From the author of the “Pearls Before Swine” comic strip and New York Times bestselling Timmy Failure series comes a laugh-out-loud, heartwarming, full-color graphic novel series about a quirky town—just right for young readers starting to read longer books! Wendy the Wanderer has lived in Trubble Town her whole life but never had the chance to go exploring. For this reason, she thinks she was definitely misnamed. Her dad likes to know where she is to make sure she’s safe, so she’s never been anywhere on her own. Then, her dad leaves on a trip and the babysitter doesn’t reinforce all the usual rules. Or any of the usual rules! Suddenly, Wendy is free to do what she wants, and what she wants is to live up to her name…and find Trubble. Turns out, there’s lots going on in Trubble Town. As she encounters endearingly goofy animals and hilariously hapless townsfolk, Wendy’s very first adventure takes more twists and turns than she could have ever expected. She learns some really valuable life lessons and even teaches a few of her own.
Thoughts and Themes: I tend to enjoy reading middle grade graphic novels since they tend to be funny and cute in their own way and this was no different. I think that grades 2-5 would really enjoy this type of book and the randomness of each of the stories. I think the ending of each of the chapters would intrigue them as well rather than my reaction of ummmm why did that just happen?
I love how all the important people in this town are all animals and how few of the characters involved are people. It just makes for an interesting story as you wonder if this is an imaginary town that the girl made up because she is trapped inside due to the protective father.
Characters: In this book you get introduced to Wendy who is one of the main characters of the story but there are portions in which you think that Squirrely is our main character. I really enjoyed the chapters that focused on the Squirrel and the way the people in Trubble Town thought of him as a nuisance.
While the whole thing seems very random, there are pieces in the chapters that connect the characters together. That was something that I really enjoyed about this book, I liked how there was something that connected the whole book together rather than it seeming like random snippets of a story.
Writing and Art Style: I really liked how this story goes from one box to another and it makes it easy to follow. I also like the way each of the characters are drawn and how easy it is to tell each of them apart from one another.
Something else that I liked about this book was the chapter names since I thought they were each unique and funny. I liked that they aren’t clear about what is going to happen in each chapter as it adds to the randomness of this book.
STEPHAN PASTIS is an attorney turned cartoonist. A graduate of the University of California, Berkeley, and the UCLA School of Law, he worked as a lawyer before trying his hand at cartooning. Pastis lives in the Bay Area, with his wife and two children.
After a terrible political coup usurps their noble house, Hawke and Grayson flee to stay alive and assume new identities, Hanna and Grayce. Desperation and chance lead them to the Communion of Blue, an order of magical women who spin the threads of reality to their will.
As the twins learn more about the Communion, and themselves, they begin to hatch a plan to avenge their family and retake their royal home. While Hawke wants to return to his old life, Grayce struggles to keep the threads of her new life from unraveling, and realizes she wants to stay in the one place that will allow her to finally live as a girl.
Thoughts and Themes: I am so glad that I picked this book up randomly at the library when I saw it. I really enjoyed so much about this book and am glad I took the chance with it. I really didn’t expect a middle-grade novel to be this emotional and hard-hitting.
I really enjoyed the way this book covers Grayce’s exploration of her gender. I thought that this was done in a good manner and I liked how supportive everyone was of her exploration.
I liked the magic elements that are include din this story but I wanted more of the world-building. I wanted more of why the Communion of Blue exists and the different types of girls that are in there. This is a short book so I understand that it couldn’t cover everything, so I hope that we get to see more of these characters and this world.
Characters: In this book you get introduced to a few different characters through their interactions with the main characters, Grayce and Hawke. I liked each of the characters that you meet in the Communion of Blue and how they worked with Grayce and Hawke to avenge their family.
Writing and Art Style: I really enjoyed the colors that were included in this story and how distinct it was when they were in the Communion of Blue vs being in other settings. I loved how vibrant the different shades of Blue were and how using only a few shades of colors, really catches your eye.
Artist, writer, lover of fine comics (and some pretty trashy ones too). Niki Smith grew up in Kansas and now calls Germany home, and is dedicated to filling the world with queer and diverse stories.
Laurel Gale writes books for children. Her middle grade novels include Dead Boy and Story Magic. She lives with her husband and their ferrets in Washington. In addition to writing, she enjoys hiking, playing board games, and reading. She loves animals and is easily distracted by squirrels. You can visit Laurel online at laurelgale.com or on Twitter at @laurel_gale.
A darkly funny and literary debut novel about a dead boy named Crow who has a chance at friendship – and a chance at getting his life back
Just because you’re dead doesn’t mean you don’t deserve a life.
Crow Darlingson isn’t like other kids. He stinks. He’s got maggots. His body parts fall off at inopportune moments. (His mom always sews them back on, though.) And he hasn’t been able to sleep in years. Not since waking up from death.
But worse than the maggots is how lonely Crow feels. When Melody Plympton moves in next door, Crow can’t resist the chance to finally make a friend. With Melody around he may even have a shot at getting his life back from the mysterious wish-granting creature living in the park. But first there are tests to pass. And it will mean risking the only friend he’s had in years.
Thoughts and Themes: I found this book in the pile of books my cousins have and since it was the closest to me I started reading it. I was invested in the poor lonely main character from the first few pages so I rented the audiobook from the library.
This is a cute middle grade read that I think children ages 10+ would enjoy but its also a great story for adults to read. I really like how this book feels a lot like frankenweenie or monster house. I found that this book read like a middle grade horror story which isn’t too scary for children but includes a bit of the mystery that is fun to read.
Characters: Right from the start we feel bad for our main character because he’s dead but some how is still alive. I felt bad for him because his parents only want to protect him from everyone but he wants to get to live the life he has now been given. All Crow wants is the chance to make friends with other kids his age, and he gets that chance when he meets Melody.
Writing Style: This book is written in third person through the perspective of Crow. I really liked that the story was told through Crow’s perspective because it read like a middle schooler and you can feel his pain throughout the story. I also really liked how you could feel how lonely he felt through each scene and how he felt about his particular situation.
I listened to this one on audio and really enjoyed the narrator to the story. I liked how easy it was to listen to and follow along with. I liked that you could tell which character was the one speaking and how they each had a distinct tone.
I am thrilled to be hosting a spot on the KYLE’S LITTLE SISTER by BonHyung Jeong Blog Tour hosted by Rockstar Book Tours. Check out my post and make sure to enter the giveaway!
BonHyung Jeong (Bon) studied Cartooning at the School of Visual Arts in New York, and Kyle’s Little Sister is her debut graphic novel, made possible with the help of numerous people. She hopes to make connections with others through relatable stories. Currently living in Korea, she’s always busy playing console games – exactly like someone in the book!
My name is Grace, not “Kyle’s little sister!” Having a good-looking, friendly, outgoing older brother sucks—especially when you’re the total opposite, someone who likes staying home and playing video games. Your parents like him better (even if they deny it!), and everyone calls you “Kyle’s little sister” while looking disappointed that you’re not more like him. I was really hoping I’d get to go to a different middle school, but no such luck. At least I have my friends…until he finds a way to ruin that, too…! Argh! What do I have to do to get out of his shadow?!
3 winners will receive a finished copy of KYLE’S LITTLE SISTER, US Only.
Themes and Thoughts: I really enjoy reading middle grade books and graphic novels are the best because they are quick to read and easy to get through. I really enjoyed how short each of these chapters are and how this book focuses on friendship and family relationships. I liked getting a chance to see the main character’s feelings about being Kyle’s little sister and loved how the characters read as their age.
While this book focuses on relationships with people and how those shift during middle school. I liked that both of our characters are in middle school so we get to see how siblings feel towards each other, both one being a younger sibling and the other as an older sibling. I also really liked how we got to see both sides of their sibling relationship, so we see them fighting but we also see the love that they have for each other.
Characters: I loved getting the chance to meet Grace and Kyle through this book and liked the interactions that we get of them with their set of friends. I liked how we see how Kyle’s friends see Grace as his little sister and even some of her new friends view her this way. I liked getting to see how Grace’s friends don’t view her this way even if she worries that everyone only liked her because of her relationship to Kyle.
Writing Style/Art: I decided that in order to keep my review style the same, I would use this area to comment on both the writing as well as the art style when talking about graphic novels. I thought that the art was really cute and I liked how child like the characters look. There was never a time in which I confused the age for the characters and I also liked how diverse the characters were. I liked how each of the side characters looked different from each other.
Graci Kim is a Korean-Kiwi diplomat turned author who writes about the magic she wants to see in the world. When she’s not lost in her imagination, she’s drinking flat whites, eating ramyeon, and most likely hugging a dog (or ideally, many). She lives in New Zealand with her husband and daughter.
Riley Oh can’t wait to see her sister get initiated into the Gom clan, a powerful lineage of Korean healing witches their family has belonged to for generations. Her sister, Hattie, will earn her Gi bracelet and finally be able to cast spells without adult supervision. Although Riley is desperate to follow in her sister’s footsteps when she herself turns thirteen, she’s a saram–a person without magic. Riley was adopted, and despite having memorized every healing spell she’s ever heard, she often feels like the odd one out in her family and the gifted community.
Then Hattie gets an idea: what if the two of them could cast a spell that would allow Riley to share Hattie’s magic? Their sleuthing reveals a promising incantation in the family’s old spell book, and the sisters decide to perform it at Hattie’s initiation ceremony. If it works, no one will ever treat Riley as an outsider again. It’s a perfect plan!
Until it isn’t. When the sisters attempt to violate the laws of the Godrealm, Hattie’s life ends up hanging in the balance, and to save her Riley has to fulfill an impossible task: find the last fallen star. But what even is the star, and how can she find it?
As Riley embarks on her search, she finds herself meeting fantastic creatures and collaborating with her worst enemies. And when she uncovers secrets that challenge everything she has been taught to believe, Riley must decide what it means to be a witch, what it means to be family, and what it really means to belong.
Thanks Disney Books for the advanced reader’s copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.
Thoughts and Themes: As far as I can remember, I haven’t read a book about mythology so I was a bit skeptical going into this one. I wish I hadn’t been though because the minute I started reading this one, I couldn’t put it down.
I really liked the way that world building is done in this book, world building is usually one of the things that make it hard for me to read fantasy or sci-fi. This book does a great job of including the world building along with the story. I like how it is seemlessly inserted throughout, you get a bit of world building as the story progresses.
I also really like how this story takes place in Los Angeles, but it includes magic and hiding that magic from Saram (people without magic). I thought that the setting was perfect and liked how this magic was happening in front of others but Saram had no clue that this was happening.
I didn’t see the twist near the end of the book happening and I think that really made me want to read more of this story. I am glad that this is only book 1 of this series because I need more of the story and all of the characters.
Characters: Through this book you get introduced to a few characters through the interactions that they have with Riley. You get to meet Hattie, her sister and Emmet, her best friend, along with different members of her family. You also get to meet several mythical creatures, and people from the different clans.
I really liked getting to meet different people that are a part of the different types of clans. I loved getting to see how they all interacted with each other and how they all come together in the end for the greater good.
I loved our main character, I really liked how she developed through the course of the story, and how she came into her own. I really liked how she made certain decisions throughout the story, and how she used the motto of her clan for those decisions. I’m being very vague because a lot of the character’s development has to do with main plot points of the story that I don’t want to give away.
I also really liked all of the mythical beings that we got to meet throughout Riley’s adventure. It was so cool to learn about these creatures, and see the role they play in the story and RIley’s life. I have heard about these creatures before but never really knew what they meant to people and it was great to see what they meant to each clan.
I am so excited to get a chance to be a part of this book tour hosted by TBRandBeyondTours . Make sure you check out the rest of the posts that are a part of this tour by looking at the schedule for the tour found here.
Tori Sharp is a Seattle-based author-illustrator and swing and blues dancer with a BFA in sequential art from SCAD. You can find her online at http://www.noveltori.com and on Twitter @noveltori. Just Pretend is her debut graphic novel.
Fans of Real Friends and Be Prepared will love this energetic, affecting graphic memoir, in which a young girl uses her active imagination to navigate middle school as well as the fallout from her parents’ divorce.
Tori has never lived in just one world.
Since her parents’ divorce, she’s lived in both her mom’s house and her dad’s new apartment. And in both places, no matter how hard she tries, her family still treats her like a little kid. Then there’s school, where friendships old and new are starting to feel more and more out of her hands.
Thankfully, she has books-and writing. And now the stories she makes up in her head just might save her when everything else around her—friendships, school, family—is falling apart.
Author Tori Sharp takes us with her on a journey through the many commonplace but complex issues of fractured families, as well as the beautiful fantasy narrative that helps her cope, gorgeously illustrated and full of magic, fairies, witches and lost and found friendships.
When I pick up graphic novels I have realized that I tend to pick up middle grade ones as the art style is cute and colorful. This one is great for younger readers who are in grades 5-8, and I think its a good one for adults to read as well. My review for this one will look a bit different since it is a graphic novel so there is different things to talk about.
There were so many things in the book that reminded me of being that age and just kind of dealing with the many adjustments that were happening. I like that the story wasn’t really linear and it was all over the place because it was very much like a 12 year old’s mind. I think that the characters were quite realistic, and the way the siblings acted with each other was fun to read. I liked how the siblings didn’t really get along but then there were also moments in which the sister was supporting Tori.
Something else that I really enjoyed about this book was the ending when the author shared some pieces about herself with us. I liked that we got to learn about the process in writing this story and also how the book is a lot of the memories that she has.
In this book there are several characters that are introduced to you as Tori interacts with them. You really get to know Tori’s family and her best friend through this book which was something that I enjoyed. I liked how real her parents were and how we got to see how their separation affected each of the children.
I really liked the art style of this story and liked the drastic change in reading the book and then going to the story that Tori was writing through this time. I really liked how this book uses writing as an escape from reality. I thought that was very real for a lot of people but especially for that age range. It reminded me of how much I used to write in middle school and early high school just to escape what was currently happening.
Hannah Gold worked in the film and magazine industries before taking time out to pursue her dream of writing. She lives in Lincolnshire with her tortoise, her cat and her husband. This is her middle grade debut.
In this instant literary classic about friendship, forging your own path, and doing what’s right, debut author Hannah Gold inspires fans of Pax and A Wolf Called Wander to make a difference in any way they can.
There are no polar bears left on Bear Island. At least, that’s what April’s father tells her when his scientific research takes them to a faraway Arctic outpost.
But one night, April catches a glimpse of something distinctly bear shaped loping across the horizon. A polar bear who shouldn’t be there—who is hungry, lonely and a long way from home.
Fusing environmental awareness with a touching story of kindness, The Last Bear will include full-page black-and-white illustrations as well as a note from the author with facts about the real Bear Island and the plight of the polar bears.
Thank you to Harper Collins for the advanced copy of the book in exchange for my honest review.
Thoughts and Themes: This book tackles several themes throughout the story but the main one is of climate change. I think that this book also focuses on family and friendship throughout the story and have found these to be prominent themes in middle grade books.
I really like how this book focuses on climate change and shows this through the polar bear in this story. I like how you see not just the polar bear but also hear the conversations that April has with her dad about the weather. I like that we get to have the dad explain what his job is at this place and how the changes in the weather affect the rest of the world.
I would recommend this to those of you looking for something to read with your children, or something that your kids could read. This book is a great introduction to environmental issues for children ages 7+.
Characters: Throughout this story you are introduced to three main characters and a few side characters. The side characters add a little bit to the story and assist in moving the story forward but they are there as filler. The important characters are April, an eleven year old girl, her dad, and Bear.
I liked the relationship that was depicted between April and Bear throughout this story and how it slowly developed over time. I thought the story between April and Bear felt like something completely out of this world which made it such a good story. I liked that it felt like we were in a different world whenever these two interacted with each other and liked how much love was put into their relationship.
Writing Style: This story is told through third person through April’s perspective. I really liked how we were seeing things through her perspective and how small she was in comparison to the space she was in. I liked that we got to feel small along with her through her interactions with Bear and also with her dad. I thought that having the story told in her perspective really added another layer to the whole thing and made it feel imaginary at some times.
Carol Cujec is an educator and author. Her latest book, written with Peyton Goddard, is a middle-grade novel, called Real, which invites young readers into the world of a girl with nonspeaking autism. Peyton wants kids to understand autism not as a disability so much as a different way of experiencing the world. Real is a groundbreaking story that celebrates the magic that happens when we value and include all people.
Carol lives with her family in southern California and enjoys yoga, cooking, playing guitar with her daughter and, of course, hiding out with a good book
Peyton Goddard was born to Patrick and Dianne Goddard on December 26, 1974, in San Diego, California. She was the second of two children. From the age of three, Peyton was deemed unfit to attend classes with “normal” kids because of her inability to speak or control her physical movements or bodily functions.
For two decades, she was segregated in schools with no appropriate accommodations for her learning, which only exacerbated her movement challenges and led to increasingly restrictive placements and social exclusion. During her years in the special education system, she experienced the unrelenting traumatic stress of daily being unable to obey the commands of her instructors, who viewed her as purposely “non-compliant.” She was the victim of aversive restraints, punitive seclusion, and physical, mental, and sexual abuse. Unable to tell her parents of this abuse, she could express herself only through self-destructive behaviors.
However, on March 21 of 1997, Peyton’s life changed dramatically when she was introduced to an innovative communication strategy called Facilitated Communication (FC), which uses applied resistance to enable intentional movement and communication through a keyboard or computer. Among her first words, Peyton typed, “i am intlgent.” For the first time, she had a reliable method for communicating with others and has since been supported by numerous trained facilitators. Peyton was finally able to request a real education and within a year found the courage to begin telling her parents about her experiences of abuse and neglect during her youth.
Peyton enrolled in Cuyamaca College in the fall of 1998. Four years later, she graduated as the valedictorian with a nearly 4.0 GPA and an Associate’s degree in General Studies, becoming the first person using supported typing to graduate valedictorian from a U.S. college.
Since then, Peyton has become an advocate for inclusion in education and society. Her wisdom is sought after by educators, doctors, parents and community groups nationwide, who have invited her to deliver more than 75 presentations at conferences and universities on the subject of esteeming all people. In 1995, she was awarded the Collaborative Advocacy Award from TASH, an international organization promoting inclusion and supported participation of persons with disabilities in all aspects of life. In 2003, Peyton was awarded CALTASH’s annual Mary Falvey Outstanding Young Person Award.
Peyton writes passionately about her experiences and offers a rare perspective of autism by someone labeled as “low functioning.” In l993, even before she learned to communicate using a keyboard, she made a vow to herself (she calls it her I.O.U.) that the rest of her life would be devoted to “quietly changing this worrisome world.” She knows that children are dying in institutions and at the hands of parents who have lost sight of their child’s value. Her story has been featured in numerous publications such as the San Diego Union-Tribune and she recently co-authored the foreword of a book for K-12 educators entitled Collaborating With Students in Instruction and Decision Making (Corwin Press, 2010). Peyton has completed her book, co-authored with her mother Dianne and Carol Cujec, entitled i am intelligent: A Mother and Daughter’s Journey from Heartbreak to Healing. Peyton considers i am intelligent, along with her continued advocacy, the fulfillment of her I.O.U.
My name is Charity. I am thirteen years old. Actually, thirteen years plus eighty-seven days. I love sour gummies and pepperoni pizza. That last part no one knows because I have not spoken a sentence since I was born. Each dawning day, I live in terror of my unpredictable body that no one understands.
Charity may have mad math skills and a near-perfect memory, but with a mouth that can’t speak and a body that jumps, rocks, and howls unpredictably, most people incorrectly assume she cannot learn. Charity’s brain works differently from most people’s because of her autism, but she’s still funny, determined, and kind. So why do people treat her like a disease or ignore her like she’s invisible?
When Charity’s parents enroll her in a public junior high school, she faces her greatest fears. Will kids make fun of her? Will her behavior get her kicked out? Will her million thoughts stay locked in her head forever? With the support of teachers and newfound friends, Charity will have to fight to be treated like a real student.
Inspired by a true story, Real speaks to all those who’ve ever felt they didn’t belong and reminds readers that all people are worthy of being included.
Thank you to Shadow Mountain Publishing for the advanced copy in exchange for a honest review.
Thoughts and Themes: This is a review that I really wanted to sit on and not write immediately because I have mixed feelings about this book. I also didn’t want to much time to pass that I forgot my thoughts about the book or that my feelings would simmer down way too much.
First and foremost I did actually enjoy this book and couldn’t put it down. I wanted to know what would happen to Charity and also how the story would develop. I think this is a great middle grade story for disabled children to relate to, and for educators to read and gain a different perspective. I love that this story is an own voices story so that adds a lot of value to the narrative.
There are discussions that do need to take place around this book as you read and when you are done with it though. I do think that this is one of those that you can’t just read and put aside and not think about what you just read. There were several themes that I got from this book that so far I haven’t seen in other reviews so I am unsure if I read the book wrong. I also have yet to read a review from another autistic reader so that could be the reason the book wasn’t criticized
For me, one of the things that I kept settling on was the idea that this book perpetuates that as long as a disabled child could learn then they are valuable to society. Autism occurs on a spectrum and this book kind of made it seem like depending on where you are on the spectrum dictates what you deserve from society. I was really frustrated with the plot focusing on how everyone thought Charity was dumb but actually she’s the smartest person at that school. It felt like oh because of this now she’s valuable and we can take on other disabled kids if they are like Charity. It really is hard to put my thoughts surrounding this into words and I would love to flesh this out with other Autistic people to see what they took away from the book.
Something else that didn’t sit right with me was how easily the people who abuse Charity were left off the hook by others and also by Charity. I really didn’t like how they made it seem like Charity has to be full of grace and forgiveness for others because “oh they just don’t know any better.” I really would’ve liked to see her actually express the original thoughts she had towards people who were abusive and ableist towards her.
There are some scenes in this book that really feel like inspiration porn, such as the scene at the end of the story as well as the scene where they bring up Jaz as part of the court. These scenes felt like they were tokenizing the disabled students as well as saying “if they can do it so can you.” It was just so frustrating to see this happen and not have anyone comment on it. In the start of the story, Charity would comment about the ableist things that others were doing but that stopped happening once she was able to express herself through her keyboard.
Characters: This is the easy part of this review to write because there are so many characters in this book that are loveable. There are also plenty of characters in this story who I just didn’t like and still didn’t like at the end. I really love the group of friends that Charity has at her school and love how different they all are from each other. I liked that we get to see different disabilities through each of these characters. I also liked how we got to see Charity interact with neurotypical people as well in school and at home.
I really loved Charity’s parents and how her mother always adovated for her until she was able to speak for herself. I liked that they did have Charity’s mom take a step back once Charity could speak and she only helped her express herlsef rather than speak for her. I also loved how her dad was supportive of everything she wanted to do and just wanted to help her do all she could.
There are several characters who are ableist towards Charity and they change once she is able to speak. My opinion of these characters did not change even after they were accepting of Charity because it showed that she wasn’t important to them until she could contribute like they did. It showed that disabled peoples weren’t going to be allowed to participate in society or be accepted unless they were able to contribute in the same way that those without intellectual disabilities can.
Writing Style: This story is written in first person and is told through the main character’s perspective. I really enjoyed this style of writing because we got to see what Charity was thinking before she was able to speak. I liked that we were able to also see her thoughts that were not said out loud. I also really liked that her actions were included as well as the random animal facts that were going through her head. It was interesting to see her thought process throughout the whole story.
Thank you to the author for a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.
Laura Segal Stegman is a Los Angeles-based arts publicist and author whose middle grade debut novel, Summer of L.U.C.K., was released in September 2020 by INtense Publications and will be followed by a sequel in 2021. Having grown up in Southern California with parents who valued reading, she remains spellbound by kidlit. Some of her favorite middle grade novels, then and now, are The Diamond in the Window, Ellen Tebbits, All of A Kind Family, Wonder, A Patron Saint for Junior Bridesmaids, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone and The Miraculous. Laura’s non-fiction credits include collaboration on the travel book Only in New York, and her feature stories have appeared in the Los Angeles Times, Los Angeles Magazine, Westways Magazine and Christian Science Monitor, among others. A long-time publicity consultant, she owns Laura Segal Stegman Public Relations, LLC, which has represented a wide-ranging client list of businesses, arts organizations and non-profit events over the years. She is a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of UC Irvine with a B.A. in Drama. Laura and her husband live in Los Angeles and part-time in New York City. She loves reading, L.A. Dodgers baseball, classical music and theater.
Stuttering Darby is never perfect enough for her mother. Justin’s been silent since his dad died. Naz is struggling to learn English. But after they meet at summer camp, mysterious calliope music from an abandoned warehouse grants them power to communicate without words. When they sneak inside, the dark, empty space bursts into a magical carnival. They’re greeted by the ghost of Leroy Usher, who asks for their help convincing his family to restore the carnival to its former glory. In return, he promises to teach the kids how to find their voices. As Darby, Justin, and Naz are swept off on a series of midnight adventures via Mr. Usher’s carnival rides, they discover they’re capable of more than they ever imagined. With each challenge, their confidence in communicating – and in themselves – grows. Meanwhile, they scheme to persuade the Usher family to revive the carnival. But when Darby’s bunkmates trick her into starring in the camp talent show, her budding confidence falters. Can she risk being less than perfect by performing in the show and speaking up to Mr. Usher’s resistant son? If not, she’ll put the carnival in danger and sabotage her most important quest: to believe in herself, stutter and all.
Thoughts and Themes: I think that this book is great for middle grade readers ages 10+. The fantasy elements to this story were really great and I loved the message that it taught in the end. I think this is a great book for young readers to read on their own or for a parent to read with their child. I also liked that this is a story that adults could enjoy and find things to take away as well.
I really enjoyed that this story teaches kids to embrace themselves and their differences. I like that it also shows the positive effect that friendship can have on someone and how your friends are there to support you when things are hard. I liked that the three children each had something different that they had to overcome yet these things brought them together.
Characters: There are three main characters, Darby, Justin, and Naz. You are also introduced to Mr. Usher and his children throughout the story. I really liked how Mr. Usher was introduced to the story and how these children build a relationship with him. I liked how the friendship between the children and Mr. Usher is developed and how he is used as a way to support them.
I also really liked the interactions that the children have with others at their camp. I thought it was great to see them overcome their challenges not just with each other but with other children. I liked that we got to see two settings in this story and not just the portion with Mr. Usher.
Writing Style: This story is told in third person and gives you three different main view points along with side viewpoints as well. It also goes back and forth from the present times and showing you some of the past with Mr. Usher’s children. I thought that it was great to see each of the children’s perspectives and see how different they were from each other yet how similar they were. I did find the pieces with the adults to be a little distracting from the rest of the story and could see children not being intrigued by those portions. I think that there isn’t too much of it though which was a plus for me and the parts that the adults interact with the children make the story come together.
About Elika Ansari: I am a writer, social scientist, and humanitarian professional. I have been working with NGOs across Greece for the past two years, and as such I have had the (mis)fortune of hearing many touching stories about hardship and perseverance. I try to focus my writing on globally relevant issues with the hope of one day making a difference through the stroke of the pen (or click of the keyboard), however small that may be. I have published 100+ reviews, articles, short stories and essays, and my debut children’s book, ‘Seacity Rising: A Tale of Unwatery Adventures’ was published on June 6th, 2019 by Black Rose Writing, and is being distributed worldwide.
Her other works has featured on The Underground Reporter, Your Middle East, Quantum Fairytales, Wordhaus, Tricycle, BlazeVox, ThreeWeeks Unlimited Media. She is also the accredited writer of the award-winning documentary film, ‘The Legacy of Menla’. As a speaker of four languages and someone who has lived in over 10 countries throughout her lifetime, the question she dreads the most but gets all the time is ‘Where are you from?’. Ansari currently lacks a stable home, but writing often provides the safe haven she needs.
When the underwater animals of Seacity pond learn that their home is in danger, they decide to investigate further by doing something no one has ever done before – go up to land to seek the answers they need. An unlikely team of two royal turtles, a genius goldfish and a timorous frog are then assembled to embark on a series of adventures. Whether they are racing the fastest tortoise on earth, falling in love with travelling mice theatre, or bringing peace to warring ant colonies, each unique experience is taking the group of friends closer to the heart of what is really going on. But will they make it back in time to save Seacity before the Winter’s Slumber?
Thoughts and Themes: While reading this book I had to keep in mind the age that it was written for. This book is written for a middle grade audience and I think that the story is well done for that population.
This book was difficult to get into because there was little action going on and a lot more introduction of the setting and characters. I found that the pacing of this story was too slow and we had too much of getting to know the animals in the pond and not enough development of the plot. This made it hard to stay interested in what was happening and nothing to keep me tied to want to know what would happen next.
Something that I did like about this book was the themes that it touched upon. I liked that it talked about friendship, confidence, teamwork, and environmental issues. I think this is a great book to use with early middle grade readers to introduce the consequences of the ways that we treat our environment. This is a great book to use in a science classroom to introduce many environmental issues and how those issues affect other live creatures.
Characters: The main character of the story is Babak the frog who comes across a mysterious message that he gets to the king. He goes on an adventure with some other creatures that live in the same habitat as him. I really liked each of the characters that are introduced throughout this story. I think that they each added a different perspective on things and liked how they worked together to accomplish their tasks.
I liked that this book introduced additional characters beyond the ones that were on the journey with Babak the frog. I really liked getting to see the main characters interact with other creatures that they were not familiar with. I also liked the differences between them knowing sea creatures and then meeting these land creatures.
Writing Style: This story is told in third person and tells you what animals would say about the changes going on around them if we were able to understand them. This story has images included throughout the story which add a nice touch as you are reading. The only thing that I had a hard time with when reading this story was the long chapters. I thought that these chapters were a little long for the age that it was intended for and found myself forgetting what was happening.