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!

If You Loved… Warriors (Read-Alike series)

Spring & Rain Reads

You can tell Spring is in full force!  The rain is steadily coming down almost daily.  Of course, this means we have had tons of parents and teachers in asking us what books we recommend for Spring and rainy weather as they try to keep their little ones happy, taking advantage of the indoor hours together.  Here are some of our favorites! What books would you add to our list?

Stormy Night by Salina Yoon

Rain! by Linda Ashman

Once Upon a Rainy Day by Edouard Manceau

Worm Weather by Jean Taft

Splish! Splash! by Josepha Sherman

Let It Rain by Maryann Cocca-Leffler

Tap Tap Boom Boom by Elizabeth Bluemle

Rainy Day! by Patricia Lakin

Puddle by Hyewon Yum

And Then It’s Spring by Julie Fogliano

Spring is Here! by Heidi Pross Gray

The Tiny Seed by Eric Carle

Spring is Here by Will Hillenbrand

Who’s Awake in Springtime? by Phillis Gershator and Mim Green

When Spring Comes by Kevin Henkes

Everything Spring by Jill Esbaum

Mud by Mary Lyn Ray

 

Best of 2016 #1

Hopefully you have enjoyed reading our favorite reads of 2016. And now *insert drum roll here* our what we thought were the BEST 2016 had to offer…

 

Sarah

Worm Loves Worm by J.J. Austrian

This book celebrates the fact that love is love is love!

Marta

Full of Beans by Jennifer L. Holm

This is one of the best, most entertaining, kid-accessible historical fiction books I have read in a long time.  The chapters read quickly and are packed with action or information to put the story together.  This book is so well written that it will capture even your most reluctant reader.  Beans Curry and his marble-playing gang The Keepsies had me rooting for them as they work with the New Dealers to rebuild Key West after the Depression while dealing with fires, illness, mobsters, and friendships.

Teresa

There’s a Bear On My Chair by Ross Collins

Mouse complains, with escalating rage, that there’s a (polar) bear on his chair.  When his words fail, mouse leaves and gets his revenge.  Sure to be a classic read-aloud!

Janna

The Girl Who Drank the Moon by Kelly Barnhill

Like all great fairy tales, this book shows the light in a work filled with darkness and woe.  Several stories in one, this magical tale weaves separate narratives together to a riveting conclusion that will leave even the most seasoned reader enthralled.

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.

Best of 2016 #3

Down to our final 3!  This year has been full of amazing books, so we are down to the ones we absolutely LOVED.  If you missed yesterday’s #4 post, click here.

Sarah

Good Night, Baddies by Deborah Underwood

An unusual look at fairytale baddies as they get ready for bed.

Marta 

Home At Last by Vera B. Williams and Chris Raschka

This story represents an end and beginning.  This story was written as Vera B. Williams was succumbing to cancer and Raschka worked closely with her to help bring her final vision into the world when she was too ill to go on and after she passed.  Knowing this background made the story that much more powerful, and it was already powerful on its own. Through beautiful illustrations and warm text, we follow the story of Lester, a lucky little boy who has been adopted by Daddy Rich and Daddy Albert.  Though Lester’s new life is a very good life, he just can’t manage to stay in his own bed.  Even his daddies are having trouble and no one is getting sleep!  What will help Lester adjust to his new life and his new bed?

Teresa

Old Dog Baby Baby by Julie Fogliano

“old dog lazy lazy/ lying on the kitchen floor/here comes baby baby/crawling through the kitchen door…” With charming watercolor illustrations by Chris Raschka, author Fogliano spins a lovely tale of a faithful dog and its family, told in verse.

Janna

Little Night Cat by Sonja Danowski

The images and old-world style of this book were what first caught my eye, but as I read the story, I fell in  love with it too.  Having just adopted a cat ourselves, this tale really resonated with my little family, and my children loved the sweet pictures of Tony and his kitten Valentine.

Best of 2016 #4

I love, love, love talking books with my coworkers here.  One book that most of us really enjoyed this year is making not one, but two appearances on our top 10 this year! Check out what is happening in the #4 slot as King Baby makes another appearance!  Be sure and check out our other Best of 2016 posts!

Sarah

Ida, Always by Caron Levis

Story honoring friendship and loss.

Marta

Wolf Hollow by Lauren Wolk

Set against a World War II backdrop, Annabelle and her family follow a strong set of morals where community is everything.  Helping your neighbor and  standing up for what is right are part of daily life.  When Betty moves to town, however, all of these things are put to the test.  Betty bullies everyone, even Toby, a man who roams the hills avoiding much interaction with people.  When Betty’s bullying goes too far and endangers Toby as well as Betty herself, Annabelle must make tough choices in this coming-of-age story.  If you like thrillers and historical fiction, this read is phenomenal middle-grade reading!

Teresa

King Baby by Kate Beaton

You will laugh out loud at this funny and realistic portrayal of life with a new baby! He rules the roost… until Queen baby comes along!

Janna

The Flower by John Light

I love reading any books about librarians, so when i stumbled upon The Flower in a library blog, I was excited to read it! Not a typical children’s book, The Flower paints a story of a grim world of dystopian gray.  A book changes all of that and brings color, life, and hope.