid-friendly way, We the People! is a powerful reminder that power rests in the people’s hands.
Big Ideas That Changed the World is a graphic novel series that celebrates the hard-won succession of ideas that ultimately changed the world. Humor, drama, and art unite to tell the story of events, discoveries, and ingenuity over time that led humans to come up with a big idea and then make it come true.
(POST-IT SAYS: I’m really enjoying this Big Ideas series. Solid crash courses in graphic novel format presented in a conversational tone that reports the facts of history while critiquing choices, mistakes, and omissions. Informational and enjoyable.)
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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