Real Friends by Shannon Hale and LeUyen Pham

I’m not much on realistic fiction typically.  Living through upper elementary and middle school was hard enough the first time, right?!  For some odd, quirky reason though, the realistic graphic genre has totally grabbed me.  I get knots in my stomach every time a character hits an awkward spot and am cheering them on when they have a victory.  The graphic format is just more powerful for me.

Real Life by Shannon Hale and LeUyen Pham is one of the best in this genre, by far.  This should come as no surprise.  This is the duo who has already blown us away with The Princess in Black series.

This new title though is one that unlike their fantasy series for early readers, lands us in the very real, very challenging topics of friendship, growing up, and finding your “tribe”.  The friends who get you and have your back no matter what.  Anyone who spends time with children knows friendship brings some of the highest highs and lowest lows.  This book delves deeper into that from the child’s perspective.  The anxiety, the fear of rejection and confusion surrounding why, the joy and peace of acceptance.

The story is actually a memoir written about Hale’s own childhood, revisiting the ups and downs of friendship, family, and change.  As I read it, it brought back all the memories of the tumultuous nature of childhood friendships from my own childhood and the immense joy felt when you have acceptance and compassion.

The relationship between Wendy and Shannon is one I feel a lot of readers will connect too.  Between family dynamics and mental health issues, these two characters are pushed apart but in the end, come to see that they actually have an ally in each other and are family, regardless of past hurts.

This graphic novel is beautifully done and fans of Roller Girl by Victoria Jamieson, Sunny Side Up by Jennifer L. Holm and Matthew Holm, and Smile by Raina Telgemeier are going to eat this one up!

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If You Loved… Warriors (Read-Alike series)

Best of 2016 #2

We are almost to our top books of the year, but first… which ones made runner up? #2 slot here we come! To see more of the books we loved in 2016, click here!

Sarah

The Thank You Book by Mo Willems

Gerald and Piggie’s final book is filled with gratitude for everyone, but will someone be left out of the thank-o-rama?

Marta

Ghosts by Raina Telgemeier

Adjusting to a new town is hard enough for Cat.  Not only is she trying to make new friends, figuring out how to get along with her neighbor, and creating a social life for herself without her little sister butting in, but she also is going to have to figure out how to live in a town filled with ghosts! The relationship between the sisters in this book is so realistic and the art, as always, is amazing!

Teresa

The Airport Book by Lisa Brown

As a family takes to the friendly skies, no one know what happened to Monkey except the little girl who packed him (with his tail hanging out of the suitcase)!  Follow along in this Knuffle Bunny-esque narrative to see if Monkey is reunited with his girl.  More than just an introduction to the airport, the story is a look at the wide world itself.

Janna

Meltdown! by Jill Murphy

Parents everywhere can relate to this tale of the evolution of a child’s world-class tantrum.  The illustration style is a bit old-school, but the interactions of Mom and daughter are spot-on, and my daughter clearly identified with the tantrum-ing Roxy.