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Post-It Note Reviews: Friendship, ghosts, true stories, late-night adventures, 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.

Pawcasso by Remy Lai (ISBN-13: 9781250774491 Publisher: Henry Holt and Co. (BYR) Publication date: 05/25/2021, Ages 8-12)

Remy Lai, the award-winning creator of Pie in the Sky makes her middle-grade graphic novel debut, Pawcasso, about the unexpected friendship between the loneliest girl in class and the coolest canine in town.

Every Saturday, Pawcasso trots into town with a basket, a shopping list, and cash in paw to buy groceries for his family. One day, he passes eleven-year-old Jo, peering out the window of her house, bored and lonely. Astonished by the sight of an adorable basket-toting dog on his own, Jo follows Pawcasso, and when she’s seen alongside him by a group of kids from her school, they mistake her for Pawcasso’s owner. 

Excited to make new friends, Jo reluctantly hides the truth and agrees to let “her” dog model for an art class the kids attend. What could go wrong? But what starts as a Chihuahua-sized lie quickly grows Great Dane-sized when animal control receives complaints about a dog roaming the streets off-leash. With Pawcasso’s freedom at stake, is Jo willing to spill the truth and risk her new friendships?

(POST-IT SAYS: A great dog book AND a great friendship book. Jo, who is also angry and sad about how often her dad is gone for work, learns so much about friendship and community with the help of good dog Pawcasso.)

Metropolis Grove by Drew Brockington (ISBN-13: 9781779500533 Publisher: DC Comics Publication date: 05/04/2021, Ages 8-12)

Look, up in the sky!

The big city is full of Superman sightings, but here in Metropolis Grove? Every kid in this suburb knows that he’s not real…except newcomer Sonia Patel. She’d hoped that having a full summer in her new house would let her make some friends before school started, and it’s working! 

But if new pals Duncan and Alex don’t believe in a superhero she’s seen with her very own two eyes, will the school year be everything Sonia’s hoping for? Or will all her lonely fears be realized instead? Maybe she just needs to introduce her new friends to the super-strong, super-powered man who lives in the cave with all the super-memorabilia. 

Drew Brockington sends this trio into a school year full of drama and adventure…and more than a few opportunities for a newfound friendship to test its limits.

(POST-IT SAYS: Really fun fast-paced story with bright, appealing art. The 3 friends have lots of fun working on their fort and exploring the woods. Sonia’s efforts to “train” Bizarro are hilarious.)

Too Bright to See by Kyle Lukoff (ISBN-13: 9780593111154 Publisher: Penguin Young Readers Group Publication date: 04/20/2021, Ages 10-12)

A haunting ghost story about navigating grief, growing up, and growing into a new gender identity

It’s the summer before middle school and eleven-year-old Bug’s best friend Moira has decided the two of them need to use the next few months to prepare. For Moira, this means figuring out the right clothes to wear, learning how to put on makeup, and deciding which boys are cuter in their yearbook photos than in real life. But none of this is all that appealing to Bug, who doesn’t particularly want to spend more time trying to understand how to be a girl. Besides, there’s something more important to worry about: A ghost is haunting Bug’s eerie old house in rural Vermont…and maybe haunting Bug in particular. As Bug begins to untangle the mystery of who this ghost is and what they’re trying to say, an altogether different truth comes to light—Bug is transgender.

(POST-IT SAYS: What a lovely, heartfelt, affirming story. As much about grief and friendship as it is about coming out as trans. An essential read—the acceptance, hope, and love highlight the joy in being your true self.)

Trillium Sisters 1: The Triplets Get Charmed by Laura Brown, Elly Kramer, Sarah Mensinga (Illustrator) (ISBN-13: 9781645950158 Publisher: Holiday House Publication date: 06/01/2021 Series: Trillium Sisters, Ages 7-9)

Three sisters discover that they and their pets have superpowers they can use to protect the world around them in the first book in a fantastical new chapter book series about family, friendship, and environmental responsibility perfect for fans of Mia Mayhem and The Wish Fairy.

Nothing can stop this triple team!

Eight-year-old triplets Emmy, Clare, and Giselle are excited to celebrate Founding Day, the day their dad found them and they became a family. The girls want this year’s celebration to be extra special. And Dad has a big sur¬prise—trillium petal charms that he found with the girls. 

But when the girls’ little brother, Zee, slips into the river while helping them plan a special surprise, something magical happens: The charms are drawn together, forming a glowing flower, and the girls suddenly have super¬powers! Channeling their new abilities, they work together to try to save Zee, but will they be able to figure out how to help in time?

(POST-IT SAYS: Young readers who like the outdoors, cute animals, and magic will enjoy this cheerful, undemanding series. Large print and lots of art make for a fast read.)

Accused: My Story of Injustice by Adama Bah, Dave Eggers (Editor), Zainab Nasrati (Editor), Zoe Ruiz (Editor), Amanda Uhle (Editor) (ISBN-13: 9781324016632 Publisher: Norton Young Readers Publication date: 08/03/2021 Series: I, Witness Series #1, Ages 9-12)

Launching a propulsive middle grade nonfiction series, a young woman shares her harrowing experience of being wrongly accused of terrorism.

Adama Bah grew up in East Harlem after immigrating from Conakry, Guinea, and was deeply connected to her community and the people who lived there. But as a thirteen-year-old after the events of September 11, 2001, she began experiencing discrimination and dehumanization as prejudice toward Muslim people grew. Then, on March 24, 2005, FBI agents arrested Adama and her father. Falsely accused of being a potential suicide bomber, Adama spent weeks in a detention center being questioned under suspicion of terrorism.

With sharp and engaging writing, Adama recounts the events surrounding her arrest and its impact on her life—the harassment, humiliation, and persecution she faced for crimes she didn’t commit. Accusedbrings forward a crucial and unparalleled first-person perspective of American culture post-9/11 and the country’s discrimination against Muslim Americans, and heralds the start of a new series of compelling narrative nonfiction by young people, for young people.

(POST-IT SAYS: Unsurprisingly, a very upsetting look at Islamophobia, detainment, bravery, and perseverance. Told in a simple, straight-forward, effective way. Publisher suggests 9-12 for audience, but I’d say 11-14.)

Hurricane: My Story of Resilience by Salvador Gomez-Colon, Dave Eggers (Editor), Zainab Nasrati (Editor), Zoe Ruiz (Editor), Amanda Uhle (Editor) (ISBN-13: 9781324016656 Publisher: Norton Young Readers Publication date: 08/03/2021 Series: I, Witness Series #2, Ages 9-12)

Launching a propulsive middle grade nonfiction series, a young man shares how he combated Puerto Rico’s public health emergency after Hurricane Maria.

Suffering heavy damage in the wake of Hurricane Maria in 2017, Puerto Rican communities lacked access to clean water and electricity. Salvador Gómez-Colón couldn’t ignore the basic needs of his homeland, and knew that nongovernmental organizations and larger foreign philanthropies could only do so much. With unstoppable energy and a deep knowledge of local culture, Salvador founded Light and Hope for Puerto Rico and raised more than $100,000 to purchase and distribute solar-powered lamps and hand-powered washing machines to households in need.

With a voice that is both accessible and engaging, Salvador recalls living through the catastrophic storm and grappling with the destruction it left behind. Hurricane brings forward a captivating first-person account of strength, resilience, and determination, and heralds the start of a new series of compelling narrative nonfiction by young people, for young people.

(POST-IT SAYS: A harrowing look at living through a hurricane and the aftermath. The author’s activism to raise money to help people around him is inspirational. This compelling read would be made even more so if photos had been included.)

Up All Night: 13 Stories between Sunset and Sunrise by Laura Silverman (Editor) (ISBN-13: 9781643750415 Publisher: Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill Publication date: 07/13/2021, Ages 12-18)

When everyone else goes to bed, the ones who stay up feel like they’re the only people in the world. As the hours tick by deeper into the night, the familiar drops away and the unfamiliar beckons. Adults are asleep, and a hush falls over the hum of daily life. Anything is possible.

It’s a time for romance and adventure. For prom night and ghost hunts. It’s a time for breaking up, for falling in love—for finding yourself.

Stay up all night with these thirteen short stories from bestselling and award-winning YA authors like Karen McManus, Tiffany D. Jackson, Nina LaCour, and Brandy Colbert, as they take readers deep into these rarely seen, magical hours.

Full contributor list: Brandy Colbert, Kathleen Glasgow, Maurene Goo, Tiffany D. Jackson, Amanda Joy, Nina LaCour, Karen M. McManus, Anna Meriano, Marieke Nijkamp, Laura Silverman, Kayla Whaley, Julian Winters, Francesca Zappia.

(POST-IT SAYS: Fun anthology! Mix of genres, identities, and late night hijinks. Games, storms, bonfires, homes, dance, rooftops, and more are settings for these stories of what teens get up to at night.)

The History of Western Art in Comics Part One: From Prehistory to the Renaissance by Marion Augustin, Bruno Heitz (Illustrator) (ISBN-13: 9780823446469 Publisher: Holiday House Publication date: 07/20/2021, Ages 10+)

Learning about art through the ages has never been as interesting or fun as in this humorous and very informative graphic novel.

As two kids give their grandpa a tour of Paris, he starts an interesting conversation with them—about where all the art they see in their lives—from the movie house to the stadiums to museums and even the subway— started. Dad’s impromptu history lesson goes back to the first Cavemen drawings to the pyramids of Giza, and by the end of the book includes Greco-Roman feats of ingenuity and the frescoes of the Renaissance. Recounted as a narrative about why different civilizations created different kinds of art, centuries of art history are explored entertainingly for young readers. Iconic works, such as Donatello’s David and The Book of Kells, are included as well as architectural feats like the Colosseum. 

Written by a tour guide for museums and historic landmarks, the text is designed to entertain (with many funny asides and jokes) as it informs. The illustrations accurately portray the art and the artists described, with flavor and humor added to keep readers turning the page. Reproductions of the featured artworks and information about each piece are included in the back, along with a glossary of terms.

(POST-IT SAYS: Absolutely crammed with art and information. A deep exploration of history, technique, meaning, significance, style, and influences. Educational and entertaining. A great, if slightly overwhelming, look at art in context.)