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Post-It Note Reviews: Detained children, awkward moments, the history of vaccines, 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. Doing these short reviews would also be a great way to share more books during distance learning!

Frequent blog readers may have noticed I’m doing a lot more post-it-style reviews and less longer, individual review posts. Partially this is because my way of coping with the many upsetting pieces of the past year has been to drown myself in reading, so I’m burning through so many more books and want to share them, in some form, here. 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.

Illustrations for this book by Cecilia Ruiz, Yuyi Morales, Juan Palomino, Paco Santoyo, Adriana Campos, Salomon Duarte Granados, Flavia Zorrilla Drago, Bayo Flores, Edith Valle, Gloria Felix, Mirelle Ortega, Maria Lumbreras, Addy Rivera Sonda, Beatriz Gutierrez Hernandez, Daniela Martin del Campo, Dominique Arce, Raul Gonzalez III

Hear My Voice/Escucha mi voz: The Testimonies of Children Detained at the Southern Border of the United States by Warren Binford (Compiler), Michael Garcia Bochenek (Foreword by) (ISBN-13: 9781523513482 Publisher: Workman Publishing Company, Inc. Publication date: 04/13/2021, Ages 8+)

The Testimony of Children 

A moving picture book for older children and families that introduces a difficult topic, amplifying the voices and experiences of immigrant children detained at the border between Mexico and the US. The children’s actual words (from publicly available court documents) are assembled to tell one heartbreaking story, in both English and Spanish (back to back). Each spread is illustrated in striking full-color by a different Latinx artist. A portion of sales will be donated to human rights organizations that work with children on the border.

(POST-IT SAYS: Educational and absolutely heartbreaking. The words of the children and their experiences are just gutting. A forward and back matter give more info, questions to think on, and ways to help. An essential purchase.)

So Embarrassing: Awkward Moments and How to Get Through Them by Charise Mericle Harper (ISBN-13: 9781523510177 Publisher: Workman Publishing Company, Inc. Publication date: 11/10/2020, Ages 8-12)

A graphic novel that makes embarrassment into something hilarious – and normal.
 
You’re not alone! No way are you the first kid who ever tripped and fell in public. Or spilled water on your pants so it looked like… you know! For those moments and more, here’s, the book that understands what you’re going through when you get caught farting in class.
 
Laugh-out-loud funny yet enormously compassionate, So Embarrassing is a comics-style compilation of stories about awkward and embarrassing situations for kids. Written and drawn by Charise Mericle Harper, the bestselling creator of the Just Grace series, So Embarrassing combines humor, science facts (what happens when we blush, for example), tips for quickly recovering from a cringe-worthy situation, and practical advice––like what to say to comfort a totally embarrassed friend.

(POST-IT SAYS: While not perfect—this book won’t do much to alleviate actual anxiety—it covers a lot of ground on how we all can get embarrassed and advice on how to react and cope. The comics style adds appeal, but busy text-packed pages may overwhelm readers. Less of a useful tool and more just examples of embarrassment.)

The Key to You and Me by Jaye Robin Brown (ISBN-13: 9780062824585 Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers Publication date: 04/20/2021, Ages 14-17)

A sweet and funny ownvoices LGBTQ+ romance perfect for fans of Becky Albertalli and Julie Murphy, from the critically acclaimed author of Georgia Peaches and Other Forbidden Fruit!

Piper Kitts is spending the summer living with her grandmother, training at the barn of a former Olympic horseback rider, and trying to get over her ex-girlfriend. Much to Piper’s dismay, her grandmother is making her face her fear of driving by taking lessons from a girl in town.

Kat Pearson has always suspected that she likes girls but fears her North Carolina town is too small to color outside the lines. But when Piper’s grandmother hires Kat to give her driving lessons, everything changes.

Piper’s not sure if she’s ready to let go of her ex. Kat’s navigating uncharted territory with her new crush. With the summer running out, will they be able to unlock a future together?

(POST-IT SAYS: Alternate narration lets readers into the minds of already out Piper and Kat, who’s still figuring out here attractions and identity. The quiet plot centers more on coming to terms with identity and moving on from a not great relationship. Character-driven readers will enjoy watching the characters figure it all out.)

Amina’s Song by Hena Khan (ISBN-13: 9781534459885 Publisher: Salaam Reads / Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers Publication date: 03/09/2021 Series: Amina’s Voice Series #2, Ages 8-12)

In the companion novel to the beloved and award-winning Amina’s Voice, Amina once again uses her voice to bridge the places, people, and communities she loves—this time across continents. 

It’s the last few days of her vacation in Pakistan, and Amina has loved every minute of it. The food, the shops, the time she’s spent with her family—all of it holds a special place in Amina’s heart. Now that the school year is starting again, she’s sad to leave, but also excited to share the wonders of Pakistan with her friends back in Greendale. 

After she’s home, though, her friends don’t seem overly interested in her trip. And when she decides to do a presentation on Pakistani hero Malala Yousafzai, her classmates focus on the worst parts of the story. How can Amina share the beauty of Pakistan when no one wants to listen?

(POST-IT SAYS: So glad to get more Amina. A lovely story about identity, voice, culture, and connection. Emily, Soojin, and new friend Nico, along with Rabiya and Amina’s extended family add so much to the story and Amina’s exploration of self. A delight.)

Delicates by Brenna Thummler (ISBN-13: 9781620107881 Publisher: Oni Press Publication date: 03/23/2021 Series: Sheets #2, Ages 12+)

Following the events of the bestselling graphic novel, SheetsDelicates brings Brenna Thummler’s beloved characters, artwork, and charm back to life.

Marjorie Glatt’s life hasn’t been the same ever since she discovered a group of ghosts hiding in her family’s laundromat. Wendell, who died young and now must wander Earth as a ghost with nothing more than a sheet for a body, soon became one of Marjorie’s only friends. But when Marjorie finally gets accepted by the popular kids at school, she begins to worry that if anyone learns about her secret ghost friends, she’ll be labeled as a freak who sees dead people. With Marjorie’s insistence on keeping Wendell’s ghost identity a secret from her new friends, Wendell begins to feel even more invisible than he already is.

Eliza Duncan feels invisible too. She’s an avid photographer, and her zealous interest in finding and photographing ghosts gets her labeled as “different” by all the other kids in school. Constantly feeling on the outside, Eliza begins to feel like a ghost herself. Marjorie must soon come to terms with the price she pays to be accepted by the popular kids. Is it worth losing her friend, Wendell? Is she partially to blame for the bullying Eliza endures?

Delicates tells a powerful story about what it means to fit in, and those left on the outside. It shows what it’s like to feel invisible, and the importance of feeling seen. Above all, it is a story of asking for help when all seems dark, and bringing help and light to those who need it most.

(POST-IT SAYS: A strong sequel to Sheets with a deep but delicate (sorry!) look at bullying, suicide, grief, loneliness, and what it means to be a ghost. Emotional and sensitive. Now I want a volume all about Wendell.)

We Are the Ashes, We Are the Fire by Joy McCullough (ISBN-13: 9780525556053 Publisher: Penguin Young Readers Group Publication date: 02/09/2021, Ages 14-17)

From the author of the acclaimed Blood Water Paint, a new contemporary YA novel in prose and verse about a girl struggling with guilt and a desire for revenge after her sister’s rapist escapes with no prison time.

Em Morales’s older sister was raped by another student after a frat party. A jury eventually found the rapist guilty on all counts—a remarkable verdict that Em felt more than a little responsible for, since she was her sister’s strongest advocate on social media during the trial. Her passion and outspokenness helped dissuade the DA from settling for a plea deal. Em’s family would have real justice. 

But the victory is short-lived. In a matter of minutes, justice vanishes as the judge turns the Morales family’s world upside down again by sentencing the rapist to no prison time. While her family is stunned, Em is literally sick with rage and guilt. To make matters worse, a news clip of her saying that the sentence makes her want to learn “how to use a sword” goes viral.

From this low point, Em must find a new reason to go on and help her family heal, and she finds it in the unlikely form of the story of a fifteenth-century French noblewoman, Marguerite de Bressieux, who is legendary as an avenging knight for rape victims.

We Are the Ashes, We Are the Fire is a searing and nuanced portrait of a young woman torn between a persistent desire for revenge and a burning need for hope.

(POST-IT SAYS: Good god—what a read. A deeply emotional story about rape, anger, vengeance, power, and controlling the narrative. Em’s righteous fury and need for some action and control power her fascinating story of a noblewoman knight. Intense and stunning.)

Maybe Maybe Marisol Rainey by Erin Entrada Kelly (ISBN-13: 9780062970428 Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers Publication date: 05/04/2021 Series: Maybe Marisol #1, Ages 7-9)

Introducing eight-year-old Marisol Rainey—an irresistible new character from Newbery Medalist and New York Times–bestselling Erin Entrada Kelly!

Maybe, Maybe Marisol Rainey is an illustrated novel about summer, friendship, and overcoming fears, told with warm humor and undeniable appeal. Fans of Clementine, The Year of Billy Miller, and Ramona the Pest will be thrilled to meet Marisol.

Marisol Rainey’s mother was born in the Philippines. Marisol’s father works and lives part-time on an oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico. And Marisol, who has a big imagination and likes to name inanimate objects, has a tree in her backyard she calls Peppina . . . but she’s way too scared to climb it. This all makes Marisol the only girl in her small Louisiana town with a mother who was born elsewhere and a father who lives elsewhere (most of the time)—the only girl who’s fearful of adventure and fun.

Will Marisol be able to salvage her summer and have fun with Jada, her best friend? Maybe. Will Marisol figure out how to get annoying Evie Smythe to leave her alone? Maybe. Will Marisol ever get to spend enough real time with her father? Maybe. Will Marisol find the courage to climb Peppina? Maybe.  

Told in short chapters with illustrations by the author on nearly every page, Maybe, Maybe Marisol Rainey is a must-have for early elementary grade readers. Erin Entrada Kelly celebrates the small but mighty Marisol, the joys of friendship, and the triumph of overcoming your fears in this stunning new novel for readers of Kevin Henkes, Meg Medina, Andrew Clements, Sara Pennypacker,  and Kate DiCamillo. 

Features black-and-white artwork throughout by Erin Entrada Kelly.

(POST-IT SAYS: A perfect little book about fears, friendship, and feelings. With Marisol being biracial (white and Filipino) and best pal Jada Black, this is an especially great addition to books for elementary readers. Lots to love here.)

A Shot in the Arm!: Big Ideas that Changed the World #3 by Don Brown (ISBN-13: 9781419750014 Publisher: Amulet Books Publication date: 04/20/2021, Ages 8-12)

Award-winning author Don Brown explores the history of vaccines from smallpox to COVID-19 in this installment of the Big Ideas That Changed the World series

A Shot in the Arm! explores the history of vaccinations and the struggle to protect people from infectious diseases, from smallpox—perhaps humankind’s greatest affliction to date—to the COVID-19 pandemic. Highlighting deadly diseases such as measles, polio, rabies, cholera, and influenza, Brown tackles the science behind how our immune systems work, the discovery of bacteria, the anti-vaccination movement, and major achievements from Lady Mary Wortley Montagu, who popularized inoculation in England, and from scientists like Louis Pasteur, Antonie van Leeuwenhoek, and Edward Jenner, the “father of immunology.” Timely and fascinating, A Shot in the Arm! is a reminder of vaccines’ contributions to public health so far, as well as the millions of lives they can still save.

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: The timeliest of books! I’m a huge fan of Don Brown and he does a great job of making the history of vaccines extremely accessible and interesting. Readers will be fascinated!)

Across the Tracks: Remembering Greenwood, Black Wall Street, and the Tulsa Race Massacre by Alverne Ball, Stacey Robinson (Illustrator), Reynaldo Anderson (Contribution by), Colette Yellow Robe (Contribution by) (ISBN-13: 9781419755170 Publisher: Abrams ComicArts – Megascope Publication date: 05/04/2021, Ages 10-14)

One hundred years after the Tulsa Race Massacre, Across the Tracks is a celebration and memorial of Greenwood, Oklahoma

In Across the Tracks: Remembering Greenwood, Black Wall Street, and the Tulsa Race Massacre, author Alverne Ball and illustrator Stacey Robinson have crafted a love letter to Greenwood, Oklahoma. Also known as Black Wall Street, Greenwood was a community whose importance is often overshadowed by the atrocious massacre that took place there in 1921.

Across the Tracks introduces the reader to the businesses and townsfolk who flourished in this unprecedented time of prosperity for Black Americans. We learn about Greenwood and why it is essential to remember the great achievements of the community as well as the tragedy which nearly erased it. However, Ball is careful to recount the eventual recovery of Greenwood. With additional supplementary materials including a detailed preface, timeline, and historical essay, Across the Tracks offers a thorough examination of the rise, fall, and rebirth of Black Wall Street.

(POST-IT SAYS: Pair this with Randi Pink’s Angel of Greenwood for a fuller look at the Tulsa Race Massacre. This is a quick but informational overview of how this Black community grew to thrive and then was destroyed. Educational and important.)

Ways to Grow Love by Renée Watson, Nina Mata (Illustrator) (ISBN-13: 9781547600588 Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Publication date: 04/27/2021 Series: A Ryan Hart Story #2, Ages 7-10)

Newbery Honor and Coretta Scott King Author Award winner Renée Watson continues her charming young middle grade series starring Ryan Hart, a girl who is pure spirit and sunshine.

Ryan Hart and her family are back in another installment of stories about a Black girl finding her way and her voice as she grows through change and challenges. In this book, Ryan finds herself waiting on lots of things — like for her new sister to be born healthy, for her new recipes to turn out right, for that summer camp trip to go better than she fears! And of course Ryan is facing these new challenges and new experiences in her classic style — with a bright outlook and plenty of spirit!

(POST-IT SAYS: You need to know this new series. Sweet summer adventures—the library, camp, an amusement park—mix perfectly with small fears about family and friendships changing. Full of love, kindness, and caring.)

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