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Post-It Note Reviews: Graphic novels, a ghost story, time travel, absurd words, 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. 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.

Karen’s Worst Day (Baby-sitters Little Sister Graphic Novel #3) (Adapted edition) by Ann M. Martin, Katy Farina (Illustrator) (ISBN-13: 9781338356182 Publisher: Scholastic, Inc. Publication date: 12/29/2020)

Another graphic novel in this fun series spin-off of The Baby-sitters Club, featuring Kristy’s little stepsister!

Karen is having a terrible day. Her favorite jeans are missing, there’s no prize in the Crunch-O cereal box, and Boo-Boo the cat won’t play with her. She even gets punished and sent to her room!

Karen tries everything to make her day better, but nothing is going right and her bad luck just won’t go away. Will this be the worst day ever?

Karen’s Kittycat Club (Baby-sitters Little Sister Graphic Novel #4) (Adapted edition) by Ann M. Martin, Katy Farina (Illustrator) (ISBN-13: 9781338356212 Publisher: Scholastic, Inc. Publication date: 07/20/2021)

Karen wants to start her own club!

Karen’s best friend Hannie just got an adorable new kitten. Their neighbor Amanda has a cat, too, and Karen has grumpy old Boo-Boo. Now that they all have cats, Karen comes up with a great idea. She wants to start a Kittycat Club!

What will the club do? Karen can’t baby-sit like her big sister Kristy… but she can cat-sit! Will anyone want to hire Karen and her friends?

(POST-IT SAYS: These graphic novels continue to be super cute and fun. Perfect for the 6-9 set. Spirited Karen has LOTS of big feelings and lots of people to help her negotiate them.)

Partly Cloudy by Tanita S. Davis (ISBN-13: 9780062937001 Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers Publication date: 09/07/2021, Ages 8-12)

From award-winning author Tanita S. Davis comes a nuanced exploration of the microaggressions of middle school and a young Black girl named Madalyn who learns that being a good friend means dealing with the blue skies and the rain—and having the tough conversations on days that are partly cloudy. Perfect for fans of A Good Kind of Trouble and From the Desk of Zoe Washington.

Lightning couldn’t strike twice, could it? After a terrible year, Madalyn needs clear skies desperately. Moving in with her great-uncle, Papa Lobo, and switching to a new school is just the first step.

It’s not all rainbows and sunshine, though. Madalyn discovers she’s the only Black girl in her class, and while most of her classmates are friendly, assumptions lead to some serious storms.

Papa Lobo’s long-running feud with neighbor Mrs. Baylor brings wild weather of its own, and Madalyn wonders just how far things will go. But when fire threatens the community, Madalyn discovers that truly being neighborly means more than just staying on your side of the street— it means weathering tough conversations—and finding that together a family can pull through anything.

Award-winning author Tanita S. Davis shows us that life isn’t always clear, and that partly cloudy days still contain a bit of blue worth celebrating.

(POST-IT SAYS: Madalyn tackles tough conversations, big changes, and lots of discomfort in this quiet story. Character-driven readers will appreciate Madalyn’s adjustments and realizations.)

Tia Lugo Speaks No Evil by Danette Vigilante (ISBN-13: 9781631635755 Publisher: North Star Editions Publication date: 08/17/2021, Ages 10-14)

Tia Lugo has a deadly secret.

Tia Lugo considers herself an ordinary thirteen-year-old girl. She just wants to enjoy the end of summer, which means hanging out with her best friend and neighbor, Julius, and ignoring her Puerto Rican grandmother’s embarrassing reliance on creepy candles, weird-smelling herb bundles, and eerie statues—all available for sale at the nearby botanica. But when Tia witnesses a murder late one night from her bedroom window, everything changes in an instant.

Now, Tia is terrified to tell anyone what she’s seen. What if the killer comes after her too? He knows where she lives. Even worse, Tia believes he’s sending her secret messages, reminding her to stay quiet. Desperate to keep herself and her family safe, Tia turns to the last place she ever thought she’d go: her grandmother’s favorite shopping spot, the botanica.

(POST-IT SAYS: Pretty solid suspenseful middle grade thriller. Nota lot of murder mysteries for this age—especially with the main character as the witness. Fast-paced and filled with memorable characters.)

Ham Helsing #1: Vampire Hunter by Rich Moyer (ISBN-13: 9780593308912 Publisher: Random House Children’s Books Publication date: 06/01/2021, Ages 8-12)

The monster hunt is on! A rip-roaring graphic novel adventure about the latest in a famous family of vampire-hunting pigs, inspired by legendary monster slayer Van Helsing!

Ham Helsing is the descendant of a long line of adventurers and monster hunters—who don’t often live to rest on their laurels. Ham has always been the odd pig out, preferring to paint or write poetry instead of inventing dangerous (dumb) new ways to catch dangerous creatures. 

His brother Chad was the daredevil carrying on the family legacy of leaping before looking, but after his death, it’s down to Ham. Reluctantly, he sets out on his first assignment, to hunt a vampire. But Ham soon learns that people aren’t always what they seem and that you need a good team around you to help save your bacon!

(POST-IT SAYS: Cute art, wacky characters and story, and fast-paced adventure will please especially those readers who like energetic silliness. Good fun!)

What Lives in the Woods by Lindsay Currie (ISBN-13: 9781728245720 Publisher: Sourcebooks Publication date: 09/14/2021, Ages 10-14)

For fans of Small Spaces and the Goosebumps series by R.L Stine comes a chilling ghost story about a girl living in the decrepit and creepy mansion, who discovers something in the woods is after her.

All Ginny Anderson wants from her summer is to sleep in, attend a mystery writing workshop, and spend time with her best friend. But when Ginny’s father—a respected restoration expert in Chicago—surprises the family with a month-long trip to Michigan, everything changes. They aren’t staying in a hotel like most families would. No, they’re staying in a mansion. A twenty-six room, century-old building surrounded by dense forest. Woodmoor Manor.

But unfortunately, the mansion has more problems than a little peeling wallpaper. Locals claim the surrounding woods are inhabited by mutated creatures with glowing eyes. And some say campers routinely disappear in the woods, never to be seen again.

As terrifying as it sounds, Ginny can’t shake the feeling that there’s something darker . . . another story she hasn’t been told. When the creaky floors and shadowy corners of the mansion seem to take on a life of their own, Ginny uncovers the wildest mystery of all: There’s more than one legend roaming Saugatuck, Michigan, and they definitely aren’t after campers.

It’s after her.

(POST-IT SAYS: We always need more scary/horror MG books! Paranormal creepiness, a mystery, and a truly spooky vibe. Great friendships/relationships and Ginny is an excellent and determined main character.)

The Many Meanings of Meilan by Andrea Wang (ISBN-13: 9780593111284 Publisher: Penguin Young Readers Group Publication date: 08/17/2021, Ages 9-12)

A family feud before the start of seventh grade propels Meilan from Boston’s Chinatown to rural Ohio, where she must tap into her inner strength and sense of justice to make a new place for herself in this resonant debut.

Meilan Hua’s world is made up of a few key ingredients: her family’s beloved matriarch, Nai Nai; the bakery her parents, aunts, and uncles own and run in Boston’s Chinatown; and her favorite Chinese fairy tales. 

After Nai Nai passes, the family has a falling-out that sends Meilan, her parents, and her grieving grandfather on the road in search of a new home. They take a winding path across the country before landing in Redbud, Ohio. Everything in Redbud is the opposite of Chinatown, and Meilan’s not quite sure who she is—being renamed at school only makes it worse. She decides she is many Meilans, each inspired by a different Chinese character with the same pronunciation as her name. Sometimes she is Mist, cooling and invisible; other times, she’s Basket, carrying her parents’ hopes and dreams and her guilt of not living up to them; and occasionally she is bright Blue, the way she feels around her new friend Logan. Meilan keeps her facets separate until an injustice at school shows her the power of bringing her many selves together. 

The Many Meanings of Meilan, written in stunning prose by Andrea Wang, is an exploration of all the things it’s possible to grieve, the injustices large and small that make us rage, and the peace that’s unlocked when we learn to find home within ourselves.

(POST-IT SAYS: What a fantastic read. Meilan’s journey through family history, new friends, racist administrators, and finding her own voice is moving, empowering, and exceedingly well written.)

Final Season by Tim Green (ISBN-13: 9780062485953 Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers Publication date: 09/14/2021, Ages 8-12)

From New York Times bestselling author and former NFL player Tim Green comes a gripping, deeply personal standalone football novel about a star middle school quarterback faced with a life-changing decision after his dad is diagnosed with ALS. Perfect for fans of Mike Lupica!

With two all-star college football players for brothers and a former Atlanta Falcons defensive lineman for a father, it is only natural for sixth-grade quarterback Benjamin Redd to follow in their footsteps.

However, after his dad receives a heartbreaking ALS diagnosis—connected to all those hard hits and tackles he took on the field—Ben’s mom becomes more determined than ever to get Ben to quit football.

Ben isn’t playing just for himself though. This might be his dad’s last chance to coach. And his teammates need a quarterback that can lead them to the championships. But as Ben watches the heavy toll ALS takes on his dad’s body, he begins to question if this should be his final season after all. 

(POST-IT SAYS: A powerful and emotional read. This tight-knit family has to rethink its dedication to playing football in the face of the father’s ALS diagnosis. A moving look at choices, perseverance, and love.)

Your Life Has Been Delayed by Michelle I. Mason (ISBN-13: 9781547604081 Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Publication date: 09/07/2021, Ages 12-17)

Past and present collide in a captivating YA debut about a girl who takes off on a flight and lands . . . twenty-five years later.

When Jenny boards her flight back from New York, the biggest things on her mind are applying to Columbia and reuniting with her brand-new boyfriend. But when she and the other passengers disembark in St. Louis, they’re told that their plane disappeared-twenty-five years ago. Everyone thought they were dead.

The world has fast-forwarded. Three of her grandparents are gone, her parents are old, and her “little” brother is now an adult. There’s so much she’s missed out on, not the least iPhones, social media, and pop culture. When some surprising information comes to light, Jenny feels betrayed by her family and once-best friend. She’s also fighting her attraction to Dylan, a cute and kind classmate who has an unusual connection to her past. And then there’s the growing contingent of conspiracy theorists determined to prove that Flight 237 hides a sinister truth. Will Jenny figure out how to move forward, or will she always be stuck in the past?

Debut author Michelle I. Mason offers a smart and funny high-concept debut about the most unbelievable of life changes-and the parts of yourself that can always stay the same.

(POST-IT SAYS: A fun thought experiment, especially to this 90s teen! A good premise full of culture shock, angst, and the weird adjustment to everyone you knew being 25 years older. Biggest themes: change and relationships.)

Drawn That Way by Elissa Sussman, Arielle Jovellanos (Illustrator) (ISBN-13: 9781534492974 Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books For Young Readers Publication date: 09/28/2021, Ages 12-18)

Moxie meets the world of animation in this fresh, unputdownable novel about a teen girl determined to prove herself in the boys’ club of her dream industry no matter what it takes.

Hayley Saffitz is confident, ambitious, and intent on following in the footsteps of her hero, renowned animation director, Bryan Beckett. When she’s given a spot in his once-in-a-lifetime summer program, Hayley devises a plan: snag one of the internship’s coveted directing opportunities. Dazzle Bryan with her talent. Secure a job post-graduation. Live her dream.

Except she doesn’t land one of the director positions. All of those go to boys. And one of them is Bryan’s son, Bear.

Despite Bear’s obvious apathy for the internship, Hayley soon realizes that there’s more to him than she expected. As they work together, the animosity between them thaws into undeniable chemistry and maybe something… more.

But Hayley can’t stop thinking about the chance she was refused.

Determined to make a name for herself, Hayley recruits the five other young women in the program to develop their own short to sneak into the film festival at the end of the summer. As the internship winds down, however, one question remains: Will Hayley conform to the expectations of her idol, or will she risk her blossoming relationship with Bear—and her future—to prove that she’s exactly as talented as she thinks she is?

(POST-IT SAYS: Loved this! Cool summer internship, feminism, animation, and friendship! Hayley is smart, passionate, and ambitious. Challenges sexism and the “boys’ club” mentality.)

I Survived the Attacks of September 11, 2001 (I Survived Graphic Novel #4) by Lauren Tarshis, Corey Egbert (Illustrator) (ISBN-13: 9781338680485 Publisher: Scholastic, Inc. Publication date: 08/03/2021, Ages 8-12)

A gripping graphic novel adaptation of Lauren Tarshis’s bestselling I Survived the Attacks of September 11, 2001, in time for the 20th anniversary of 9/11.

The only thing Lucas loves more than football is his Uncle Benny, his dad’s best friend at the firehouse where they both work. Benny taught Lucas everything about football. So when Lucas’s parents decide the sport is too dangerous and he needs to quit, Lucas has to talk to his biggest fan.

The next morning, Lucas takes the train to the city instead of the bus to school. It’s a bright, beautiful day in New York as he heads to the firehouse. But just as he arrives, everything changes — and nothing will ever be the same again.

Lauren Tarshis’s New York Times bestselling I Survived series comes to vivid life in bold graphic novels. Perfect for readers who prefer the graphic novel format, or for existing fans of the I Survived chapter book series, these graphic novels combine historical facts with high-action storytelling that’s sure to keep any reader turning the pages. Includes a nonfiction section at the back with facts and photos about the real-life event.

(POST-IT SAYS: The layout, art, and adaptation of the story are all great and so effectively convey the shock and horror of this awful day. The graphic novel format is so well suited to telling this specific story.)

Monarch Butterflies: Explore the Life Journey of One of the Winged Wonders of the World by Ann Hobbie, Olga Baumert (Illustrator) (ISBN-13: 9781635862898 Publisher: Storey Books Publication date: 04/27/2021, Ages 7-10)

Monarchs are a favorite and familiar North American butterfly, and their incredible annual migration has captured the popular imagination for generations. As populations of monarchs decline dramatically due to habitat loss and climate change, interest in and enthusiasm for protecting these beloved pollinators has skyrocketed. With easy-to-read text and colorful, engaging illustrations, Monarch Butterflies presents young readers with rich, detailed information about the monarchs’ life cycle, anatomy, and the wonders of their signature migration, as well as how to raise monarchs at home and the cultural significance of monarchs in Day of the Dead celebrations. As the book considers how human behavior has harmed monarchs, it offers substantive ways kids can help make a positive difference. Children will learn how to turn lawns into native plant gardens, become involved in citizen science efforts such as tagging migrating monarchs and participating in population counts, and support organizations that work to conserve butterflies.

(POST-IT SAYS: A stunningly beautiful and educational book. Perfect for young readers curious about the life cycle and journey of a monarch. Tips for helping, fun facts, a glossary, and additional info.)

Egg Marks the Spot (Skunk and Badger 2) by Amy Timberlake, Jon Klassen (Illustrator) (ISBN-13: 9781643750064 Publisher: Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill Publication date: 09/14/2021, Ages 7-10)

“X Marks the Spot!”

Buried in the heart of every animal is a secret treasure. For rock scientist Badger, it’s the Spider Eye Agate he found as a cub, stolen years ago by his crafty cousin, Fisher. For Badger’s roommate, Skunk, the treasure is Sundays with the New Yak Times Book Review. When an old acquaintance, Mr. G. Hedgehog, announces his plan to come for the Book Review as soon as it thumps on the doorstep, Skunk decides an adventure will solve Badger’s problems as well as his own. Surprisingly, Badger agrees. Together
they set off on an agate-finding expedition at Badger’s favorite spot on Endless Lake.

But all is not as it seems at Campsite #5. Fisher appears unexpectedly. Then a chicken arrives who seems intent on staying. Something is up!

Indeed!

Secrets, betrayals, lies

. . . and a luminous, late-Jurassic prize.

In a volume that includes full-color plates and additional black-and-white illustrations by Caldecott medalist Jon Klassen, Newbery Honor author Amy Timberlake takes readers on a second adventure in the new series reviewers have called an instant classic, with comparisons to Frog and ToadWinnie-the-Pooh, and The Wind in the Willows.

(POST-IT SAYS: There is nothing else that, to me, captures the perfection of Frog and Toad like these Skunk and Badger stories. Clever, timeless, adorable animal adventures about friendship, cohabitation, and Important Rock Work. Just the best.)

Absurd Words: A kids’ fun and hilarious vocabulary builder for future word nerds by Tara Lazar (ISBN-13: 9781492697428 Publisher: Sourcebooks Publication date: 01/02/2022, Ages 8-12)

This revolutionary dictionary-thesaurus hybrid puts more than 750 high-level, wondrous, and wacky words in fun, engaging, and hilarious context.

(POST-IT SAYS: Zarf! Ultracrepidarian! Poltroon! Just some of the new words I learned thanks to this super fun, well laid out, colorful, and useful book. All words have example sentences and some have info on roots, pop culture use, and more. A wonderful resource!)

All Pets Allowed: Blackberry Farm 2 by Adele Griffin, LeUyen Pham (Illustrator) (ISBN-13: 9781643750736 Publisher: Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill Publication date: 08/31/2021, Ages 7-11)

New dog, no tricks!

Becket Branch has one birthday wish—a dog! Dogs are outgoing and friendly, and they live life loud, just like Becket. Becket’s twin, Nicholas, wants a pet more like him—a peaceful, quiet indoor cat. When their parents take them to the shelter to choose a dog and a cat, it should be Becket’s biggest BEAUTIFUL ALERT ever. But Becket’s dream dog, Dibs, turns out to be a super-shy scaredy-pooch. Meanwhile, Nicholas’s kitty, Given, loves being the center of attention and greeting visitors to Blackberry Farm.

Can Becket and Nicholas learn how to love Dibs and Given as they are—even if they aren’t exactly the pets the twins dreamed of?

With black-and-white drawings throughout by award-winning illustrator LeUyen Pham (Real Friends), this second volume of the Blackberry Farm series offers a gentle message about embracing new friends who may not match preconceived expectations.

(POST-IT SAYS: A joyful and compassionate read. The very different twins adopt pets whose personalities best match their sibling. Together they care for their pets and each other while also spending time with friends and family. Sweet story, great art.)

Be the Dragon: 9 Keys to Unlocking Your Inner Magic by Catherine J. Manning, Melanie Demmer (Illustrator) (ISBN-13: 9781523511419 Publisher: Workman Publishing Company, Inc. Publication date: 09/14/2021, Ages 8-12)

There is magic inside you if you only dare to look.

Dragons are the heroes we need.


They have fires in their bellies, wisdom in their eyes, and hearts big enough to welcome one and all. And now you can be one, too!


In this ingenious book filled with hands-on activities, quests and quizzes, exciting stories, and charming illustrations every young reader will discover firsthand how to slay their fears and find their inner power.


How, in other words, to Be the Dragon, filled with courage, kindness, insight, compassion, positivity, and so much more.

And that is something to roar about!

(POST-IT SAYS: What a great idea! Fun quizzes, little stories, projects/crafts, and more all aimed at problem solving, kindness, self-esteem, and self-care. Full-color pages and cute art. A hit!)

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