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Post-It Note Reviews: Gary Paulsen’s memoir, Huda F Are You?, Other Boys, 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.

Gone to the Woods: Surviving a Lost Childhood by Gary Paulsen (ISBN-13: 9780374314156 Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux Publication date: 01/12/2021, Ages 12+)

“A riveting, hopeful survival story.” —Publishers Weekly, starred review

A mesmerizing memoir from a living literary legend, giving readers a new perspective on the origins of Gary Paulsen’s famed survival stories.

His name is synonymous with high-stakes wilderness survival stories. Now, beloved author Gary Paulsen portrays a series of life-altering moments from his turbulent childhood as his own original survival story. If not for his summer escape from a shockingly neglectful Chicago upbringing to a North Woods homestead at age five, there never would have been a Hatchet. Without the encouragement of the librarian who handed him his first book at age thirteen, he may never have become a reader. And without his desperate teenage enlistment in the Army, he would not have discovered his true calling as a storyteller.

An entrancing account of grit and growing up, perfect for newcomers and lifelong fans alike, this is the famed author at his rawest and most real.

(POST-IT SAYS: What a book! What a life! Deeply moving memoir of neglect, trauma, and survival. A complex and emotional read that’s just as engaging as his fiction–maybe even more so. One of my favorite reads of 2021.)

J.D. and the Hair Show Showdown by J. Dillard, Akeem S. Roberts (Illustrator) (ISBN-13: 9780593111604 Publisher: Penguin Young Readers Group Publication date: 11/16/2021 Series: J.D. the Kid Barber #3, Ages 7-10)

Eight-year-old kid barber J.D. takes his talent to an Atlanta hair show in this illustrated chapter-book series.

At only eight years old, J.D. the Kid Barber has already won a barber battle and appeared on local TV. Now he’s the youngest barber to be invited to the Beauty Brothers Hair Expo in Atlanta! J.D. gets the VIP treatment—he takes his first flight, rides in a limo for the first time, and gets gifts from the show’s sponsors. At the show, there are hair classes to take, product samples to try, and some of J.D.’s favorite hair influencers to meet. And, of course, there’s his own demo alongside kid hairstylist, Isabel Is Incredible. But what J.D. is most excited about is snapping a pic with eleven-year-old rap sensation Li’l Eazy Breezy, which is harder than it sounds! The world of hair and beauty is so much bigger than J.D. could’ve imagined, and he’s ready to step up his game.

Check out the other chapter books in the J.D. the Kid Barber series:
J.D. and the Great Barber Battle
J.D. and the Family Business

(POST-IT SAYS: Loved this! J.D. is living his best life and so full of joy and enthusiasm. Large illustrations convey those feelings and give readers a look at J.D.’s amazing time at the hair expo. Quick, go order this series!)

Bad Sister by Charise Mericle Harper, Rory Lucey (Illustrator) (ISBN-13: 9781250219053 Publisher: First Second Publication date: 09/14/2021, Ages 8-12)

This middle grade graphic memoir by Charise Mericle Harper, featuring illustrations by Rory Lucey, follows a young girl who undergoes a crisis of conscience, realizing that she is a “bad sister.”

Meet Charise.

She’s energetic, helpful, a model pet owner and full of inventions.

But she’s also a bad sister. When she goes too far and breaks little brother Daniel’s tooth, can she redeem herself? Is an accident really an accident if you could have stopped it? 

But most importantly… What does it mean to be a good sister?

(POST-IT SAYS: Reckless and often mean Charise doesn’t want to be a bad sister, but just can’t help herself. Her badness is the usual stuff of growing up, but leaves lasting impressions and creates real change. Perfect for fans of Hale, Holm, and Telgemeier.)

The 1619 Project: Born on the Water by Nikole Hannah-Jones, Renée Watson, Nikkolas Smith (Illustrator) (ISBN-13: 9780593307359 Publisher: Penguin Young Readers Group Publication date: 11/16/2021, Ages 7-10)

The 1619 Project’s lyrical picture book in verse chronicles the consequences of slavery and the history of Black resistance in the United States, thoughtfully rendered by Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Nikole Hannah-Jones and Newbery honor-winning author Renée Watson. 

A young student receives a family tree assignment in school, but she can only trace back three generations. Grandma gathers the whole family, and the student learns that 400 years ago, in 1619, their ancestors were stolen and brought to America by white slave traders. 
But before that, they had a home, a land, a language. She learns how the people said to be born on the water survived.

And the people planted dreams and hope,
willed themselves to keep
living, living.

And the people learned new words
for love
for friend
for family

for joy
for grow
for home.

With powerful verse and striking illustrations by Nikkolas Smith, Born on the Water provides a pathway for readers of all ages to reflect on the origins of American identity.

(POST-IT SAYS: Profoundly moving. A beautiful book that’s a lyrical ode to strength, origins, ancestry, dreams, and pride. Stunning and full of emotion. This is not to be missed.)

Huda F Are You? by Huda Fahmy (ISBN-13: 9780593324318 Publisher: Penguin Young Readers Group Publication date: 11/23/2021, Ages 12-17)

From the creator of Yes, I’m Hot In This, this cheeky, hilarious, and honest graphic novel asks the question everyone has to figure out for themselves: Who are you?

Huda and her family just moved to Dearborn, Michigan, a small town with a big Muslim population. In her old town, Huda knew exactly who she was: She was the hijabi girl. But in Dearborn, everyone is the hijabi girl.

Huda is lost in a sea of hijabis, and she can’t rely on her hijab to define her anymore. She has to define herself. So she tries on a bunch of cliques, but she isn’t a hijabi fashionista or a hijabi athlete or a hijabi gamer. She’s not the one who knows everything about her religion or the one all the guys like. She’s miscellaneous, which makes her feel like no one at all. Until she realizes that it’ll take finding out who she isn’t to figure out who she is.

(POST-IT SAYS: One million more books about Huda and her family—especially that “invisible” sister—please! Great look at identity, personality, and acceptance. Heavy issues are addressed and balanced out by bright, cartoonish art and plenty of humor.)

Born Behind Bars by Padma Venkatraman (ISBN-13: 9780593112472 Publisher: Penguin Young Readers Group Publication date: 09/07/2021, Ages 10-14)

“Venkatraman has never met a heavy theme she did not like….Borrowing elements of fable, it’s told with a recurring sense of awe by a boy whom the world, for most of his life, has existed only in stories.”—New York Times Book Review 

The author of the award-winning The Bridge Home brings readers another gripping novel set in Chennai, India, featuring a boy who’s unexpectedly released into the world after spending his whole life in jail with his mom.

Kabir has been in jail since the day he was born, because his mom is serving time for a crime she didn’t commit. He’s never met his dad, so the only family he’s got are their cellmates, and the only place he feels the least bit free is in the classroom, where his kind teacher regales him with stories of the wonders of the outside world. Then one day a new warden arrives and announces Kabir is too old to stay. He gets handed over to a long-lost “uncle” who unfortunately turns out to be a fraud, and intends to sell Kabir. So Kabir does the only thing he can–run away as fast as his legs will take him. How does a boy with nowhere to go and no connections make his way? Fortunately, he befriends Rani, another street kid, and she takes him under her wing. But plotting their next move is hard–and fraught with danger–in a world that cares little for homeless, low caste children. This is not the world Kabir dreamed of–but he’s discovered he’s not the type to give up. Kabir is ready to show the world that he–and his mother–deserve a place in it.

(POST-IT SAYS: Pretty dark subject matter and perilous situations, but the fast-pace and can-do attitude keep it from feeling too heavy. Examines poverty, caste, religion, and incarceration. A complex story full of adventure and of hope.)

Katie the Catsitter by Colleen AF Venable, Stephanie Yue (Illustrator) (ISBN-13: 9781984895639 Publisher: Random House Children’s Books Publication date: 01/05/2021 Series: Katie the Catsitter #1, Ages 8-12)

Calling all Raina Telgemeier fans! Introducing an irresistible new middle-grade graphic novel series about growing up, friendship, heroes, and cats (lots of cats!)–perfect for fans of GutsAwkward and Real Friends (not to mention anyone who loves cats!)

Katie is dreading the boring summer ahead while her best friends are all away at camp–something that’s way out of Katie and her mom’s budget, UNLESS Katie can figure out a way to earn the money for camp herself. But when Katie gets a job catsitting for her mysterious upstairs neighbor, life get interesting. First, Madeline has 217 cats (!) and they’re not exactly . . . normal cats. Also, why is Madeline always out EXACTLY when the city’s most notorious villain commits crimes?! Is it possible that Katie’s upstairs neighbor is really a super villain? Can Katie wrangle a whole lot of wayward cats, save a best friendship (why is Beth barely writing back? And who’s this boy she keeps talking about?!), AND crack the biggest story in the city’s history? Some heroes have capes . . . Katie has cats!

(POST-IT SAYS: I’m obsessed! 217 cats! Superheroes! Activism! A diverse cast of characters! I loved all the details in the art, especially with those busy cats. Full of whimsy, humor, justice, and CATS!)

The Daily Bark: The Puppy Problem by Laura James (ISBN-13: 9781547608812 Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Publication date: 01/11/2022, Ages 7-10)

The first book in a charming new chapter book series about enterprising young pups who start a neighborhood newspaper, for fans of The Secret Life of Pets.

Gizmo is a city dog, so when he moves to the village of Puddle with his journalist human, he doesn’t know WHAT to expect. Certainly not FLOWERS. Or BEES. And he couldn’t have even imagined MUD. Luckily he’s got Jilly, the wolfhound next door, to show him around. 

But Jilly has a problem. Her puppies are going to be adopted by new owners who live far away — she’ll never see them again! Gizmo has got a nose for a story, and a great idea to help Jilly. What if the dogs of Puddle started a newspaper to get the word out and keep these pups closer to home? Stop the presses!

Perfect for fans of The Secret Life of Pets, this is the first book in a charming and humorous new chapter book series — featuring full-color illustrations — about the things dogs get up to when their humans aren’t looking.

(POST-IT SAYS: So cute I can hardly stand it! Sweet doxie Gizmo and his new friends live busy lives of jobs, caretaking, and adventure. I look forward to more Daily Bark stories!)

Other Boys by Damian Alexander (ISBN-13: 9781250222817 Publisher: First Second Publication date: 09/28/2021, Ages 10-14)

In Other Boys, debut author Damian Alexander delivers a moving middle grade graphic memoir about his struggles with bullying, the death of his mother, and coming out.

Damian is the new kid at school, and he has a foolproof plan to avoid the bullying that’s plagued him his whole childhood: he’s going to stop talking. Starting on the first day seventh grade, he won’t utter a word. If he keeps his mouth shut, the bullies will have nothing to tease him about—right?

But Damian’s vow of silence doesn’t work—his classmates can tell there’s something different about him. His family doesn’t look like the kind on TV: his mother is dead, his father is gone, and he’s being raised by his grandparents in a low-income household. And Damian does things that boys aren’t supposed do, like play with Barbies instead of GI Joe. Kids have teased him about this his whole life, especially other boys. But if boys can be so cruel, why does Damian have a crush on one?

(POST-IT SAYS: What an empathetic and tender story. All about gender, sexuality, family, bullies, and trauma. A really lovely look at how difficult childhood can be for so many reasons.)

Besties: Work It Out by Kayla Miller, Jeffrey Canino, Kristina Luu (Illustrator) (ISBN-13: 9780358521150 Publisher: HMH Books Publication date: 10/19/2021 Series: World of Click Series, Ages 8-12)

A fun and fresh graphic-novel series spin-off of the New York Times best-selling Click books, featuring aspiring entrepreneurs Beth and Chanda! When the girls land a lucrative dogsitting gig, they’re sure that fame, fortune, and popularity can’t be far behind, but nothing can prepare them for the mishap that throws their business plan—and friendship—into chaos!
 
Meet Beth and Chanda, two stylish best friends on their way to building their fashion empire! An unexpected business opportunity presents itself when the girls are asked to dogsit at Ms. Langford’s luxurious house while she’s away, but it quickly turns into a disaster after an accident leaves one of Ms. Langford’s prized possessions in pieces! Now Beth and Chanda have to take on as many odd jobs as they can in order to afford a replacement. Car washing, book sales, interior decorating—you name it, Beth and Chanda are there! Will they be able to patch up their mistake in time?
 
New York Times best-selling author Kayla Miller and co-author Jeffrey Canino deliver a vibrant and honest story about middle school friendships and personal responsibility. Accompanied by Kristina Luu’s fizzy, expressive art style, this graphic novel is the perfect companion to Olive’s existing stories.

(POST-IT SAYS: Great to see two kids working odd jobs to make money and learning lessons about responsibility along the way. I hope we see more stories about the characters from the Click series.)

Post-It Note Reviews: Flying pigs, witches, chronic illness, money management, 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.

Batpig: When Pigs Fly by Rob Harrell (ISBN-13: 9780593354155 Publisher: Penguin Young Readers Group Publication date: 11/09/2021, Ages 7-10)

Introducing a supremely hilarious graphic novel featuring an unstoppable, super-swine hero who boldly fights for justice . . . in between taking mud baths and eating tasty sandwiches.

Gary Yorkshire was your perfectly average, fuzzy pink pig who loved tasty sandwiches, video games, mud baths, and hanging out with his friends Carl the fish and Brooklyn the bat. Until one day . . . a radioactive bat bite gives him powers he never would have dreamed of! Inspired by his old Crimson Swine comics, Gary decides that he’ll use his powers for good and becomes (drumroll) Batpig! Now he just needs a good zinger of a Batpig slogan, a spandex costume that flatters his rear end . . . and maybe a little advice about how in the world to defeat supervillains?

(POST-IT SAYS: Hand this to kids endlessly rereading the Dog Man series. Lots of wacky hijinks, silly characters, and humor. The big, bright panels of art add a lot of detail and action to an already fast-paced series.)

The Sleepover by Michael Regina (ISBN-13: 9780593117361 Publisher: Penguin Young Readers Group Publication date: 11/09/2021, Ages 8-12)

Perfect for fans of Stranger Things, this middle grade graphic novel follows a group of kids trying to cheer up their friend after a recent loss with a fun-filled sleepover, but their plans soon take a dark turn when they discover his new nanny may literally be a monster.

When the Russo family returns home from vacation to discover their nanny, Ruby, has unexpectedly passed away, Matthew takes the news the hardest. After weeks of reeling, his three best friends decide to cheer him up with a night of junk food, prank calls, and scary movies. But their plans for a sleepover are jeopardized when Matt’s single mother—unable to take any more time off of work—is forced to hire a new nanny on the fly to watch over Matt and his younger sister, Judy.

Miss Swan, however, is all too happy to have the boys over. And although she seems like the perfect babysitter, letting the kids eat whatever they want and mostly leaving them alone, there’s something about her that Matt doesn’t trust. He thinks she may actually be the witch from local legend—the one who torments children into the night and then eats them. Is he just having a hard time dealing with Ruby’s replacement, as his friends suspect? Has he watched one too many scary movies, as his mom fears? Or are he and his horror-buff friends in for the fright of their lives as they come face-to-face with a real monster?

(POST-IT SAYS: Set in 1993, this is a creepy, horror-inspired graphic novel that actually is all about grief and loss. A satisfyingly lengthy read full of atmospheric art and plenty of action.)

Saving Sorya: Chang and the Sun Bear by Trang Nguyen, Jeet Zdung (ISBN-13: 9780593353622 Publisher: Penguin Young Readers Group Publication date: 09/14/2021, Ages 8-12)

* “Nguyen’s heartfelt tale is perfect for animal-loving fans of Katherine Applegate’s The One and Only Ivan and Rosanne Parry’s A Wolf Called Wander.”—School Library Journal, starred review

A middle grade graphic novel adventure based on a true story, in which a young conservationist overcomes the odds to save and return a sun bear to its natural habitat. 

When endlessly curious and tenacious Chang discovers a bear bile farm near her home in Vietnam, she decides to do everything she can to save wild animals—by becoming a conservationist! After teaching herself survival skills, documenting each rainforest plant and animal she sees in her field notebook, and disproving the critics who think she isn’t old enough or strong enough, Chang is finally accepted as a rescue center volunteer. But her toughest challenge yet comes when she’s tasked with returning Soryathe sun bear she raised from infancyback into the wild. Because despite being a different species, Sorya is Chang’s bestfriend. And letting a friend go is neve reasy . . . even when it’s the right thing to do.

With breathtaking art and STEM facts galore, Chang’s daring story is for any young reader, animal lover, and intrepid explorer!

(POST-IT SAYS: A fascinating and heart-warming story that’s visually unlike most recent graphic novels. Animal fans will love Chang and Sorya’s unique relationship. Beautiful illustrations with so much detail to enjoy, too!)

With Great Power: The Marvelous Stan Lee by Annie Hunter Eriksen, Lee Gatlin (Illustrator) (ISBN-13: 9781645672852 Publisher: Page Street Publishing Publication date: 10/19/2021, Ages 4-8)

Every superhero has their origin story: a radioactive spider bite turns ordinary teen Peter Parker into Spider-Man, wealthy Tony Stark escapes captivity by building his Iron Man suit, scientist Bruce Banner survives gamma rays only to transform into the Hulk. 

For Stan Lee, it was books of adventure, monsters, and magic that helped him transform from an ordinary boy to a superstar superhero creator. At first, reading these stories was a pathway to a world bigger than his family’s tiny apartment in New York City, but it wasn’t long until Stan was crafting his own stories, creating comics professionally when he was still just a teenager! Still, writing wasn’t exciting when the heroes were always the same: strong, perfect, and boring. Stan had a revolutionary idea. What if anyone—even an ordinary kid—could be a superhero?

Discover more about the life of the Cameo King, known to many for his appearances in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and how he revolutionized comics with this vibrant introduction bustling with action, humor, and references for fans new and old. ‘Nuff said!

(POST-IT SAYS: I absolutely love the art in this book that’s perfect for young Marvel fans and aspiring comic book creators. A cute, lively love letter to a comics icon and to creativity itself.)

Some Days: A Tale of Love, Ice Cream, and My Mom’s Chronic Illness by Julie A. Stamm, Chamisa Kellogg (Illustrator) (ISBN-13: 9781615198108 Publisher: The Experiment Publication date: 10/26/2021, Ages 2-5)

Wyatt’s mom Rosie has MS, but nothing can stop their adventures, big and small!

Even when Wyatt’s mom isn’t feeling her best, he still thinks she’s a superhero! Rosie and Wyatt go on adventures every day: On sleepy days, they build a cozy pillow fort just for two. On wobbly days, Wyatt gets out Rosie’s magical walking stick and they cast spells on his toys. And on one super-special day, the whole family heads to town for the big “funraiser”!

Warm and uplifting, Some Days is the perfect story to share with your child about life with multiple sclerosis—or any chronic illness. Although some days are fast and some are slow, Rosie and Wyatt fill each one with love, excitement, and fun . . . not to mention ice cream!

(POST-IT SAYS: A valuable look at what it’s like to live with a chronic illness—specifically MS. A loving, factual look at how it affects day-to-day life.)

Make Your Own Money: How Kids Can Earn It, Save It, Spend It, and Dream Big, with Danny Dollar, the King of Cha-Ching by Ty Allan Jackson, Nicole Miles (Illustrator) (ISBN-13: 9781635863710 Publisher: Storey Books Publication date: 10/26/2021, Ages 8-12)

Saving money for something? Then this is the book for you! Danny Dollar, the “King of Cha-Ching,” will teach you to make money, save money, and spend money wisely—and to dream big! Maybe you get an allowance (clean the bathroom anyone?) or have been gifted money (birthday present?) but did you know that you can actually start a business and make your own money? Even as a kid! It’s called being an entrepreneur.

Danny shares tips for starting your own business, like how to write a business plan and raise start-up money (the money you need to get your business going).


Plus, you’ll learn how to open a bank account, create a budget, invest, and donate money. Danny will even introduce you to real life kids who are making their own money—and lots of it. Free yourself from having to ask your parents for money, and start making your own today!

(POST-IT SAYS: With abundant full-color illustrations and a conversational tone, a semi-boring subject jumps to life. A great resource! Filled with facts, tips, and ways to brainstorm. Worksheets encourage business planning and budgeting.)

Lifetime Passes by Terry Blas, Claudia Aguirre (Illustrator) (ISBN-13: 9781419746673 Publisher: Abrams ComicArts – Surely Publication date: 11/23/2021, Ages 12-18)

In this darkly comedic YA graphic novel, a group of teens starts a program to bring senior citizens to a local theme park to take advantage of the unofficial park policy: If someone dies on the property, the rest of their party is given lifetime passes!

Sixteen-year-old Jackie Chavez loves her local amusement park, Kingdom Adventure, maybe more than anything else in the world. The park is all she and her friends Nikki, Daniel, and Berke—although they aren’t always the greatest friends—talk about. Kingdom Adventure is where all Jackie’s best memories are, and it’s where she feels safe and happy. This carries even more weight now that Jackie’s parents have been deported and forced to go back to Mexico, leaving Jackie in the United States with her Tía Gina, who she works with at the Valley Care Living seniors’ home. When Gina tells Jackie that they can’t afford a season pass for next summer, Jackie is crushed. But on her next trip to Kingdom Adventure, she discovers a strictly protectedsecret: If a member of their party dies at the park, the rest of their group gets free lifetime passes.

Jackie and her friends hatch a plot to bring seniors from Valley Care Living to the park using a fake volunteer program, with the hopes that one of the residents will croak during their visit. The ruse quickly gets its first volunteer—a feisty resident named Phyllis.

What starts off as a macabre plan turns into a revelation for Jackie as Phyllis and the other seniors reveal their own complex histories and connections to Kingdom Adventure, as well as some tough-to-swallow truths about Jackie, her friends, and their future.

With artist Claudia Aguirre, Terry Blas has crafted a graphic novel that is dark and deeply moving. This book is Cocoon meets Heathers—a twisted satire about a magical land and the people who love it, even to the point of obsession. Jackie’s summer is about to turn into a wild ride filled with gallows humor, friendship, and fun—or is it?

(POST-IT SAYS: “Darkly comedic” is right! Love the depth and connection that comes from the eventual intergenerational friendships. Also love that Jackie and Danny realize how awful their other friends are! Dynamic artwork conveys lots of emotions and enhances the story.)

The Art of Running Away by Sabrina Kleckner (ISBN-13: 9781631635779 Publisher: North Star Editions Publication date: 11/16/2021, Ages 8-14)

Twelve-year-old Maisie is an artist. When she’s in front of her sketchbook or apprenticing at Glenna’s Portraits, the family-run art shop her grandmother started, the world makes sense. She doesn’t think about Calum, her brother who mysteriously left home and cut ties with her family six years ago, or her parents’ insistence that she “broaden her horizons” and try something new—something that isn’t art.

But when Glenna’s Portraits falls on hard times, Maisie’s plan to take over the shop when she’s older and become a lifelong artist starts to crumble. In desperation to make things right, Maisie runs away to London to reconnect with her adult brother, hoping he might be the key to saving the shop. But as Maisie learns about her family’s past from Calum, she starts to rethink everything she’s ever known. Maisie must decide not only if saving her family’s art shop is worth it, but if she can forgive her parents for the mistakes they’ve made.

(POST-IT SAYS: A great read. Deep family issues are explored in a way that feels realistic, complicated, and ultimately loving. Lots of LGBTQIA+ rep. Maisie really wrestles with her feelings toward her parents as she grows closer to her estranged brother.)

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!)

Post-It Note Reviews: Evacuated siblings, allergies, Houdini, a dead body in a freezer, 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.

The Best Worst Summer by Elizabeth Eulberg (ISBN-13: 9781547601509 Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Publication date: 05/04/2021, Ages 8-12)

From the acclaimed author of The Great Shelby Holmes comes a new middle grade story about two summers-three decades apart-and the box of secrets linking them together.

This is going to be the worst summer ever for Peyton. Her family just moved, and she had to leave her best friend behind. She’s lonely. She’s bored. Until . . . she comes across a box buried in her backyard, with a message: I’m so sorry. Please forgive me. Things are about to get interesting.

Back in 1989, it’s going to be the best summer ever for Melissa and Jessica. They have two whole months to goof around and explore, and they’re even going to bury a time capsule! But when one girl’s family secret starts to unravel, it’s clear things may not go exactly as planned.

In alternating chapters, from Peyton in present day to Melissa three decades earlier (a time with no cell phones, no social media, and camera film that took days to develop, but also a whole lot of freedom), beloved author Elizabeth Eulberg tells the story of a mystery that two sets of memorable characters will never forget.

(POST-IT SAYS: Set in the now and also in summer 1989 (when I too lived in small town MN and was heading into 6th grade). Satisfying read about friendship, change, families, and enough intrigue with the 1989 time capsule plot to keep the story moving.)

Six Feet Below Zero by Ena Jones (ISBN-13: 9780823446223 Publisher: Holiday House Publication date: 04/20/2021, Ages 8-12)

A dead body. A missing will. An evil relative. The good news is, Great Grammy has a plan. The bad news is, she’s the dead body.

Rosie and Baker are hiding something. Something big. Their great grandmother made them promise to pretend she’s alive until they find her missing will and get it in the right hands. The will protects the family house from their grandmother, Grim Hesper, who would sell it and ship Rosie and Baker off to separate boarding schools. They’ve already lost their parents and Great Grammy—they can’t lose each other, too.

The siblings kick it into high gear to locate the will, keep their neighbors from prying, and safeguard the house. Rosie has no time to cope with her grief as disasters pop up around every carefully planned corner. She can’t even bring herself to read her last-ever letter from Great Grammy. But the lies get bigger and bigger as Rosie and Baker try to convince everyone that their great grandmother is still around, and they’ll need more than a six-month supply of frozen noodle casserole and mountains of toilet paper once their wicked grandmother shows up!

This unexpectedly touching read reminds us that families are weird and wonderful, even when they’re missing their best parts. With humor, suspense, and a testament to loyalty, Ena Jones takes two brave kids on an unforgettable journey. Includes four recipes for Great Grammy’s survival treats.

(POST-IT SAYS: Great fun. Give this to readers who like hijinks, family-member-as-villain, racing against time, and can handle a plot that revolves around kids putting their dead great-grandma in a freezer! Fast-paced with great characters.)

A Place to Hang the Moon by Kate Albus (ISBN-13: 9780823447053 Publisher: Holiday House Publication date: 02/02/2021, Ages 9-12)

For fans of The War That Saved My Life and other World War II fiction, A Place to Hang the Moon is the tale of three orphaned siblings who are evacuated from London to live in the countryside with the secret hope of finding a permanent family.

It is 1940 and William, 12, Edmund, 11, and Anna, 9, aren’t terribly upset by the death of the not-so-grandmotherly grandmother who has taken care of them since their parents died. But the children do need a guardian, and in the dark days of World War II London, those are in short supply, especially if they hope to stay together. Could the mass wartime evacuation of children from London to the countryside be the answer? 

It’s a preposterous plan, but off they go— keeping their predicament a secret, and hoping to be placed in a temporary home that ends up lasting forever. Moving from one billet to another, the children suffer the cruel trickery of foster brothers, the cold realities of outdoor toilets and the hollowness of empty stomachs. They find comfort in the village lending library, whose kind librarian, Nora Müller, seems an excellent choice of billet, except that her German husband’s whereabouts are currently unknown, and some of the villagers consider her unsuitable. 


A Place to Hang the Moon is a story about the dire importance of family: the one you’re given, and the one you choose. 

(POST-IT SAYS: A delight, especially for bookworms. Vivid characters and strong writing will immediately rope in readers. The orphaned evacuees go through some rough times but always have each other—and books. A wonderful read.)

The Chance to Fly by Ali Stroker, Stacy Davidowitz (ISBN-13: 9781419743931 Publisher: Amulet Books Publication date: 04/13/2021, Ages 8-12)

A heartfelt middle-grade novel about a theater-loving girl who uses a wheelchair for mobility and her quest to defy expectations—and gravity—from Tony award–winning actress Ali Stroker and Stacy Davidowitz

Thirteen-year-old Nat Beacon loves a lot of things: her dog Warbucks, her best friend Chloe, and competing on her wheelchair racing team, the Zoomers, to name a few. But there’s one thing she’s absolutely OBSESSED with: MUSICALS! From Hamilton to Les Mis, there’s not a cast album she hasn’t memorized and belted along to. She’s never actually been in a musical though, or even seen an actor who uses a wheelchair for mobility on stage. Would someone like Nat ever get cast?
But when Nat’s family moves from California to New Jersey, Nat stumbles upon auditions for a kids’ production of Wicked, one of her favorite musicals ever! And she gets into the ensemble! The other cast members are super cool and inclusive (well, most of them)— especially Malik, the male lead and cutest boy Nat’s ever seen. But when things go awry a week before opening night, will Nat be able to cast her fears and insecurities aside and “Defy Gravity” in every sense of the song title?

(POST-IT SAYS: Another great book for theater kids—and everyone else! Nat and her new friends are great and both Nat’s desire for more independence and her adjustment to the move are relatable. Great to see a main character who uses a wheelchair, too!)

Allergic by Megan Wagner Lloyd, Michelle Mee Nutter (Illustrator) (ISBN-13: 9781338568912 Publisher: Scholastic, Inc. Publication date: 03/02/2021, Ages 8-12)

A semiautobiographical coming-of-age middle-grade graphic novel featuring a girl with severe allergies who just wants to find the perfect pet!

At home, Maggie is the odd one out. Her parents are preoccupied with the new baby they’re expecting, and her younger brothers are twins and always in their own world. Maggie thinks a new puppy is the answer, but when she goes to select one on her birthday, she breaks out in hives and rashes. She’s severely allergic to anything with fur!

Can Maggie outsmart her allergies and find the perfect pet? With illustrations by Michelle Mee Nutter, Megan Wagner Lloyd draws on her own childhood to tell a heartfelt story of family, friendship, and finding a place to belong.

(POST-IT SAYS: An easy hit with wide appeal. Deals with changing families and friendships as much as it does with allergies. At Maggie’s age, I too lived at the allergist and would’ve loved being able to relate to this book.)

Violet and the Pie of Life by Debra Green (ISBN-13: 9780823447558 Publisher: Holiday House Publication date: 03/09/2021, Ages 8-12)

There’s no golden ratio for a family, despite what number-crunching Violet might think.

Twelve-year-old Violet has two great loves in her life: math and pie. And she loves her parents, even though her mom never stops nagging and her dad can be unreliable. Mom plus Dad doesn’t equal perfection. Still, Violet knows her parents could solve their problems if they just applied simple math. 

#1: Adjust the ratio of Mom’s nagging to her compliments. 
#2: Multiply Dad’s funny stories by a factor of three. 
#3: Add in romantic stuff wherever possible. 

But when her dad walks out, Violet realizes that the odds do not look good. Why can’t her parents get along like popular, perfect Ally’s parents? Would it be better to have no dad at all, like her best friend, McKenzie? Violet is considering the data when she and Ally get cast in the school play, and McKenzie doesn’t—a probability that Violet never calculated. Maybe friendship and family have more variables than she thought.

Filled with warmth, math-y humor, and delicious pie, this heartfelt middle grade read is perfect for fans of The Miscalculations of Lightning Girl. Includes illustrated charts, graphs, and diagrams throughout.

(POST-IT SAYS: Lots to relate to here—new friendships, divorcing parents, characters raised by grandparents, and typical middle school drama and change. Violet’s many charts and diagrams give the story added appeal. Vi really grows as a character over the story. A solid read.)

Houdini and Me by Dan Gutman (ISBN-13: 9780823445158 Publisher: Holiday House Publication date: 03/02/2021, Ages 8-12)

Harry has always admired the famous escape artist Houdini. And when Houdini asks for help in coming back to life, it seems like an amazing chance…or could it be Houdini’s greatest trick of all?

Eleven-year-old Harry Mancini is NOT Harry Houdini—the famous escape artist who died in 1926. But Harry DOES live in Houdini’s old New York City home, and he definitely knows everything there is to know about Houdini’s life. What is he supposed to do, then, when someone starts texting him claiming that they’re Houdini, communicating from beyond the grave? Respond, of course.

It’s hard for Harry to believe that Houdini is really contacting him, but this Houdini texts the secrets to all of the escape tricks the dead Houdini used to do. What’s more, Houdini’s offering Harry a chance to go back in time and experience it for himself. Should Harry ignore what must be a hoax? Or should he give it a try and take Houdini up on this death-defying offer? 

Dan Gutman is the award-winning author of series including My Weird SchoolThe Genius Files, and the baseball card series, including Honus & Me. He uses his writing powers for good once again in this exciting new middle grade novel.

(POST-IT SAYS: Can’t go wrong with Dan Gutman! Readers will learn a ton about Houdini and the secrets of his tricks. Photos add to the story. Lots of dialogue, action, and humor. A hit!)

Deadman’s Castle by Iain Lawrence (ISBN-13: 9780823446551 Publisher: Holiday House Publication date: 03/02/2021, Ages 9-12)

For most of his life, Igor and his family have been on the run. Danger lurks around every corner—or so he’s always been told. . . . 

When Igor was five, his father witnessed a terrible crime—and ever since, his whole family has been hunted by a foreboding figure bent on revenge, known only as the Lizard Man. They’ve lived in so many places, with so many identities, that Igor can’t even remember his real name. 

But now he’s twelve years old, and he longs for a normal life. He wants to go to school. Make friends. Stop worrying about how long it will be before his father hears someone prowling around their new house and uproots everything yet again. He’s even starting to wonder—what if the Lizard Man only exists in his father’s frightened mind?

Slowly, Igor starts bending the rules he’s lived by all his life—making friends for the first time, testing the boundaries of where he’s allowed to go in town. But soon, he begins noticing strange things around them—is it in his imagination? Or could the Lizard Man be real after all? 

Iain Lawrence is a winner of Canada’s Governor General’s Children’s Literature Prize and the California Young Reader Medal. In Deadman’s Castle, he brings readers a mystery filled with intrigue and moments of heart-stopping danger. 

(POST-IT SAYS: Satisfyingly creepy and suspenseful mystery about a family on the run. Lots of action, claustrophobic rules, and a main character determined to learn the truth.)

Post-It Note Reviews: Books about gentrification, Black boyhood, time travel, the Greenwood Massacre, 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!

All descriptions from the publishers. Transcriptions of the Post-It notes are below each description.

Take Back the Block by Chrystal D. Giles (ISBN-13: 9780593175170 Publisher: Random House Children’s Books Publication date: 01/26/2021, Ages 8-12)

Brand-new kicks, ripped denim shorts, Supreme tee

Wes Henderson has the best style in sixth grade. That—and hanging out with his crew (his best friends since little-kid days) and playing video games—is what he wants to be thinking about at the start of the school year, not the protests his parents are always dragging him to.

But when a real estate developer makes an offer to buy Kensington Oaks, the neighborhood Wes has lived his whole life, everything changes. The grownups are supposed to have all the answers, but all they’re doing is arguing. Even Wes’s best friends are fighting. And some of them may be moving. Wes isn’t about to give up the only home he’s ever known. Wes has always been good at puzzles, and he knows there has to be a missing piece that will solve this puzzle and save the Oaks. But can he find it . . . before it’s too late?

Exploring community, gentrification, justice, and friendship, Take Back the Block introduces an irresistible 6th grader and asks what it means to belong—to a place and a movement—and to fight for what you believe in.

(POST-IT SAYS: A great look at gentrification, community, activism, social justice, and friendship. Wes and friends don’t always say or do the right thing, but ultimately are there for each other. Great narration and vivid characters.)

You Have a Match by Emma Lord (ISBN-13: 9781250237309 Publisher: St. Martin’s Publishing Group Publication date: 01/12/2021, Ages 12-18)

A new love, a secret sister, and a summer she’ll never forget.

From the beloved author of Tweet Cute comes Emma Lord’s You Have a Match, a hilarious and heartfelt novel of romance, sisterhood, and friendship…

When Abby signs up for a DNA service, it’s mainly to give her friend and secret love interest, Leo, a nudge. After all, she knows who she is already: Avid photographer. Injury-prone tree climber. Best friend to Leo and Connie…although ever since the B.E.I. (Big Embarrassing Incident) with Leo, things have been awkward on that front.

But she didn’t know she’s a younger sister.

When the DNA service reveals Abby has a secret sister, shimmery-haired Instagram star Savannah Tully, it’s hard to believe they’re from the same planet, never mind the same parents — especially considering Savannah, queen of green smoothies, is only a year and a half older than Abby herself.

The logical course of action? Meet up at summer camp (obviously) and figure out why Abby’s parents gave Savvy up for adoption. But there are complications: Savvy is a rigid rule-follower and total narc. Leo is the camp’s co-chef, putting Abby’s growing feelings for him on blast. And her parents have a secret that threatens to unravel everything.

But part of life is showing up, leaning in, and learning to fit all your awkward pieces together. Because sometimes, the hardest things can also be the best ones. 

(POST-IT SAYS: An overall sweet read about family, friendship, and romance with an engaging voice and fun summer camp setting that requires a good suspension of disbelief. Will appeal to those who like drama in their stories. Adding that this is not a really great depiction of adoption from any angle—and Leo’s transracial adoption story is largely ignored.)

Concrete Rose by Angie Thomas (ISBN-13: 9780062846716 Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers Publication date: 01/12/2021, Ages 14-17)

International phenomenon Angie Thomas revisits Garden Heights seventeen years before the events of The Hate U Give in this searing and poignant exploration of Black boyhood and manhood.

If there’s one thing seventeen-year-old Maverick Carter knows, it’s that a real man takes care of his family. As the son of a former gang legend, Mav does that the only way he knows how: dealing for the King Lords. With this money he can help his mom, who works two jobs while his dad’s in prison.

Life’s not perfect, but with a fly girlfriend and a cousin who always has his back, Mav’s got everything under control.

Until, that is, Maverick finds out he’s a father.

Suddenly he has a baby, Seven, who depends on him for everything. But it’s not so easy to sling dope, finish school, and raise a child. So when he’s offered the chance to go straight, he takes it. In a world where he’s expected to amount to nothing, maybe Mav can prove he’s different.

When King Lord blood runs through your veins, though, you can’t just walk away. Loyalty, revenge, and responsibility threaten to tear Mav apart, especially after the brutal murder of a loved one. He’ll have to figure out for himself what it really means to be a man.

(POST-IT SAYS: No surprise that this was great. A powerful look at family, loss, belonging, love, aspiration, and choices. Loved to learn Mav’s story and see familiar characters along the way.)

Every Single Lie by Rachel Vincent (ISBN-13: 9781547605231 Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Publication date: 01/12/2021, Ages 14-18)

In this gripping YA novel about social media bullying and half-truths, one girl’s shocking discovery of a dead baby in her high school locker room rocks an entire community.

Nobody in sixteen-year-old Beckett’s life seems to be telling the whole story. Her boyfriend Jake keeps hiding texts, which could mean he’s cheating on her. Her father lied about losing his job and so much more before his shocking death. And everyone in school seems to be whispering about her and her family behind her back.

But none of that compares to the day Beckett finds the body of a newborn baby in a gym bag—Jake’s gym bag—on the floor of her high school locker room. As word leaks out, rumors that Beckett’s the mother take off like wildfire in a town all too ready to believe the worst of her.

Beckett soon finds herself facing threats and accusations both heartbreaking and dangerous. Nobody believes her side of the story, and as the police investigation unfolds, she discovers that everyone has a secret to hide and the truth could alter everything she thought she knew.

A page-turning thriller set in a small Southern community, Every Single Lie is a jaw-dropping, twisty must-read for fans of Sadie.

(POST-IT SAYS: A solid read that will appeal to those that like stories where horrible things happen. The mystery of the dead baby’s parents will keep readers engaged. Action-packed.)

The Afterlife of the Party by Marlene Perez (ISBN-13: 9781640639027 Publisher: Entangled Publishing, LLC Publication date: 02/02/2021 Series: Afterlife #1, Ages 14-18)

I didn’t even want to go to the party.

Seriously, I’d rather have stayed home with my librarian-witch grandmother and her mystical book club than go. But my best friend Skyler begged me. So I went.

And it was the worst party of my life. Actually, it was the last party of my life.

Not only was there something very strange about the band, but the lead singer bit me afterwards. And then took off with Skyler.

Now I’m chasing down a band of dangerous vamps with my best guy friend Vaughn—the boy I’ve been secretly crushing on forever.

But anything can happen on the road.

I thought all I wanted was for things to change with Vaughn. For him to finally see the real me. But this wasn’t what I had in mind…

Let the afterlife begin.

(POST-IT SAYS: Pure fun. Quippy main character, fast-paced plot, and tons of twists. A lot goes unexplored and is underdeveloped, but if you want a clever paranormal adventure, this will satisfy.)

Yesterday Is History by Kosoko Jackson (ISBN-13: 9781492694342 Publisher: Sourcebooks Publication date: 02/02/2021, Ages 14-18)

A romantic, heart-felt, and whimsical novel about letting go of the past, figuring out what you want in your future, and staying in the moment before it passes you by.

Weeks ago, Andre Cobb received a much-needed liver transplant.

He’s ready for his life to finally begin, until one night, when he passes out and wakes up somewhere totally unexpected…in 1969, where he connects with a magnetic boy named Michael.

And then, just as suddenly as he arrived, he slips back to present-day Boston, where the family of his donor is waiting to explain that his new liver came with a side effect—the ability to time travel. And they’ve tasked their youngest son, Blake, with teaching Andre how to use his unexpected new gift.

Andre splits his time bouncing between the past and future. Between Michael and Blake. Michael is everything Andre wishes he could be, and Blake, still reeling from the death of his brother, Andre’s donor, keeps him at arm’s length despite their obvious attraction to each other.

Torn between two boys, one in the past and one in the present, Andre has to figure out where he belongs—and more importantly who he wants to be—before the consequences of jumping in time catch up to him and change his future for good.

(POST-IT SAYS: I burned through this interesting take on a love triangle. The time traveling is never really explained, but that’s okay because this story is full of so much goodness I could overlook that.)

Game Changer by Neal Shusterman (ISBN-13: 9780061998676 Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers Publication date: 02/09/2021, Ages 14-17)

All it takes is one hit on the football field, and suddenly Ash’s life doesn’t look quite the way he remembers it.

Impossible though it seems, he’s been hit into another dimension—and keeps on bouncing through worlds that are almost-but-not-really his own.

The changes start small, but they quickly spiral out of control as Ash slides into universes where he has everything he’s ever wanted, universes where society is stuck in the past…universes where he finds himself looking at life through entirely different eyes.

And if he isn’t careful, the world he’s learning to see more clearly could blink out of existence…

This high-concept novel from the National Book Award-winning and New York Times-bestselling author of the Arc of a Scythe series tackles the most urgent themes of our time, making this a must-buy for readers who are starting to ask big questions about their own role in the universe.

(POST-IT SAYS: Ash discovers he’s the literal center of the universe in this speculative fiction look at identity, experience, interconnectedness, and privilege. A super interesting, twisty, unpredictable look at parallel universes/the multiverse.)

Claudia and the New Girl (The Baby-sitters Club Graphic Novel #9) by Ann M. Martin, Gabriela Epstein (Illustrator) (ISBN-13: 9781338304589 Publisher: Scholastic, Inc. Publication date: 02/02/2021, Ages 8-12)

A brand-new Baby-sitters Club graphic novel adapted by newcomer Gabriela Epstein!

Claudia has always been the most creative kid in her class… until Ashley Wyeth comes along. Ashley’s really different: She wears hippie clothes and has multiple earrings, and she’s the most fantastic artist Claudia has ever met.

Ashley says Claudia is a great artist, too, but thinks she’s wasting her artistic talent with The Baby-sitters Club. When Claudia starts spending more time with Ashley and missing BSC meetings, it becomes clear that Claudia has to make a decision — one of them has to go!

(POST-IT SAYS: Totally in love with these graphic novels—BSC forever! Such a good look at negotiating a new friendship and all that comes with it. The new illustrator did a great job.)

Angel of Greenwood by Randi Pink (ISBN-13: 9781250768476 Publisher: Feiwel & Friends Publication date: 01/12/2021, Ages 12-17)

Randi Pink’s The Angel of Greenwood is a historical YA novel that takes place during the Greenwood Massacre of 1921, in an area of Tulsa, OK, known as the “Black Wall Street.”…

Seventeen-year-old Isaiah Wilson is, on the surface, a town troublemaker, but is hiding that he is an avid reader and secret poet, never leaving home without his journal. A passionate follower of W.E.B. Du Bois, he believes that black people should rise up to claim their place as equals.

Sixteen-year-old Angel Hill is a loner, mostly disregarded by her peers as a goody-goody. Her father is dying, and her family’s financial situation is in turmoil. Also, as a loyal follower of Booker T. Washington, she believes, through education and tolerance, that black people should rise slowly and without forced conflict.

Though they’ve attended the same schools, Isaiah never noticed Angel as anything but a dorky, Bible toting church girl. Then their English teacher offers them a job on her mobile library, a three-wheel, two-seater bike. Angel can’t turn down the money and Isaiah is soon eager to be in such close quarters with Angel every afternoon.

But life changes on May 31, 1921 when a vicious white mob storms the community of Greenwood, leaving the town destroyed and thousands of residents displaced. Only then, Isaiah, Angel, and their peers realize who their real enemies are.

(POST-IT SAYS: More about Black life, thought, politics, and love in Greenwood at the time of the massacre than the massacre itself. Beautiful, powerful, lyrical, and full of so much heart and life. I love Isaiah and Angel’s connection.)

Post-It Reviews: Black Canary, hand-crafted dreams, and books set in the 1960s and 1980s

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!

All descriptions from the publishers. Transcriptions of the Post-It notes are below each description.

Black Canary: Breaking Silence by Alexandra Monir (ISBN-13: 9780593178317 Publisher: Random House Children’s Books Publication date: 12/29/2020 Series: DC Icons Series, Ages 12+)

In this thrilling origin story of Black Canary, Dinah Lance’s voice is her weapon. And in a near-future world where women have no rights, she won’t hesitate to use everything she has—including her song—to fight back.

Dinah Lance was eight years old when she overheard the impossible: the sound of a girl singing. It was something she was never meant to hear—not in her lifetime and not in Gotham City, taken over by the vicious, patriarchal Court of Owls. The sinister organization rules Gotham City as a dictatorship and has stripped women of everything—their right to work, to make music, to learn, to be free.

Now seventeen, Dinah can’t forget that haunting sound, and she’s beginning to discover that her own voice is just as powerful. But singing is forbidden—a one-way route to a certain death sentence. Fighting to balance her father’s desire to keep her safe, a blossoming romance with mysterious new student Oliver Queen, and her own need to help other women and girls rise up, Dinah wonders if her song will finally be heard. And will her voice be powerful enough to destroy the Court of Owls once and for all?

(POST-IT SAYS: Well, now I need to read the others in this DC Icons series. A compelling story of resistance, oppression, politics, feminism, rebellion, and revolution. A good story about finding your voice!)

Clues to the Universe by Christina Li (ISBN-13: 9780063008885 Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers Publication date: 01/12/2021, Ages 8-12)

This #ownvoices debut about losing and finding family, forging unlikely friendships, and searching for answers to big questions will resonate with fans of Erin Entrada Kelly and Rebecca Stead.

The only thing Rosalind Ling Geraghty loves more than watching NASA launches with her dad is building rockets with him. When he dies unexpectedly, all Ro has left of him is an unfinished model rocket they had been working on together.

Benjamin Burns doesn’t like science, but he can’t get enough of Spacebound, a popular comic book series. When he finds a sketch that suggests that his dad created the comics, he’s thrilled. Too bad his dad walked out years ago, and Benji has no way to contact him.

Though Ro and Benji were only supposed to be science class partners, the pair become unlikely friends: Benji helps Ro finish her rocket, and Ro figures out a way to reunite Benji and his dad. But Benji hesitates, which infuriates Ro. Doesn’t he realize how much Ro wishes she could be in his place?

As the two face bullying, grief, and their own differences, Benji and Ro must try to piece together clues to some of the biggest questions in the universe.

(POST-IT SAYS: This 1980s-set story about loss, family, friendship, and exploration is a great recommendation for readers who like quiet, emotional, character-driven reads. A good pick for those who like sad but not too sad books.)

The Nightmare Thief by Nicole Lesperance, Federica Fenna (Illustrator) (ISBN-13: 9781728215341 Publisher: Sourcebooks Publication date: 01/12/2021 Series: Nightmare Thief Series , #1, Ages 8-13)

For fans of A Snicker of Magic and The Miscalculations of Lightning Girl comes a suspenseful dark fantasy duology, perfect for middle school readers that love stories of magic and sisterhood with a dash of danger.

Maren Partridge loves working in her family’s dream shop where she can hand-craft any dream imaginable. The shop has only one rule. Dreams cannot be given to a person without their consent. Maren has no problem with this—until her sister, Hallie, has an accident that leaves her in a coma. Maren’s certain she can cure Hallie with a few well-chosen dreams. And when no one is watching, she slips her a flying dream.

But a strange new customer from the shop has been following Maren and knows what she did. Now she’s laid the perfect trap to blackmail Maren into creating custom nightmares for a dark and terrible purpose. As Maren gets drawn further into the sinister scheme, she must make a choice: to protect her family or to protect the town from her family’s magic.

(POST-IT SAYS: It will be easy to recommend this one widely. A town full of magic, a villain, interesting characters to root for, and just enough scary stuff to keep readers a bit on edge. Good fun!)

Just Like That by Gary D. Schmidt (ISBN-13: 9780544084773 Publisher: HMH Books Publication date: 01/05/2021, Ages 10-14)

In this poignant, perceptive, witty novel, Gary D. Schmidt brings authenticity and emotion to multiple plot strands, weaving in themes of grief, loss, redemption, achievement, and love. Following the death of her closest friend in summer 1968, Meryl Lee Kowalski goes off to St. Elene’s Preparatory Academy for Girls, where she struggles to navigate the venerable boarding school’s traditions and a social structure heavily weighted toward students from wealthy backgrounds. In a parallel story, Matt Coffin has wound up on the Maine coast near St. Elene’s with a pillowcase full of money lifted from the leader of a criminal gang, fearing the gang’s relentless, destructive pursuit. Both young people gradually dispel their loneliness, finding a way to be hopeful and also finding each other.

(POST-IT SAYS: Perfection in book form. Though filled with grief, sadness, and violence, this is such a warm, hopeful story of love, survival, and family in its many forms. A sensitive and thoughtful look at loss and moving forward.)

Post-It Note Reviews: Graphic novels galore!

So glad I’ve been doing routine installments of these Post-It Note Reviews for quite a while now because, WHEW! is this what my current attention span is best suited for at the moment. Here’s to being able to concentrate more in 2021, right? I really went heavy here with graphic novels, which has been my comfort reading of choice these past many weeks!

All descriptions from the publishers. Transcriptions of the post-it reviews follow.

Child Star by Brian “Box” Brown (ISBN-13: 9781250154071 Publisher: First Second Publication date: 06/30/2020, Ages 14-adult)

Child Star is a fictional documentary-style graphic novel about how growing up in the spotlight robs young actors of a true childhood.

Child star Owen Eugene had it all: a hit sitcom on prime time, a Saturday morning cartoon, and a memoir on the bestseller list. The secret to his success was his talent for improvisation . . . and his small size. On screen he made the whole world laugh, but behind the scenes his life was falling apart. Hollywood ate him alive.

Inspired by real-life child stars, bestselling author Brian “Box” Brown created Owen Eugene, a composite character whose tragic life is an amalgam of 1980s pop culture.

(POST-IT SAYS: If you don’t know Brown’s books–particularly this one on Andre the Giant—get on that! This documentary-style look at a fictional child star follows a predictable path yet always feels interesting and engaging. Can’t wait to see what he tackles next!)

Flamer by Mike Curato (ISBN-13: 9781250756145 Publisher: Henry Holt and Co. (BYR) Publication date: 09/01/2020, Ages 14-18)

Award-winning author and artist Mike Curato draws on his own experiences in Flamer, his debut graphic novel, telling a difficult story with humor, compassion, and love. 

“This book will save lives.” —Jarrett J. Krosoczka, author of National Book Award Finalist Hey, Kiddo 

I know I’m not gay. Gay boys like other boys. I hate boys. They’re mean, and scary, and they’re always destroying something or saying something dumb or both.

I hate that word. Gay. It makes me feel . . . unsafe.

It’s the summer between middle school and high school, and Aiden Navarro is away at camp. Everyone’s going through changes—but for Aiden, the stakes feel higher. As he navigates friendships, deals with bullies, and spends time with Elias (a boy he can’t stop thinking about), he finds himself on a path of self-discovery and acceptance.

(POST-IT SAYS: A brutal but ultimately hopeful read. Full of bullying, slurs, and doubt, but also full of friendship and acceptance. Masterful storytelling and deeply affecting and dynamic art. Powerful message: you are enough.)

The League of Super Feminists by Mirion Malle, Aleshia Jensen (Translator) (ISBN-13: 9781770464025 Publisher: Drawn & Quarterly Publication date: 10/13/2020, Ages 12-18)

This primer on feminism and media literacy teaches young readers why it matters

The League of Super Feminists is an energetic and fierce comic for tweens and younger teens. Cartoonist Mirion Malle guides readers through some of the central tenets of feminism and media literacy including consent, intersectionality, privilege, body image, inclusivity and more; all demystified in the form of a witty, down-to-earth dialogue that encourages questioning the stories we’re told about identity. Malle’s insightful and humorous comics transport lofty concepts from the ivory tower to the eternally safer space of open discussion. Making reference to the Bechdel test in film and Peggy McIntosh’s dissection of white privilege through the metaphor of the “invisible knapsack,” The League of Super Feminists is an asset to the classroom, library, and household alike.

Knights and princesses present problems associated with consent; superheroes reveal problematic stereotypes associated with gender; and grumpy onlookers show just how insidious cat-calling culture can be. No matter how women dress, Malle explains, there seems to always be someone ready to call it out. The League of Super Feminists articulates with both poise and clarity how unconscious biases and problematic thought processes can have tragic results.

Why does feminism matter? Are feminists man-haters? How do race and feminism intersect? Malle answers these questions for young readers, in a comic that is as playful and hilarious as it is necessary.

(POST-IT SAYS: Useful as a very basic intro to feminism, sexism, and representation. Could stand to have an intro, a conclusion, and a more intersectional approach. The title also doesn’t really fit with/indicate the content. A good overview but could have been stronger.)

Mary: The Adventures of Mary Shelley’s Great-Great-Great-Great-Great Granddaughter by Brea Grant and Yishan Li (ISBN-13: 9781644420294 Publisher: Six Foot Press Publication date: 10/06/2020 Ages 12 – 18)

Angsty teenager Mary Shelley is not interested in carrying on her family’s celebrated legacy of being a great writer, but she soon discovers that she has the not-so-celebrated and super-secret Shelley power to heal monsters, just like her famous ancestor, and those monsters are not going to let her ignore her true calling anytime soon.

The Shelley family history is filled with great writers: the original Mary Shelley, author of Frankenstein, the acclaimed mystery writer Tawny Shelley, cookbook maven Phyllis Shelley…the list goes on and on. But this Mary Shelley, named after her great-great-great-great-great grandmother, doesn’t want anything to do with that legacy. Then a strangely pale (and really cute) boy named Adam shows up and asks her to heal a wound he got under mysterious circumstances, and Mary learns something new about her family: the first Mary Shelley had the power to heal monsters, and Mary has it, too. Now the monsters won’t stop showing up, Mary can’t get her mother Tawny to leave her alone about writing something (anything!), she can’t tell her best friend Rhonda any of this, and all Mary wants is to pass biology.

(POST-IT SAYS: Fun concept with great art, especially the excellent monsters. Mary is a good main character—angsty, goth, and certain she’ll never live up to her family’s legacy. Hope there’s more to come.)

The Girl Who Wasn’t There by Penny Joelson (ISBN-13: 9781492698852 Publisher: Sourcebooks Publication date: 11/03/2020, Ages 14-18)

For fans of Karen M. McManus and Kara Thomas comes this riveting new young adult crime thriller packed with mystery and suspense, from the acclaimed author of I Have No Secrets

Nothing ever happens on Kasia’s street. And Kasia would know, because her chronic illness keeps her stuck at home, watching the outside world from her bedroom window. So when she witnesses what looks like a kidnapping, she’s not sure whether she can believe her own eyes…

There had been a girl in the window across the street who must have seen something too. But when Kasia ventures out to find her, she is told the most shocking thing of all: There is no girl.

(POST-IT SAYS: The main character has Myalgic Encephalomyelitis, which is rare to see in YA. Thriller-ish story about human trafficking—a quick read. Curious what people with ME think of the rep.)

Class Act by Jerry Craft (ISBN-13: 9780062885500 Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers Publication date: 10/06/2020, Ages 8-12)

New York Times bestselling author Jerry Craft returns with a companion book to New Kid, winner of the 2020 Newbery Medal, the Coretta Scott King Author Award, and the Kirkus Prize. This time, it’s Jordan’s friend Drew who takes center stage in another laugh-out-loud funny, powerful, and important story about being one of the few kids of color in a prestigious private school.

Eighth grader Drew Ellis is no stranger to the saying “You have to work twice as hard to be just as good.” His grandmother has reminded him his entire life. But what if he works ten times as hard and still isn’t afforded the same opportunities that his privileged classmates at the Riverdale Academy Day School take for granted?

To make matters worse, Drew begins to feel as if his good friend Liam might be one of those privileged kids. He wants to pretend like everything is fine, but it’s hard not to withdraw, and even their mutual friend Jordan doesn’t know how to keep the group together.

As the pressures mount, will Drew find a way to bridge the divide so he and his friends can truly accept each other? And most important, will he finally be able to accept himself?

New Kid, the first graphic novel to win the Newbery Medal, is now joined by Jerry Craft’s powerful Class Act.

(POST-IT SAYS: A perfect book. Truly. Tackles serious topics while still being funny and just so real. The kids address race, class, colorism, microaggressions, and friendship. As great and maybe better than New Kid.)

Displacement by Kiku Hughes (ISBN-13: 9781250193537 Publisher: First Second Publication date: 08/18/2020, Ages 12-18)

A teenager is pulled back in time to witness her grandmother’s experiences in World War II-era Japanese internment camps in Displacement, a historical graphic novel from Kiku Hughes.

Kiku is on vacation in San Francisco when suddenly she finds herself displaced to the 1940s Japanese-American internment camp that her late grandmother, Ernestina, was forcibly relocated to during World War II.

These displacements keep occurring until Kiku finds herself “stuck” back in time. Living alongside her young grandmother and other Japanese-American citizens in internment camps, Kiku gets the education she never received in history class. She witnesses the lives of Japanese-Americans who were denied their civil liberties and suffered greatly, but managed to cultivate community and commit acts of resistance in order to survive. 

Kiku Hughes weaves a riveting, bittersweet tale that highlights the intergenerational impact and power of memory.

(POST-IT SAYS: I loved the art, the powerful look at existence and resistance in the camps, and the look at modern-day parallels. A moving exploration of what it means to be displaced.)

Twins (Twins #1) by Varian Johnson, Shannon Wright (Illustrator) (ISBN-13: 9781338236132 Publisher: Scholastic, Inc. Publication date: 10/06/2020, Ages 8-12)

Coretta Scott King Honor author Varian Johnson teams up with rising cartoonist Shannon Wright for a delightful middle-grade graphic novel!

Maureen and Francine Carter are twins and best friends. They participate in the same clubs, enjoy the same foods, and are partners on all their school projects. But just before the girls start sixth grade, Francine becomes Fran — a girl who wants to join the chorus, run for class president, and dress in fashionable outfits that set her apart from Maureen. A girl who seems happy to share only two classes with her sister!

Maureen and Francine are growing apart and there’s nothing Maureen can do to stop it. Are sisters really forever? Or will middle school change things for good?

(POST-IT SAYS: Absolutely adored this. Get like 6 copies for your library—this will fly off shelves! Great art and pitch perfect story about siblings, identity, confidence, friendship, and middle school.)

Dear Justyce by Nic Stone (ISBN-13: 9781984829665 Publisher: Random House Children’s Books Publication date: 09/29/2020, Ages 14-17)

The stunning sequel to the #1 New York Times bestseller Dear Martin. Incarcerated teen Quan writes letters to Justyce about his experiences in the American juvenile justice systemPerfect for fans of Jason Reynolds and Angie Thomas.

In the highly anticipated sequel to her New York Times bestseller, Nic Stone delivers an unflinching look into the flawed practices and silenced voices in the American juvenile justice system.

Vernell LaQuan Banks and Justyce McAllister grew up a block apart in the Southwest Atlanta neighborhood of Wynwood Heights. Years later, though, Justyce walks the illustrious halls of Yale University . . . and Quan sits behind bars at the Fulton Regional Youth Detention Center.

Through a series of flashbacks, vignettes, and letters to Justyce—the protagonist of Dear Martin—Quan’s story takes form. Troubles at home and misunderstandings at school give rise to police encounters and tough decisions. But then there’s a dead cop and a weapon with Quan’s prints on it. What leads a bright kid down a road to a murder charge? Not even Quan is sure.

(POST-IT SAYS: Whew. This is another must-read of 2020. A powerful examination of why someone may get involved in a gang, the school to prison pipeline, the justice system, and the importance of support. Profound.)

Lunch Will Never Be the Same! #1 by Veera Hiranandani, Christine Almeda (Illustrator) (ISBN-13: 9780593096895 Publisher: Penguin Young Readers Group Publication date: 10/06/2020, Ages 6-8)

Written by Newbery Honor-winner Veera Hiranandani, with all-new illustrations by Christine Almeda!

Phoebe G. Green has never given much thought to food, but when a new French classmate enters the cafeteria with a lunchbox full of unusual foods, a new love is born. Spunky and likable, Phoebe is a budding foodie who’s sure to win over your heart—and stomach!

Phoebe loves her pet fish, Betty #2 (named after Betty #1, may she rest in peace), making lists, and her best friend Sage. But when Camille, a tall French girl, arrives at school with unusual lunches, Phoebe can’t seem to think about anything else, including her friendship with Sage. Thanks to Camille, Phoebe discovers goat cheese, butter lettuce, and cilantro (although she’s convinced that’s not a real word). She’s determined to get invited to her new friend’s house for dinner to see what other mysterious food Camille eats. But what about Sage? Can Phoebe make a new friend and keep an old one?

(POST-IT SAYS: I never saw this series when it was pubbed in 2014, but so glad to discover it in this reissue. Nice look at friendship and navigating making a new friend without forgetting old friends. A solid, fun read with appealing art. Easy to recommend.)

Logan Likes Mary Anne! (The Baby-Sitters Club Graphix Series #8) by Gale Galligan, Ann M. Martin (ISBN-13: 9781338304541 Publisher: Scholastic, Inc. Publication date: 09/01/2020, Ages 8-12)

Another Baby-sitters Club graphic novel adapted by New York Timesbestselling author Gale Galligan!

It’s the first day of a new school year, and while Mary Anne doesn’t know what to expect from the eighth grade, she’s looking forward to getting back into the swing of things. One thing she definitely doesn’t expect is to meet Logan Bruno, who just moved to Stoneybrook!

Logan has a dreamy southern accent, he’s awfully cute… and he might be interested in joining the BSC. But the baby-sitters aren’t sure if Logan would make a good club member, so they send him on a job with Mary Anne as a test. Logan and Mary Anne hit it off, but Mary Anne isn’t sure of where their friendship could go. Life in the Baby-sitters Club has never been this complicated — or this fun!

(POST-IT SAYS: Can I please get all 200is iterations of the BSC books as graphic novels ASAP?! Another excellent addition to the series here. Logan is adorable and I still want the BSC as my besties. Really fun.)

Something to Say by Lisa Moore Ramée (ISBN-13: 9780062836717 Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers Publication date: 07/14/2020, Ages 8-12)

From the author of A Good Kind of Trouble, a Walter Dean Myers Honor Book, comes another unforgettable story about finding your voice—and finding your people. Perfect for fans of Sharon Draper, Meg Medina, and Jason Reynolds.

Eleven-year-old Jenae doesn’t have any friends—and she’s just fine with that. She’s so good at being invisible in school, it’s almost like she has a superpower, like her idol, Astrid Dane. At home, Jenae has plenty of company, like her no-nonsense mama; her older brother, Malcolm, who is home from college after a basketball injury; and her beloved grandpa, Gee.

Then a new student shows up at school—a boy named Aubrey with fiery red hair and a smile that won’t quit. Jenae can’t figure out why he keeps popping up everywhere she goes. The more she tries to push him away, the more he seems determined to be her friend. Despite herself, Jenae starts getting used to having him around.

But when the two are paired up for a class debate about the proposed name change for their school, Jenae knows this new friendship has an expiration date. Aubrey is desperate to win and earn a coveted spot on the debate team.

There’s just one problem: Jenae would do almost anything to avoid speaking up in front of an audience—including risking the first real friendship she’s ever had.

(POST-IT SAYS: This was great! All of the characters are interesting and stand out, but introverted, anxious Jenae is wonderful. Excellent look at friendship, social anxiety, social justice, and finding your voice. Loved it.)

Post-It Note Reviews: Voting, bands, ghosts, and more!

It’s hardly unique to say that 2020 has zapped my ability to concentrate AND that it’s worked hard to ruin reading for me. Why escape into fiction when you can doomscroll endlessly? Despite some days where concentrating on a book feels impossible, I am still reading. And these short post-it reviews are currently perfect for me, as longer form thoughts are hard to conjure up.

All descriptions are from the publishers. The handwritten post-it reviews are transcribed after the descriptions.

The Voting Booth by Brandy Colbert (ISBN-13: 9781368053297 Publisher: Disney Press Publication date: 07/07/2020, Ages 12-18)

From Stonewall Award-winning author Brandy Colbert comes an all-in-one-day love story perfect for fans of The Sun is Also A Star

Marva Sheridan was born ready for this day. She’s always been driven to make a difference in the world, and what better way than to vote in her first election? 

Duke Crenshaw is so done with this election. He just wants to get voting over with so he can prepare for his band’s first paying gig tonight. 

Only problem? Duke can’t vote. 

When Marva sees Duke turned away from their polling place, she takes it upon herself to make sure his vote is counted. She hasn’t spent months doorbelling and registering voters just to see someone denied their right. 
And that’s how their whirlwind day begins, rushing from precinct to precinct, cutting school, waiting in endless lines, turned away time and again, trying to do one simple thing: vote. They may have started out as strangers, but as Duke and Marva team up to beat a rigged system (and find Marva’s missing cat), it’s clear that there’s more to their connection than a shared mission for democracy. 

Romantic and triumphant, The Voting Booth is proof that you can’t sit around waiting for the world to change—but some things are just meant to be. 

(POST-IT SAYS: Excellent character-driven story about activism, grief, and connection. I want to be Marva’s best friend. It’s election season—get this front and center on your displays!)

All Together Now by Hope Larson (ISBN-13: 9780374313654 Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux Publication date: 08/04/2020)

All Together Now is New York Times bestselling author and illustrator Hope Larson’s pitch-perfect graphic novel follow-up for fans of All Summer Long, music lovers, and anyone navigating the ups and downs of friendship.

Middle-schooler Bina is having the best time playing in her new band with her friends, Darcy and Enzo. But both the band and her friendships begin to crumble when Darcy and Enzo start dating, effectively relegating Bina to third-wheel status. 

To make matters worse, Bina’s best friend, Austin, starts developing a crush on her . . . one she is not sure she reciprocates. Now Bina must follow her heart. Can she navigate its twists and turns before the lights come up and the music starts playing?

(POST-IT SAYS: Really captures how complicated middle school relationships can be. Will especially speak to artists and musicians. Can be read on its own, though new readers will surely seek out book #1. Smart, honest, and engaging.)

Warm Blood Vol. 1 by Josh Tierney (ISBN-13: 9781733168700 Publisher: Buno Books Publication date: 05/19/2020)

The popular high-school mystery webcomic comes to print for the first time in this special edition from Buno. Join our hero Penny, a quiet girl who dreams of becoming a video game developer, as she navigates her first year at Greenwood High. There she must contend with a string of bizarre murders, potentially evil twins, rumors of shadow monsters, and a strange presence lurking just outside her window.

Helping Penny through it all are her friends, including her anime loving best buds from elementary school, a 4th wall smashing girl she meets on her first day, and a sweet awkward girl eager to be her BFF, and who happens to be very handy with a baseball bat. Josh Tierney is the creator of the Eisner, Harvey, Shuster, and Diamond-Gem nominated “Spera” series of fantasy graphic novels and co-creator of the sci-fi mini-series Halo-Gen. His projects are created in collaboration with artists from around the world.

Warm Blood includes work by Josh Tierney, Afu Chan, Saskia Gutenkunst, Joysuke, Winston Young, Naomi Franquiz, Marina Julia, Olivier Pichard, Jane Bak, Vlad Gusev, e jackson, Leiana Nitura, Blakely Inberg, Eva Eskelinen, F. Choo, Cleonique Hilsaca, Thomas Rouzière, Sandrine Han Jin Kuang, Mathilde Kitteh, Shanen Pae, Stephen Rodgers, Sara DuVall, Cat Sukiman, Xulia Vicente, Nuno Plati, Heikala, Crista Castro, Irma Kniivila, Stephanie Son,Cristina Rose Chua, María Ponce Esparcia, Kat Lyons, Gaby Epstein, and nims.

(POST-IT SAYS: If you like extremely strange, surreal, almost theater of the absurd-style stories, you’ll enjoy this. Loved all the different art styles. Weird in all the best ways.)

Stranger Things: Zombie Boys by Greg Pak, Valeria Favoccia (Illustrator) (ISBN-13: 9781506713090 Publisher: Dark Horse Comics Publication date: 01/21/2020)

Following the events of season one of Netflix’s pop-culture sensation Stranger Things, our main characters struggle with returning to normal life after overcoming supernatural horror.

School is back in session in the normally quiet town of Hawkins, Indiana. Mike, Lucas, Dustin, and Will are still grappling with the traumatic encounters with the Demogorgon and the Upside Down in season one of the hit Netflix series. As tensions rise and fractures begin to form in the group, a new kid shows up to AV club with a Betamax Camcorder and an idea. The new Spielberg-wannabe friend, Joey Kim, wants to make a horror movie about a local legend, but when he sees Will’s drawings, he discovers that his new friends are local legends.

Written by best-selling author Greg Pak (Mech Cadet YuThe Incredible HulkStar Wars: Age of Rebellion) and drawn by Valeria Favoccia (Assassin Creed: ReflectionsDoctor Who: The Tenth Doctor).

(POST-IT SAYS: An original story that doesn’t take place in the TV show. Not fantastic, but I love the show and am reading all the additional material. Graphic novel fans will probably enjoy this quick read about a zombie movie.)

A Gift for a Ghost by Borja Gonzalez (ISBN-13: 9781419740138 Publisher: ABRAMS Publication date: 05/05/2020, Ages 14-18)

An untalented punk band and a parallel dimension—what could go wrong? 

In Borja González’s stunning graphic novel, two parallel stories reflect and intertwine in a tale of youthful dreams and desires. In 1856, Teresa, a young aristocrat, is more interested in writing avantgarde horror poetry than making a suitable marriage. In 2016, three teenage girls, Gloria, Laura, and Cristina, want to start a punk band called the Black Holes. They have everything they need: attitude, looks, instinct . . . and an alarming lack of musical talent. They’ve barely started rehearsing when strange things begin to happen. As their world and Teresa’s intersect, they’re haunted by the echo of something that happened 160 years ago.

(POST-IT SAYS: Beautiful art and a mysterious, quirky story make this quick read compelling. Quiet, sad, and creative characters provide real depth in this tale that is more told via the illustration clues than the words.)

Superman Smashes the Klan by Gene Luen Yang, Gurihiru (Illustrator) (ISBN-13: 9781779504210 Publisher: DC Comics Publication date: 05/12/2020, Ages 12 up)

The year is 1946. Teenagers Roberta and Tommy Lee just moved with their parents from Chinatown to the center of Metropolis, home to the famous hero, Superman. Tommy makes friends quickly, while Roberta pines for home. Then one night, the family awakens to find their house surrounded by the Klan of the Fiery Kross! Superman leaps into action, but his exposure to a mysterious green rock has left him weak. Can Roberta and Tommy help him smash the Klan?

Inspired by the 1940s Superman radio serial “Clan of the Fiery Cross,” New York Times bestselling author Gene Luen Yang (American Born ChineseBoxers and SaintsThe TerrificsNew Super-Man) and artist Gurihiru (Avatar: The Last AirbenderThe Unstoppable Wasp) bring us a personal retelling of two different immigrants finding ways to belong.

(POST-IT SAYS: How can you pass up a book with this title? Superman tackles white supremacy, racism, and his own worries about his own identity. Definitely read the back matter, too!)

Unexpected Super Spy (Planet Omar Series #2) by Zanib Mian, Nasaya Mafaridik (Illustrator) (ISBN-13: 9780593109243 Publisher: Penguin Young Readers Group Publication date: 09/29/2020, Ages 8-12)

Omar is back with a big mystery to solve in the second installment of this imaginative, highly-illustrated middle-grade series.

When Omar hears that his family’s favorite mosque is at risk of shutting down due to lack of funds, he knows he has to do something. And with the help of his best friend Charlie and another unlikely ally, a great idea is born—a school talent contest!

Omar and his friends are super excited about their plan, that is until Omar’s sister, Maryam, decides she and her friends are going to raise money, too, and the competition is on. The boys’ talent show is a huge success but disaster strikes right at the end—all the money goes missing. Omar has no choice but to become a super spy to track down a foe much more wily than his sister.

Omar’s amazing imagination brings the second story in his adventures to life as he navigates more of life’s ups and downs. From sibling brawls to speaking to the scary principal and becoming a community activist, bold illustrations and cheeky dialogue show how Omar perseveres through serious and silly adversity.

(POST-IT SAYS: Great new series that every library needs! Fun and funny with a light mystery. Many illustrations and font styles will keep readers turning pages. Omar is British Pakistani and Muslim.)

Puppy Problems by PAIGE BRADDOCK (ISBN-13: 9780593117439 Publisher: Penguin Young Readers Group Publication date: 09/22/2020, Ages 5-8)

A goofy new puppy rocks the world of a high-strung dog and a snarky cat in this hilarious graphic novel for early readers.

Crackers is a rescue dog who’s a bit on the nervous side, but pretty comfy at home with Butter, a very plump cat who—like all cats—is all about himself. The two pets have a good life: big backyard, nice couch, good eats, and an owner who goes to work every day so they can pretty much do what they want.

Enter Peanut, a brand-new puppy with big floppy ears, unabashed energy, and no appreciation for the quiet life. The little dog is a chowhound who dips into everybody’s food bowl. He drools, he chews up stuff, he doesn’t get how stairs work, and he’s afraid of the dark. Yowl! Not to mention he’s hogging their owner’s lap. Even the squirrels in the yard are laughing at this goofy little canine.

Butter and Crackers have had it! This puppy has to go! But when the backyard gate is left open (the cat’s idea, of course!) and Peanut wanders out and gets lost, the older animals remember what it was like to be alone—and lonely. Butter and Crackers to the rescue!

Kids will laugh-out-loud at Paige Braddock’s funny, endearing art and dialogue. (She also cleverly never shows “our human,” the animals’ owner, as anything more than a pair of hands or unintelligble speech balloons.) This is a wonderful story about friendship and acceptance, with the funniest combination of pets to ever hit the page.

(POST-IT SAYS: What’s not to love?! Graphic novel! Animals! Pet adoption! A doxie! Really cute and fun. The little animals have huge personalities! I can’t wait for more installments!)

Watch Over Me by Nina LaCour (ISBN-13: 9780593108970 Publisher: Penguin Young Readers Group Publication date: 09/15/2020, Ages 14-17)

Nina LaCour delivers another emotional knockout with Watch Over Me, the much-anticipated follow-up to the Printz Award-winning We Are Okay

★ “Gripping; an emotion-packed must-read.” –Kirkus, starred review
★ “Moving, unsettling, and full of atmospheric beauty.” –SLJ, starred review 


Mila is used to being alone.

Maybe that’s why she said yes. Yes to a second chance in this remote place, among the flowers and the fog and the crash of waves far below.

But she hadn’t known about the ghosts.

Newly graduated from high school, Mila has aged out of the foster care system. So when she’s offered a teaching job and a place to live on an isolated part of the Northern California coast, she immediately accepts. Maybe she will finally find a new home—a real home. The farm is a refuge, but it’s also haunted by the past. And Mila’s own memories are starting to rise to the surface.

Nina LaCour, the Printz Award–winning author of We Are Okay, delivers another emotional knockout with Watch Over Me, a modern ghost story about trauma and survival, chosen family and rebirth.

(POST-IT SAYS: A stunning, heartbreaking look at what it means to be haunted. Readers will ache with Mila as she tries to be hopeful about her future while unable to heal from her traumatic past. Just lovely.)

The Tiny Mansion by Keir Graff (ISBN-13: 9781984813855 Publisher: Penguin Young Readers Group Publication date: 09/08/2020, Ages 8-12)

In this pitch-perfect middle grade adventure, twelve-year-old Dagmar must endure a summer living off-the-grid with her family in a tiny home.

The last thing twelve-year-old Dagmar wants is to spend her summer vacation squished into a tiny house with her dad, her stepmom, and her annoying five-year-old half brother. But after a sudden financial setback, her family is evicted from their Oakland apartment, and that’s just where they end up, parked among the towering redwoods of Northern California.

As Dagmar explores the forest around their new and (hopefully) temporary home, she discovers they are living next door to an eccentric tech billionaire and his very unusual extended family. There’s his brother, a woodsman who sets dangerous booby traps all over the place, and his sister, a New Age animal lover who meditates to whale songs in an isolation tank. And then there’s the billionaire’s son, Blake, who has everything he could ever wish for—except maybe a friend.

But when a wildfire engulfs the forest, everyone—rich and poor, kid and adult—will have to work together to escape. And with both families at risk of losing everything, it turns out it’s not the size of the home but the people you share it with that matters.

(POST-IT SAYS: Given the months of quarantine I’ve spent watching various tiny homes shows, this grabbed my interest. Unique setting/living situation, strong characters, and lots of whimsy. Good fun with a message.)

How It All Blew Up by Arvin Ahmadi (ISBN-13: 9780593202876 Publisher: Penguin Young Readers Group Publication date: 09/22/2020, Ages 14-17)

Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda goes to Italy in Arvin Ahmadi’s newest incisive look at identity and what it means to find yourself by running away.

Eighteen-year-old Amir Azadi always knew coming out to his Muslim family would be messy—he just didn’t think it would end in an airport interrogation room. But when faced with a failed relationship, bullies, and blackmail, running away to Rome is his only option. Right?

Soon, late nights with new friends and dates in the Sistine Chapel start to feel like second nature… until his old life comes knocking on his door. Now, Amir has to tell the whole truth and nothing but the truth to a US Customs officer, or risk losing his hard-won freedom.

At turns uplifting and devastating, How It All Blew Up is Arvin Ahmadi’s most powerful novel yet, a celebration of how life’s most painful moments can live alongside the riotous, life-changing joys of discovering who you are.

(POST-IT SAYS: Loved the format—traditional narrative mixed with the monologues from interrogation. An emotional read with vivid characters that tells an important story of identity, culture, acceptance, and family. A great read.)

Field of Screams by Joel Sutherland

The Nightmare Next Door by Joel Sutherland

Ghosts Never Die by Joel Sutherland

Night of the Living Dolls by Joel Sutherland

(HAUNTED SERIES Publisher: Sourcebooks Publication date: 09/01/2020, Ages 8-12)

Summary of Fields of Screams: Will they escape before it’s too late?

Darius and Ryan are excited to visit Scarecrow Farm. It’s always been a spooky good time—the perfect spot to go on Halloween.

But when they arrive, it’s nothing like they remember. The place looks run-down, and Darius can’t shake the feeling that they shouldn’t be there. When the two boys get lost in the corn maze, they start to panic—especially when they meet something terrifying hidden among the corn.

Can Darius and Ryan escape before they become the latest victims of the maze?

(POST-IT SAYS: The kids at my school love “scary” books, so I see these as popular, easy recs. Fast-paced, spooky reads that are sure to be a hit with fans of Goosebumps. Satisfying twists and creepiness. Wide appeal.)

Post-It Note Reviews: Graphic novels and memoirs, a middle grade about racism and friendship, and a beautiful YA about drag and identity

Making my way through my library hold list and I’m appreciative of my local library’s contactless curbside pickup option. I currently have 56 books (staggered) in my hold queue and keep adding more. So surprising, I know.

All descriptions from the publishers. Transcriptions of the Post-It notes follow the description.

Stepping Stones (Peapod Farm Series #1) by Lucy Knisley (ISBN-13: 9781984896841 Publisher: Random House Children’s Books Publication date: 05/05/2020, Ages 8-12)

This contemporary middle-grade graphic novel about family and belonging from New York Times bestselling author Lucy Knisley is a perfect read for fans of Awkward and Be Prepared.

Jen is used to not getting what she wants. So suddenly moving the country and getting new stepsisters shouldn’t be too much of a surprise.

Jen did not want to leave the city. She did not want to move to a farm with her mom and her mom’s new boyfriend, Walter. She did not want to leave her friends and her dad.

Most of all, Jen did not want to get new “sisters,” Andy and Reese.

As if learning new chores on Peapod Farm wasn’t hard enough, having to deal with perfect-at-everything Andy might be the last straw for Jen. Besides cleaning the chicken coop, trying to keep up with the customers at the local farmers’ market, and missing her old life, Jen has to deal with her own insecurities about this new family . . . and where she fits in.

New York Times bestselling author Lucy Knisley brings to life a story inspired from her own childhood in an amazing journey of unlikely friends, sisters, and home.

(POST-IT SAYS: I adore all of Knisley’s books for older readers and am so glad to see her doing graphic novels for kids now. Shows how complicated families and change can be. A painfully honest look at Jen’s frustrations will leave readers ready to see what happens in forthcoming books.)

The Fire Never Goes Out: A Memoir in Pictures by Noelle Stevenson (ISBN-13: 9780062278272 Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers Publication date: 03/03/2020, Ages 14-17)

From Noelle Stevenson, the New York Times bestselling author-illustrator of Nimona, comes a captivating, honest illustrated memoir that finds her turning an important corner in her creative journey—and inviting readers along for the ride.

In a collection of essays and personal mini-comics that span eight years of her young adult life, author-illustrator Noelle Stevenson charts the highs and lows of being a creative human in the world.

Whether it’s hearing the wrong name called at her art school graduation ceremony or becoming a National Book Award finalist for her debut graphic novel, Nimona, Noelle captures the little and big moments that make up a real life, with a wit, wisdom, and vulnerability that are all her own.

(POST-IT SAYS: I wanted a little more depth than this scattered memoir gives, but as it’s Stevenson, it was still an enjoyable look at how complicated life, love, and success can be. Fragmented but beautiful.)

Catherine’s War by Julia Billet, Claire Fauvel (Illustrator), Ivanka Hahnenberger (Translator) (ISBN-13: 9780062915597 Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers Publication date: 01/21/2020, Ages 10-14)

A magnificent narrative inspired by a true survival story that asks universal questions about a young girl’s coming of age story, her identity, her passions, and her first loves.

At the Sèvres Children’s Home outside Paris, Rachel Cohen has discovered her passion—photography. Although she hasn’t heard from her parents in months, she loves the people at her school, adores capturing what she sees in pictures, and tries not to worry too much about Hitler’s war. But as France buckles under the Nazi regime, danger closes in, and Rachel must change her name and go into hiding.

As Catherine Colin, Rachel Cohen is faced with leaving the Sèvres Home—and the friends she made there—behind. But with her beautiful camera, Catherine possesses an object with the power to remember. For the rest of the war, Catherine bears witness to her own journey, and to the countless heroes whose courage and generosity saved the lives of many, including her own.

Based on the author’s mother’s own experiences as a hidden child in France during World War II, Catherine’s War is one of the most accessible historical graphic novels featuring a powerful girl since Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi—perfect for fans of Markus Zusak’s The Book Thief, Anne Frank, or Helen Keller.

Includes a map and photographs of the real Catherine and her wartime experiences, as well as an interview with author Julia Billet.

(POST-IT SAYS: This story of resistance and sacrifice provides another important view of WWII. Lovely art and strong themes of courage and connection will engage readers and back matter provides more info and context.)

What Lane? by Torrey Maldonado (ISBN-13: 9780525518433 Publisher: Penguin Young Readers Group Publication date: 04/14/2020, Ages 10-13)

“STAY IN YOUR LANE.” Stephen doesn’t want to hear that—he wants to have no lane.

Anything his friends can do, Stephen should be able to do too, right? So when they dare each other to sneak into an abandoned building, he doesn’t think it’s his lane, but he goes. Here’s the thing, though: Can he do everything his friends can? Lately, he’s not so sure. As a mixed kid, he feels like he’s living in two worlds with different rules—and he’s been noticing that strangers treat him differently than his white friends . . .

So what’ll he do? Hold on tight as Stephen swerves in and out of lanes to find out which are his—and who should be with him.

Torrey Maldonado, author of the highly acclaimed Tight, does a masterful job showing a young boy coming of age in a racially split world, trying to blaze a way to be his best self.

(POST-IT SAYS: An important addition to the growing number of middle grade books that address Black Lives Matter. About racism, friendship, being biracial, and allyship. The conversational tone and strong voice give this wide appeal.)

Banned Book Club by Kim Hyun Sook, Ryan Estrada, Hyung-Ju Ko (Illustrator) ( ISBN-13: 9781945820427 Publisher: Iron Circus Comics Publication date: 05/19/2020, Ages 14+)

When Kim Hyun Sook started college in 1983 she was ready for her world to open up. After acing her exams and sort-of convincing her traditional mother that it was a good idea for a woman to go to college, she looked forward to soaking up the ideas of Western Literature far from the drudgery she was promised at her family’s restaurant. But literature class would prove to be just the start of a massive turning point, still focused on reading but with life-or-death stakes she never could have imagined.

This was during South Korea’s Fifth Republic, a military regime that entrenched its power through censorship, torture, and the murder of protestors. In this charged political climate, with Molotov cocktails flying and fellow students disappearing for hours and returning with bruises, Hyun Sook sought refuge in the comfort of books. When the handsome young editor of the school newspaper invited her to his reading group, she expected to pop into the cafeteria to talk about Moby Dick, Hamlet, and The Scarlet Letter. Instead she found herself hiding in a basement as the youngest member of an underground banned book club. And as Hyun Sook soon discovered, in a totalitarian regime, the delights of discovering great works of illicit literature are quickly overshadowed by fear and violence as the walls close in.

In BANNED BOOK CLUB, Hyun Sook shares a dramatic true story of political division, fear-mongering, anti-intellectualism, the death of democratic institutions, and the relentless rebellion of reading.

(POST-IT SAYS: There’s a lot packed in here—censorship, activism, protest, Korean history, political unrest, propaganda, resistance, political awakening, and more. Add this look at 1980s South Korea to your lists and displays about youth activism.)

The Black Flamingo by Dean Atta (ISBN-13: 9780062990297 Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers Publication date: 05/26/2020, Ages 14+)

Stonewall Book Award Winner!

A fierce coming-of-age verse novel about identity and the power of drag, from acclaimed UK poet and performer Dean Atta. Perfect for fans of Elizabeth Acevedo, Jason Reynolds, and Kacen Callender.

Michael is a mixed-race gay teen growing up in London. All his life, he’s navigated what it means to be Greek-Cypriot and Jamaican—but never quite feeling Greek or Black enough.

As he gets older, Michael’s coming out is only the start of learning who he is and where he fits in. When he discovers the Drag Society, he finally finds where he belongs—and the Black Flamingo is born.

Told with raw honesty, insight, and lyricism, this debut explores the layers of identity that make us who we are—and allow us to shine.

(POST-IT SAYS: Absolutely perfect and beautiful and unforgettable, just like Michael. A powerful and affirming exploration of identity, sexuality, gender, and relationships. One of my favorite reads of 2020 so far.)

Post-It Note Reviews: Mythology, fencing, basketball, HIV, and more

School ended for me on June 5th. I gave myself two treats that day: I went to get bubble tea from my favorite local business and I picked up the library books that had been waiting for me at the public library for weeks and weeks. Our local library has been doing curbside pickup nearly the entire pandemic, a move I don’t agree with or think was in the best interest of the staff. But starting June 1st, more things began to open up here in Minnesota and I decided to do curbside pickup. I look forward to burning through my TBR list this summer as we won’t be traveling, I won’t be doing any summer library/summer school stuff, and while I should be writing, I know at least for now I only have the concentration to read, to get out of my own head and into world’s created by other people.

All descriptions from the publishers. Post-it note review follows the description.

Curse of the Night Witch by Alex Aster (ISBN-13: 9781492697206 Publisher: Sourcebooks Publication date: 06/09/2020 Series: Emblem Island Series #1, Ages 8-12)

A fast-paced series starter, perfect for fans of Aru Shah and the End of Time and filled with adventure, mythology, and an unforgettable trio of friends.

On Emblem Island all are born knowing their fate. Their lifelines show the course of their life and an emblem dictates how they will spend it.

Twelve-year-old Tor Luna was born with a leadership emblem, just like his mother. But he hates his mark and is determined to choose a different path for himself. So, on the annual New Year’s Eve celebration, where Emblemites throw their wishes into a bonfire in the hopes of having them granted, Tor wishes for a different power.

The next morning Tor wakes up to discover a new marking on his skin…the symbol of a curse that has shortened his lifeline, giving him only a week before an untimely death. There is only one way to break the curse, and it requires a trip to the notorious Night Witch.

With only his village’s terrifying, ancient stories as a guide, and his two friends Engle and Melda by his side, Tor must travel across unpredictable Emblem Island, filled with wicked creatures he only knows through myths, in a race against his dwindling lifeline.

(POST-IT SAYS: With courage and cooperation, Tor and friends use generations of stories to try to track down the Night Witch and change Tor’s story. A fast-paced and action-filled adventure full of friendship, magic, and monsters. An easy rec for fans of fantasy.)

Black Brother, Black Brother by Jewell Parker Rhodes (ISBN-13: 9780316493802 Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers Publication date: 03/03/2020, Ages 8-12)

From award-winning and bestselling author, Jewell Parker Rhodes comes a powerful coming-of-age story about two brothers, one who presents as white, the other as black, and the complex ways in which they are forced to navigate the world, all while training for a fencing competition.

Framed. Bullied. Disliked. But I know I can still be the best.

Sometimes, 12-year-old Donte wishes he were invisible. As one of the few black boys at Middlefield Prep, most of the students don’t look like him. They don’t like him either. Dubbing him “Black Brother,” Donte’s teachers and classmates make it clear they wish he were more like his lighter-skinned brother, Trey.

When he’s bullied and framed by the captain of the fencing team, “King” Alan, he’s suspended from school and arrested for something he didn’t do.

Terrified, searching for a place where he belongs, Donte joins a local youth center and meets former Olympic fencer Arden Jones. With Arden’s help, he begins training as a competitive fencer, setting his sights on taking down the fencing team captain, no matter what.

As Donte hones his fencing skills and grows closer to achieving his goal, he learns the fight for justice is far from over. Now Donte must confront his bullies, racism, and the corrupt systems of power that led to his arrest.

Powerful and emotionally gripping, Black Brother, Black Brother is a careful examination of the school-to-prison pipeline and follows one boy’s fight against racism and his empowering path to finding his voice.

(POST-IT SAYS: Get this book in the hands of a book club/literature circle. Readers will (hopefully) rage at the racism, bullying, and injustice. A quick read featuring a great family and a challenging and caring mentor. Will especially speak to biracial kids. Ages 8-12)

Dragon Hoops by Gene Luen Yang (ISBN-13: 9781626720794 Publisher: First Second Publication date: 03/17/2020, Ages 14-17)

In his latest graphic novel, Dragon HoopsNew York Times bestselling author Gene Luen Yang turns the spotlight on his life, his family, and the high school where he teaches.

Gene understands stories—comic book stories, in particular. Big action. Bigger thrills. And the hero always wins.

But Gene doesn’t get sports. As a kid, his friends called him “Stick” and every basketball game he played ended in pain. He lost interest in basketball long ago, but at the high school where he now teaches, it’s all anyone can talk about. The men’s varsity team, the Dragons, is having a phenomenal season that’s been decades in the making. Each victory brings them closer to their ultimate goal: the California State Championships.

Once Gene gets to know these young all-stars, he realizes that their story is just as thrilling as anything he’s seen on a comic book page. He knows he has to follow this epic to its end. What he doesn’t know yet is that this season is not only going to change the Dragons’s lives, but his own life as well.

(POST-IT SAYS: LOVED this! I 100% do not care about sports, but a well-written story will rope me in. An interesting memoir/biography/deep dive into one school’s team of mainly BIPOC athletes. Powerful, tense, and riveting.)

Rick by Alex Gino (ISBN-13: 9781338048100 Publisher: Scholastic, Inc. Publication date: 04/21/2020, Ages 8-12)

From the award-winning author of George, the story of a boy named Rick who needs to explore his own identity apart from his jerk of a best friend.

Rick’s never questioned much. He’s gone along with his best friend Jeff even when Jeff’s acted like a bully and a jerk. He’s let his father joke with him about which hot girls he might want to date even though that kind of talk always makes him uncomfortable. And he hasn’t given his own identity much thought, because everyone else around him seemed to have figured it out.

But now Rick’s gotten to middle school, and new doors are opening. One of them leads to the school’s Rainbow Spectrum club, where kids of many genders and identities congregate, including Melissa, the girl who sits in front of Rick in class and seems to have her life together. Rick wants his own life to be that . . . understood. Even if it means breaking some old friendships and making some new ones.

As they did in their groundbreaking novel GEORGE, in RICK, award-winning author Alex Gino explores what it means to search for your own place in the world . . . and all the steps you and the people around you need to take in order to get where you need to be.

(POST-IT SAYS: This book should be in all collections because of the focus on a group of LGBTQIAP+ middle schoolers, how characters stand up to bullying and homophobia, and the asexual representation. Not the most well-written book, but covers important ground. Ages 8-12)

American as Paneer Pie by Supriya Kelkar (ISBN-13: 9781534439382 Publisher: Aladdin Publication date: 06/09/2020, Ages 8-12)

An Indian American girl navigates prejudice in her small town and learns the power of her own voice in this brilliant gem of a middle grade novel full of humor and heart, perfect for fans of Front Desk and Amina’s Voice.

As the only Indian American kid in her small town, Lekha Divekar feels like she has two versions of herself: Home Lekha, who loves watching Bollywood movies and eating Indian food, and School Lekha, who pins her hair over her bindi birthmark and avoids confrontation at all costs, especially when someone teases her for being Indian.

When a girl Lekha’s age moves in across the street, Lekha is excited to hear that her name is Avantika and she’s Desi, too! Finally, there will be someone else around who gets it. But as soon as Avantika speaks, Lekha realizes she has an accent. She’s new to this country, and not at all like Lekha.

To Lekha’s surprise, Avantika does not feel the same way as Lekha about having two separate lives or about the bullying at school. Avantika doesn’t take the bullying quietly. And she proudly displays her culture no matter where she is: at home or at school.

When a racist incident rocks Lekha’s community, Lekha realizes she must make a choice: continue to remain silent or find her voice before it’s too late.

(POST-IT SAYS: Wide appeal—deals with common middle school issues like bullying, exclusion, and changing friendships. An easy rec for those who liked Amina’s Voice, Count Me In, and Wishtree. A great read full of warmth.)

You Say It First by Katie Cotugno (ISBN-13: 9780062674128 Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers Publication date: 06/16/2020, Ages 13-17)

An addictive, irresistible YA novel about two teens from different worlds who fall for each other after a voter registration call turns into a long-distance romance—from Katie Cotugno, the New York Times bestselling author of 99 Days. Perfect for fans of Mary H.K. Choi, Robin Benway, and Nicola Yoon.

One conversation can change everything.

Meg has her entire life set up perfectly: she and her best friend, Emily, plan to head to Cornell together in the fall, and she works at a voter registration call center in her Philadelphia suburb. But everything changes when one of those calls connects her to a stranger from small-town Ohio.

Colby is stuck in a rut, reeling from a family tragedy and working a dead-end job. The last thing he has time for is some privileged rich girl preaching the sanctity of the political process. So he says the worst thing he can think of and hangs up.

But things don’t end there.…

That night on the phone winds up being the first in a series of candid, sometimes heated, always surprising conversations that lead to a long-distance friendship and then—slowly—to something more. Across state lines and phone lines, Meg and Colby form a once-in-a-lifetime connection. But in the end, are they just too different to make it work?

You Say It First is a propulsive, layered novel about how sometimes the person who has the least in common with us can be the one who changes us most.

(POST-IT SAYS: A quick read that will appeal to those that like a rocky road to romance. The two white main characters connect despite their differences and learn from each other. Though Meg is politically passionate, politics plays a smaller role than I’d thought/hoped they would.)

The Only Black Girls in Town by Brandy Colbert (ISBN-13: 9780316456388 Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers Publication date: 03/10/2020, Ages 10-13)

Award-winning YA author Brandy Colbert’s debut middle-grade novel about the only two black girls in town who discover a collection of hidden journals revealing shocking secrets of the past.

Beach-loving surfer Alberta has been the only black girl in town for years. Alberta’s best friend, Laramie, is the closest thing she has to a sister, but there are some things even Laramie can’t understand. When the bed and breakfast across the street finds new owners, Alberta is ecstatic to learn the family is black-and they have a 12-year-old daughter just like her.

Alberta is positive she and the new girl, Edie, will be fast friends. But while Alberta loves being a California girl, Edie misses her native Brooklyn and finds it hard to adapt to small-town living.

When the girls discover a box of old journals in Edie’s attic, they team up to figure out exactly who’s behind them and why they got left behind. Soon they discover shocking and painful secrets of the past and learn that nothing is quite what it seems.

(POST-IT SAYS: Huge fan of Colbert’s YA books and this MG debut is just as fantastic. A great look at managing new and old friendships, racism, and Black history. I loved Al’s dads and Edie’s mom and the diary/mystery element. One of the best books I’ve read lately.)

A Good Kind of Trouble by Lisa Moore Ramée (ISBN-13: 9780062836687 Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers Publication date: 03/12/2019, Ages 9-12)

From debut author Lisa Moore Ramée comes this funny and big-hearted debut middle grade novel about friendship, family, and standing up for what’s right, perfect for fans of Angie Thomas’s The Hate U Give and the novels of Renée Watson and Jason Reynolds.

Twelve-year-old Shayla is allergic to trouble. All she wants to do is to follow the rules. (Oh, and she’d also like to make it through seventh grade with her best friendships intact, learn to run track, and have a cute boy see past her giant forehead.)

But in junior high, it’s like all the rules have changed. Now she’s suddenly questioning who her best friends are and some people at school are saying she’s not black enough. Wait, what?

Shay’s sister, Hana, is involved in Black Lives Matter, but Shay doesn’t think that’s for her. After experiencing a powerful protest, though, Shay decides some rules are worth breaking. She starts wearing an armband to school in support of the Black Lives movement. Soon everyone is taking sides. And she is given an ultimatum.

Shay is scared to do the wrong thing (and even more scared to do the right thing), but if she doesn’t face her fear, she’ll be forever tripping over the next hurdle. Now that’s trouble, for real.

(POST-IT SAYS: As much about the Black Lives Matter movement as it is about friendship, identity, courage, and finding your voice. A little slow to really get going, but the engaging and multifaceted characters will keep readers reading.)

We Didn’t Ask for This by Adi Alsaid (ISBN-13: 9781335146762 Publisher: Inkyard Press Publication date: 04/07/2020, Ages 13-17)

From Adi Alsaid, the acclaimed author of Let’s Get LostNever Sometimes Always, and North of Happy

Every year, lock-in night changes lives. This year, it might just change the world.

Central International School’s annual lock-in is legendary — and for six students, this year’s lock-in is the answer to their dreams. The chance to finally win the contest. Kiss the guy. Make a friend. Become the star of a story that will be passed down from student to student for years to come.

But then a group of students, led by Marisa Cuevas, stage an eco-protest and chain themselves to the doors, vowing to keep everyone trapped inside until their list of demands is met. While some students rally to the cause, others are devastated as they watch their plans fall apart. And Marisa, once so certain of her goals, must now decide just how far she’ll go to attain them.

(POST-IT SAYS: I love bottle episodes! A great concept—locked in the school for a week—full of diverse and interesting characters. I devoured this, loving all the new relationships and truths that spring up when you’re trapped together.)

Full Disclosure by Camryn Garrett (ISBN-13: 9781984829955 Publisher: Random House Children’s Books Publication date: 10/29/2019, Ages 14-17)

Simone Garcia-Hampton is starting over at a new school, and this time things will be different. She’s making real friends, making a name for herself as student director of Rent, and making a play for Miles, the guy who makes her melt every time he walks into a room. The last thing she wants is for word to get out that she’s HIV-positive, because last time . . . well, last time things got ugly.
Keeping her viral load under control is easy, but keeping her diagnosis under wraps is not so simple. As Simone and Miles start going out for real—shy kisses escalating into much more—she feels an uneasiness that goes beyond butterflies. She knows she has to tell him that she’s positive, especially if sex is a possibility, but she’s terrified of how he’ll react! And then she finds an anonymous note in her locker: I know you have HIV. You have until Thanksgiving to stop hanging out with Miles. Or everyone else will know too.
Simone’s first instinct is to protect her secret at all costs, but as she gains a deeper understanding of the prejudice and fear in her community, she begins to wonder if the only way to rise above is to face the haters head-on.

(POST-IT SAYS: A really important book. Not a lot of representation yet of teens living with HIV. Full of typical teenage self-discovery complicated by Simone’s feelings about sharing her truth. Powerful and covers important ground.)