Reviews

The Last Last-Day-of-Summer

The small town of Fry in Logan County is a weird place. Strange, unexplainable, dangerous stuff happens all the time, threatening the townsfolk. Thankfully, the town is also home to cousins Otto and Sheed - the Legendary Alston Boys. They've solved mysteries and saved the day countless times, but when they encounter an unusual man with a magical camera on the last day of summer, they embark on what may be their toughest challenge yet... The setting is reminiscent of Gravity Falls or Stranger Things (but more kid-friendly of course) - Logan County is full of supernatural surprises. Otto and Sheed are extremely likable characters, and the story is filled with humor, action, imagination, and delivers a heartwarming and inspiring message on top. Recommended for ages 9-12, but could be enjoyed by younger kids as well.

Reviewed by Paul D.

American As Paneer Pie

Eleven year old Lekha is the only Indian American girl in her school and definitely feels like an outcast in the mostly-white Detroit neighborhood she calls home. Her classmates make ignorant remarks about her family’s culture, language, and tease her about her birthmark (that just so happens to be on her forehead, just like a Bindi).

Lekha has learned to suppress everything that makes her different from everyone else - she never brings her favorite Indian foods to lunch, covers her birthmark with her hair, and stays silent when she, or anyone else, is teased. When a new Desi kid, Avantika, moves in across the street everything begins to change. Avantika speaks up about her culture and celebrates it when all Lekha has done is hide it. Lekha is impressed and embarrassed by Avantika’s ability to lean into her culture and heritage. But when a local political election spawns a hate crime against Lekha’s family, she knows she can’t stay silent and complacent any longer.

Measuring Up

Cici loves cooking with her A-ma (grandmother) in Taiwan; it makes her feel like she belongs. But when Cici’s family moves to America and away from A-ma, Cici suddenly feels out of place. She misses Taiwan, but especially misses her A-ma. Cici wants A-ma to visit, but A-ma cannot afford the plane ticket to America. When Cici sees a cooking contest for kids offered at a local store for a cash prize, she enters right away. But will the judges be interested in her Taiwanese cooking?

Measuring Up is a delightful graphic novel about family, friendship, and identity. The story is fast paced and compelling. There are so many beautiful and delicious looking foods prepared throughout the book – expect your tummy to grumble! This book is recommended for ages 9-12.

Scritch Scratch

This spooky novel follows Claire, an interested-in-science-doesn’t-believe-in-the-paranormal-thank-you-very-much middle schooler who has a pretty typical life. She doesn’t always get along with her brother and her friend group is having some growing pains since her best friend is now hanging out with a new girl. Her parents would be normal if it wasn’t for her dad’s job which is a tour guide for a Chicago Ghost bus touring company. Claire can usually ignore that, but one night she gets pulled into helping her dad on the tour and a ghost follows her home, haunting her. Claire has to figure out what the ghost wants, and quickly, before it gets angrier.

111 Trees: How One Village Celebrates the Birth of Every Girl

Growing up as a young boy in the Indian state of Rajasthan, Sundar Paliwal experienced several difficult things such as hunger, poverty and the loss of his mother at a young age. He continues to look at his community as he grows up, gets married and eventually has his own two daughters and one son. He teaches his children about the beauty and importance of all living things. But Sundar’s community and land is being destroyed by mining companies, where he works.

Sundar knows he must make change in his community and for the land around them. He quits his mining job and becomes an activist and local leader. However, when tragedy strikes yet again in Sundar’s life, he imagines an inspiring plan that will not only replenish the environment but also highlight the need for equality amongst girls and boys in his village. In honor of every girl born in the village, 111 trees will be planted!

Snapdragon

Snapdragon, who goes by Snap, is kind of a loner who doesn't believe in witches and magic like other kids in town. But even she's slightly nervous when she visits the Town Witch to rescue her dog. It turns out that the grumpy Town Witch, whose name is actually Jacks, isn't so bad at all and has actually fixed up Snap's dog. Snap is instantly taken with Jacks' mysterious and strange ways and decides to enter into a deal with her. She'll help Jacks in her "work" if Jacks will help Snap care for some baby possums she found. As they spend time together, Snap starts rethinking the possibility of witches and learns that she and Jacks have more in common than she ever could have imagined.

Doodleville

There’s something special about the doodles Drew and her art club pals create - they come to life! The art club crew usually draft friendly characters, though Drew’s doodles are known to get into trouble, like the time they stole a hat out of a painting in the museum. But that was nothing compared to real trouble her newest doodle, Levi, created in Doodleville! With her monster on the loose destroying all of her friends’ creations, Drew feels hopeless. How will Drew ever be able to stop Levi from destroying everything in sight and hold onto her friendships!

With such an imaginative story and a wonderfully racially diverse group whose members display a variety of gender presentations, there's a lot to love about this book. It is the perfect read for fans of Chad Sell’s The Cardboard Kingdom, or Kirsten Gudsnuk’s Making Friends. Recommended ages 8+

Reviewed by Kim B., Librarian

Birdie and Me

Jack and her gender fluid brother, Birdie, are siblings who have to move in with their stoic and no-nonsense uncle after their eccentric uncle proves that he is not a good caretaker after their mother's sudden death. The constant upheaval, new scenery, school, and bullying in their new life throw them through a loop. Through grieving, confronting bullies, and confronting comfort zones -- Birdie, Jack, and both their uncles learn to love and accept each other for who they are. Together, the family creates a new sense of home together. 

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