Post-It Note Reviews: Wish granters, brotherly mischief, a high-stakes scavenger hunt, and more!
Here’s another round of quick reviews of recently released books. Post-it note reviews are a great way to allow students, staff, and librarians to show off their recommended reads!
All descriptions are from the publishers. My post-it review, typed, follows (telling you that so you don’t have to try to read my scrawl—-thanks, carpal tunnel!).
When You Wish Upon a Lantern by Gloria Chao (ISBN-13: 9780593464359 Publisher: Penguin Young Readers Group Publication date: 02/14/2023, Ages 12-17)
Acclaimed author Gloria Chao creates real-world magic in this luminous romance about teens who devote themselves to granting other people’s wishes but are too afraid to let themselves have their own hearts’ desires—each other.
Liya and Kai had been best friends since they were little kids, but all that changed when a humiliating incident sparked The Biggest Misunderstanding of All Time—and they haven’t spoken since.
Then Liya discovers her family’s wishing lantern store is struggling, and she decides to resume a tradition she had with her beloved late grandmother: secretly fulfilling the wishes people write on the lanterns they send into the sky. It may boost sales and save the store, but she can’t do it alone . . . and Kai is the only one who cares enough to help.
While working on their covert missions, Liya and Kai rekindle their friendship—and maybe more. But when their feuding families and changing futures threaten to tear them apart again, can they find a way to make their own wishes come true?
(POST-IT SAYS: I always love the “rival families” premise! Great slow-burn romance built around a story about community, happiness, and kindness. The characters have great chemistry and such good hearts. A sweet delight.)
Link + Hud: Heroes by a Hair by Jarrett Pumphrey, Jerome Pumphrey (ISBN-13: 9781324016090 Publisher: Norton Young Readers Publication date: 03/07/2023 Series: Link + Hud, Ages 8-11)
Meet Link and Hud—brothers causing chaos in the first of a new middle grade series from real-life brothers Jarrett and Jerome Pumphrey.
Lincoln and Hudson Dupré are brothers with what grown-ups call “active imaginations.” Link and Hud hunt for yetis in the Himalayas and battle orcs on epic quests. Unfortunately, their imaginary adventures wreak havoc in their real world. Dr. and Mrs. Dupré have tried every babysitter in the neighborhood and are at their wits’ end.
Enter Ms. Joyce. Strict and old-fashioned, she proves to be a formidable adversary. The boys don’t like her or her rules and decide she’s got to go. Through a series of escalating events—told as high-action comic panel sequences—the brothers conspire to undermine Ms. Joyce and get her fired. When they go so big that even Ms. Joyce can’t fix it, suddenly she’s out. Finally, success! Or is it?
With warm and authentic humor, Jarrett and Jerome Pumphrey have blended prose and graphic novel-style illustrations to craft a unique and subversive new series full of brotherly mischief and mayhem.
(POST-IT SAYS: I hope this becomes a series with many books and ends up on shelves everywhere! Excellent mix of narrative chapters and comics panels. The imaginative characters are great and their adventures are hilarious. Super fun read.)
Jiu-Jitsu Girl by Jennifer Dutton (ISBN-13: 9781631636929 Publisher: North Star Editions Publication date: 01/24/2023, Ages 8-13)
What’s more terrifying than being forced into a coed combat wrestling martial art by your own mother? Sixth grade.
Angie Larson hates Jiu-Jitsu. Like many twelve-year-old girls, she fails to find the glamour in a martial art that embraces zero personal space and choking as an end goal. Seriously, people choke her, drip sweat on her face, and even wrap their legs around her neck. It’s the worst. Instead, she idolizes the seemingly perfect kids at her school who do “normal” activities like dance or soccer. But just when it seems like Angie is about to be accepted by them, her mom enrolls her in a Jiu-Jitsu tournament and begins a relationship with the sweatiest coach on the planet. And to make things more complicated, Angie develops a close friendship with a boy who is definitely not part of the “cool” crowd.
Angie must decide who she is while making some painful decisions both on and off the mat. Is she a dance girl, a soccer girl, a nothing girl . . . or a Jiu-Jitsu girl?
(POST-IT SAYS: 6th grade Angie is the new girl at school and tries to figure out popularity, the cool/mean girls, body image issues, real friendship, and if she can possibly like jiu-jitsu. Good messages and unique angle with an underrepresented sport.)
Share Better and Stress Less: A Guide to Thinking Ecologically about Social Media by Whitney Phillips, Ryan Milner (ISBN-13: 9781536228748 Publisher: Miteen Press Publication date: 03/14/2023, Ages 14-17)
Two media experts offer a witty, warm, and relatable take on how information pollution affects our online networks—and our well-being—and how to maximize a positive impact.
We know that pollution damages our physical environments—but what about the digital landscape? Touching on everything from goat memes gone wrong to conflict in group chats to the sometimes unexpected side effects of online activism, this lively guide to media literacy draws on ecological, social justice, and storytelling frameworks to help readers understand how information pollution spreads and why. It also helps them make sense of the often stressful and strange online world. Featuring a hyperconnected cast of teens and their social-media shenanigans, reader-friendly text tackles the thorny topic of internet ethics while empowering—and inspiring—young readers to weave a safe, secure, and inclusive digital world. Readers are invited to delve further into the subject with the help of comprehensive source notes and a bibliography in the back matter.
(POST-IT SAYS: Framing this book on digital ethics as “information pollution” helps drive home the points on digital citizenship, information literacy, the damaging effects of social media, and more. Lots to think about and discuss.)
Breaking the Mold: Changing the Face of Climate Science by Dana Alison Levy (ISBN-13: 9780823449712 Publisher: Holiday House Publication date: 02/21/2023 Series: Books for a Better Earth, Ages 8-12)
Sixteen scientists. Protecting our planet. Making science more equitable.
Scientists who collect microbes from surfers’ skin, who use radar sensors to gather data miles away, who combat inequality by pushing for cleaner air policies. Each with their own story, all working to make life better for future generations.
Celebrated author Dana Alison Levy profiles 16 people, all studying different elements of the earth’s landscape, animals, and climate, who defy stereotypes of who can be a scientist. From analytical chemists to volcanologists, from global experts to recent graduates, these scientists share what they were like as young people, how they got where they are now, and what they—and the rest of us—can do to help the planet.
Based on extensive interviews and featuring infographics and personal photos, Breaking the Mold offers a snapshot of the people and organizations fighting to make science more equitable. Back matter includes advice for readers interested in science careers, DIY projects, paths to community involvement, and more.
Books for a Better Earth are designed to inspire children to become active, knowledgeable participants in caring for the planet they live on.
(POST-IT SAYS: Wonderful design with full-color pictures, so much information, and a great diversity of representation. An awesome resource on environmental science and its leading figures. As inspiring as it is informational.)
The Jump by Brittney Morris (ISBN-13: 9781665903981 Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books For Young Readers Publication date: 03/07/2023, Ages 12-18)
From the acclaimed author of SLAY and The Cost of Knowing comes an action-driven, high-octane novel about a group of working-class teens in Seattle who join a dangerous scavenger hunt with a prize that can save their families and community.
Influence is power. Power creates change. And change is exactly what Team Jericho needs.
Jax, Yas, Spider, and Han are the four cornerstones of Team Jericho, the best scavenger hunting team in all of Seattle. Each has their own specialty: Jax, the puzzler; Yas, the parkourist; Spider, the hacker; and Han, the cartographer. But now with an oil refinery being built right in their backyard, each also has their own problems. Their families are at risk of losing their jobs, their communities, and their homes.
So when The Order, a mysterious vigilante organization, hijacks the scavenger hunting forum and concocts a puzzle of its own, promising a reward of influence, Team Jericho sees it as the chance of a lifetime. If they win this game, they could change their families’ fates and save the city they love so much. But with an opposing team hot on their heels, it’s going to take more than street smarts to outwit their rivals.
(POST-IT SAYS: Fast-paced plot full of puzzles and riddles featuring a diverse cast and lots of action and intrigue. Full of teamwork and impressive skill sets, this high stakes scavenger hunt is as much about friendship as it is about the game.)
Zara’s Rules for Living Your Best Life by Hena Khan, Wastana Haikal (Illustrator) (ISBN-13: 9781534497641 Publisher: Salaam Reads / Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers Publication date: 03/21/2023 Series: Zara’s Rules #3, Ages 7-10)
From the award-winning author of Amina’s Voice and Amina’s Song comes the third book in the charming middle grade Zara’s Rules series following Zara as she tries to save her spring break!
It’s spring break and Zara and Naomi have big plans…until Zara finds out that Naomi’s parents are sending her to camp and Zara and Zayd are going to spend the week with their grandparents. Zara’s pretty sure it’s a rule that spring break is supposed to be full of fun and adventure—not doing chores for Naano and watching Nana Abu doze on the couch! But ever since Nana Abu retired, it seems all he wants to do is eat and sleep, and Zara’s worried their grandfather has lost his mojo.
Meanwhile, Naomi’s having a blast at her day camp. Since Zara can’t join her, can Zara find a way to bring the fun of camp to her grandparents’ home? With a little help from Zayd, Zara concocts a plan that just might save her vacation—and help her grandfather start living his best life.
(POST-IT SAYS: I totally love this series. Warm family connections, make-your-own fun, creative problem solving, and so much heart. Such an easy series to recommend widely—broad appeal of kids just being kids.)
Aniana del Mar Jumps In by Jasminne Mendez (ISBN-13: 9780593531815 Publisher: Penguin Young Readers Group Publication date: 03/14/2023, Ages 8-12)
“Beautiful in its honesty and vulnerability, this is a powerful story about dreams and bodily agency that sings from the heart.”—Natalia Sylvester, award-winning author of Breathe and Count Back From Ten
A powerful and expertly told novel-in-verse by about a 12-year-old Dominican American swimmer who is diagnosed with Juvenile Arthritis by an award-winning poet.
Aniana del Mar belongs in the water like a dolphin belongs to the sea. But she and Papi keep her swim practices and meets hidden from Mami, who has never recovered from losing someone she loves to the water years ago. That is, until the day Ani’s stiffness and swollen joints mean she can no longer get out of bed, and Ani is forced to reveal just how important swimming is to her. Mami forbids her from returning to the water but Ani and her doctor believe that swimming along with medication will help Ani manage her disease. What follows is the journey of a girl who must grieve who she once was in order to rise like the tide and become the young woman she is meant to be. Aniana Del Mar Jumps In is a poignant story about chronic illness and disability, the secrets between mothers and daughters, the harm we do to the ones we love the most—and all the triumphs, big and small, that keep us afloat.
(POST-IT SAYS: Verse, with its playful form showing so much motion, is the perfect vehicle for this achingly heartfelt story about joys, grief, trauma, disability, and chronic illness. A beautifully crafted book.)
In Limbo by Deb JJ Lee (ISBN-13: 9781250252654 Publisher: First Second Publication date: 03/07/2023, Ages 14-18)
A debut YA graphic memoir about a Korean-American girl’s coming-of-age story—and a coming home story—set between a New Jersey suburb and Seoul, South Korea.
Ever since Deborah (Jung-Jin) Lee emigrated from South Korea to the United States, she’s felt her otherness.
For a while, her English wasn’t perfect. Her teachers can’t pronounce her Korean name. Her face and her eyes—especially her eyes—feel wrong.
In high school, everything gets harder. Friendships change and end, she falls behind in classes, and fights with her mom escalate. Caught in limbo, with nowhere safe to go, Deb finds her mental health plummeting, resulting in a suicide attempt.
But Deb is resilient and slowly heals with the help of art and self-care, guiding her to a deeper understanding of her heritage and herself.
This stunning debut graphic memoir features page after page of gorgeous, evocative art, perfect for Tillie Walden fans. It’s a cross section of the Korean-American diaspora and mental health, a moving and powerful read in the vein of Hey, Kiddo and The Best We Could Do.
(POST-IT SAYS: Korean American Deb copes with educational pressures, isolation/not fitting in, and a demanding mother while also struggling with anxiety and depression. Art classes, therapy, and some honest conversations offer hope and healing.)
Fox Point’s Own Gemma Hopper by Brie Spangler (ISBN-13: 9780593428481 Publisher: Random House Children’s Books Publication date: 04/11/2023, Ages 8-12)
A heartwarming graphic novel about a baseball-obsessed 7th grader, trying to find her place in the sports world and her family.
In their tiny corner of Fox Point, Rhode Island, Gemma Hopper’s older brother, Teddy, is a baseball god, destined to become a Major League star. Gemma loves playing baseball, but with her mom gone and her dad working endless overtime, it’s up to her to keep the house running. She’s too busy folding laundry, making lunches, getting her younger twin brothers to do their homework, and navigating the perils of middle-school friendships to take baseball seriously.
But every afternoon, Gemma picks up her baseball glove to pitch to Teddy during his batting practice—throwing sliders down and away, fastballs right over the middle (not too fast or he’ll get mad), and hanging curveballs high and tight.
Could baseball be Gemma’s ticket to the big leagues or will it mean the end of her family as she knows it?
(POST-IT SAYS: Gemma is worn down by endless responsibilities at home, not fitting in at school, and living in her brother’s shadow. Things do look up, though, as she confronts hard, painful truths and embraces an unexpected opportunity that will give her new agency.)
Hands by Torrey Maldonado (ISBN-13: 9780593323793 Publisher: Penguin Young Readers Group Publication date: 01/24/2023, Ages 10-13)
“Gorgeous and gripping, Hands is a poetic page-turner. You might just finish it in one sitting. Torrey Maldonado understands the kids he writes for at the deepest level.” —Adam Gidwitz, Newbery Honor–winning author of The Inquisitor’s Tale
The author of What Lane? and Tight delivers a fast-paced read that packs a punch about a boy figuring out how to best use his hands—to build or to knock down.
Trev would do anything to “protect” his mom and sisters, especially from his stepdad. But his stepdad’s return stresses Trev—because when he left, he threatened Trev’s mom. Rather than live scared, Trev takes matters into his own hands, literally. He starts learning to box to handle his stepdad. But everyone isn’t a fan of his plan, because Trev’s a talented artist, and his hands could actually help him build a better future. And they’re letting him know. But their advice for some distant future feels useless in his reality right now. Ultimately, Trev knows his future is in his hands, and his hands are his own, and he has to choose how to use them.
(POST-IT SAYS: So much is packed into this slim book! Loved how Trev is looked after by so many in his community as he grapples with his role in his family. Fast-paced read about masculinity and choices.)
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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