Obie is Man Enough by Schuyler Bailar Book Review

Book Description

 coming-of-age story about transgender tween Obie, who didn’t think being himself would cause such a splash. For fans of Alex Gino’s George and Lisa Bunker’s Felix Yz.

Obie knew his transition would have ripple effects. He has to leave his swim coach, his pool, and his best friends. But it’s time for Obie to find where he truly belongs.

As Obie dives into a new team, though, things are strange. Obie always felt at home in the water, but now he can’t get his old coach out of his head. Even worse are the bullies that wait in the locker room and on the pool deck. Luckily, Obie has family behind him. And maybe some new friends too, including Charlie, his first crush. Obie is ready to prove he can be one of the fastest boys in the water–to his coach, his critics, and his biggest competition: himself.

Review

Thoughts and Themes: I am always happy to see Trans books that are written by Trans people and especially when those books are meant for a younger group. I love that this book is written for middle grade and gives the experience of being Trans in middle school.

First off, I did find this book challenging to read at times as a Trans person as it does include instances of bullying and Transphobia both by Obie’s peers and adults in his life. While these parts are difficult to read, I did think that they are important topics that this book addresses. I think that the book portrays this in realistic ways and shows how difficult it could be for a Trans person to just exist much less thrive.

There was so much that I really enjoyed in this story and I am so glad that it exists for the younger generation. I loved that the author points out that there is no one way to be transgender and how this is only one story about a Transgender youth. I also like how the author constantly tells the reader through the story and in the author’s note to make sure we aren’t using other people’s words against ourselves.

Characters: In this story you are introduced to several characters through their interactions with Obie. You get to meet some people who are supportive in Obie’s life as well as others who are not as supportive.

I really liked the relationship that we get to see between Obie and each member of his family. I liked how each member of his family supports him and each of them are able to help him in different aspects of his life. I loved seeing how Obie would rely on his brother for relationship advice and loved how Jae-sung supports him through his first relationship.

I also loved the relationship between Obie and Charlie, and how Charlie was just so willing to learn. While I hated that Obie was outed to Charlie, I do like Charlie’s response in that moment and how she is able to walk Obie through that moment while allowing him to also have mixed feelings about it.

Writing Style: This story is written in first person and is told through Obie’s perspective. I really liked that we get to see everything through his point of view and follow along as he experiences different things.

Author Information

Schuyler is the first trans athlete to compete in any sport on an NCAA D1 men’s team, and the only to have competed for all four years. He is an internationally-celebrated inspirational speaker and a respected advocate for inclusion, body acceptance, and mental health awareness.

Schuyler graduated from Harvard College in May 2019 with a degree in Cognitive Neuroscience and Evolutionary Psychology. His studies focused on social emotional learning, emotional intelligence, and education. He is a tireless advocate for inclusion through speaking engagements and social media. Schuyler also holds on-going advisory roles with Monte Nido & Affiliates (the leading eating disorder treatment provider), USA Swimming, the Harvard Medical School Primary Care Review – among others – and is a research assistant at Harvard University.

Spooky Reads for October 2021

The Taking of Jake Livingston by Ryan Douglass 

Get Out meets Danielle Vega in this YA horror where survival is not a guarantee.

Jake Livingston is one of the only Black kids at St. Clair Prep, one of the others being his infinitely more popular older brother. It’s hard enough fitting in but to make matters worse and definitely more complicated, Jake can see the dead. In fact he sees the dead around him all the time. Most are harmless. Stuck in their death loops as they relive their deaths over and over again, they don’t interact often with people. But then Jake meets Sawyer. A troubled teen who shot and killed six kids at a local high school last year before taking his own life. Now a powerful, vengeful ghost, he has plans for his afterlife–plans that include Jake. Suddenly, everything Jake knows about ghosts and the rules to life itself go out the window as Sawyer begins haunting him and bodies turn up in his neighborhood. High school soon becomes a survival game–one Jake is not sure he’s going to win.

Dead Boy by 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. 

The Mary Shelley Club by Goldy Moldavsky 

New York Times –bestselling author Goldy Moldavsky delivers a deliciously twisty YA thriller that’s Scream meets Karen McManus about a mysterious club with an obsession for horror.

New girl Rachel Chavez is eager to make a fresh start at Manchester Prep. But as one of the few scholarship kids, Rachel struggles to fit in, and when she gets caught up in a prank gone awry, she ends up with more enemies than friends.

To her surprise, however, the prank attracts the attention of the Mary Shelley Club, a secret club of students with one objective: come up with the scariest prank to orchestrate real fear. But as the pranks escalate, the competition turns cutthroat and takes on a life of its own.

When the tables are turned and someone targets the club itself, Rachel must track down the real-life monster in their midst . . . even if it means finally confronting the dark secrets from her past.

House of Hollow by Krystal Sutherland 

Seventeen-year-old Iris Hollow has always been strange. Something happened to her and her two older sisters when they were children, something they can’t quite remember but that left each of them with an identical half-moon scar at the base of their throats.

Iris has spent most of her teenage years trying to avoid the weirdness that sticks to her like tar. But when her eldest sister, Grey, goes missing under suspicious circumstances, Iris learns just how weird her life can get: horned men start shadowing her, a corpse falls out of her sister’s ceiling, and ugly, impossible memories start to twist their way to the forefront of her mind.

As Iris retraces Grey’s last known footsteps and follows the increasingly bizarre trail of breadcrumbs she left behind, it becomes apparent that the only way to save her sister is to decipher the mystery of what happened to them as children.

The closer Iris gets to the truth, the closer she comes to understanding that the answer is dark and dangerous – and that Grey has been keeping a terrible secret from her for years.

Cemetery Boys by Aiden Thomas 

Yadriel has summoned a ghost, and now he can’t get rid of him.

When his traditional Latinx family has problems accepting his gender, Yadriel becomes determined to prove himself a real brujo. With the help of his cousin and best friend Maritza, he performs the ritual himself, and then sets out to find the ghost of his murdered cousin and set it free.

However, the ghost he summons is actually Julian Diaz, the school’s resident bad boy, and Julian is not about to go quietly into death. He’s determined to find out what happened and tie up some loose ends before he leaves. Left with no choice, Yadriel agrees to help Julian, so that they can both get what they want. But the longer Yadriel spends with Julian, the less he wants to let him leave.

Squirrel Do Bad by Stephan Pastis Blog Tour Post

I am thrilled to be hosting a spot on the SQUIRREL DO BAD by Stephan Pastis Blog Tour hosted by Rockstar Book Tours. Check out my post and make sure to enter the giveaway!

Book Description

Title: SQUIRREL DO BAD (Trubble Town #1)

Author: Stephan Pastis

Pub. Date: August 31, 2021

Publisher: Aladdin

Formats: Hardcover, Paperback, eBook

Pages: 288

Find it: Goodreads, Amazon, Kindle, B&N, iBooks, Kobo, TBD, Bookshop.org

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.

Review

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.

Author Information

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.

Website | Twitter | Facebook | Instagram | Goodreads | Amazon

Giveaway Details

3 winners will receive a finished copy of SQUIRREL DO BAD, US ONLY.

Enter Here

Tour Schedule

Week One:

8/2/2021Don’t Judge, ReadReview
8/2/2021BookHounds YAExcerpt
8/3/2021@curlygrannylovestoreadReview
8/3/2021Little Red ReadzReview
8/4/2021Rajiv’s ReviewsReview
8/4/2021Unconventional Quirky BibliophileReview
8/5/2021PickagoodbookReview
8/5/2021onemusedReview
8/6/2021A Gingerly ReviewExcerpt
8/6/2021Jazzy Book ReviewsReview

Week Two:

8/9/2021@fictitious.foxReview
8/9/2021Fyrekatz BlogReview
8/10/2021Adrianna.readsReview
8/10/2021Feed Your Fiction AddictionReview
8/11/2021booksaremagictooReview
8/11/2021Books a Plenty Book ReviewsReview
8/12/2021#BRVL Book Review Virginia Lee BlogExcerpt
8/12/2021The Momma SpotReview
8/13/2021Locks, Hooks and BooksReview
8/13/2021Two Points of InterestReview
8/13/2021Two Chicks on BooksExcerpt

The Deep and Dark Blue by Niki Smith Book Review

Book Description

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.

Review

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.

Author Information

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.

Dead Boy by Laurel Gale Book Review

Author Information

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.

Book Description

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.

Review

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.

Kyle’s Little Sister by BonHyung Jeong Blog Tour Post

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!

Author Information

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!

Instagram | Goodreads

Book Description

Title: KYLE’S LITTLE SISTER

Author: BonHyung Jeong

Pub. Date: June 22, 2021

Publisher: JY

Formats: Hardcover, Paperback, eBook

Pages: 240

Find it: Goodreads, Amazon, B&N, iBooks, Kobo, TBD, Bookshop.org

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?!

Giveaway Information

3 winners will receive a finished copy of KYLE’S LITTLE SISTER, US Only.

You can enter HERE!

Review

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.

The Last Bear by Hannah Gold Book Review

Author Information

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.

Book Description

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.

Review

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.

Summer of L.U.C.K. by Laura Segal Stegman

Thank you to the author for a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

Author Information

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.

Book Description

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.

You can Find this book at:

Amazon ~ Barnes and Noble ~ BookShop ~ IndieBound

Review

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.

Seacity Rising: A Tale of Unwatery Adventures by Elika Ansari Book Review

Author Information

Meet the Author: Seacity Rising by Elika Ansari | Meet The Authors

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.

Book Description

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?

Review

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.

Rick by Alex Gino Book Review

Summary: 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.

Thoughts and Themes: I finished this book all in one day as I could not pull myself away from it. I love how lighthearted this book is and I think it is a great read for children ages 9-13. While the book is intended for that age I also think that adults would enjoy this book and that they could learn from this book.

This book took me back to my middle school years and it was so easy to remember moments during those years. This is a book that I would have loved during those years as I spent every day in a teacher’s classroom or the library. I remember wanting to read LGBTQ+ books in middle school and having one shelf to pick from so I loved how the students wanted to add those books to their library.

I like that this book touches on friendship and what that entails. I thought it was great that Rick built this relationship with his grandpa in which he explains to him what kind of people he should surround himself with. I love that he never pressures Rick to throw away his best friend but everyone waits for Rick to make his own decision regarding Jeff.

Characters: Throughout the book you get introduced to several characters which I mostly enjoy. This book has asexual and questioning representation through the main character, it has a side character who is transgender, and many queer side characters.

There is only one character that I had a hard time with even if I understood why he had to be that way. I could not stand Jeff and how much of a jerk he was throughout this whole book.

Another character that is introduced in this book is Rick’s grandpa, Grandpa Ray, who I really enjoyed. I loved the interactions between Rick and his grandpa and how Rick developed as a character through those interactions.

Another character who I really enjoyed was the teacher who was the advisor to the Rainbow Spectrum. I thought it was so important that he went back and apologized for his error and did the research about pronouns. I thought it was a great way to show the proper response to making an error and how to move forward after that.

Writing Style: This book is told in third person and through the perspective of Rick and what is happening in his world. I like that each chapter is short and it transitions to the next very easily. I also like that there is one central plot to the story and other things occur throughout the book that add to that plot.

You can get this book at Eso Won Books or look for it at your local library.