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!

Link Grab Bag

Link Grab Bag (1)

  • A study released Wednesday in the Journal of the American Medical Association finds that children benefit from attending full-day preschool, rather than part-time preschool.  The study found improvements in four of six measures of school readiness: social development, language, math, and physical health.
  • Readers of this blog know how much we love Brown Girl Dreaming around these parts, so you won’t be surprised that we want to share another post about the book and its wonderful author, Jacqueline Woodson.  This is a short interview following her National Book Award win.
  • Have you seen Mockingjay Part 1 yet?  Here is a rundown of the movie for diehard fans.  What do you think?  How did it stack up against the other movies and the book?
  • Want to know what the Association for Library Services to Children thinks are the best graphic novels for K-8th graders? These great lists will help guide you as you search for the best for you kids.
  • We’re loving this recipe for peppermint playdough for the holidays!

Diverse Middle Grade Fiction

We love this flowchart of diverse books for middle grade and young adult readers created by Tracy Lopez for We Need Diverse books!  We had to share! (LINK)

weneeddiversebooks

(Select for larger view)

(Select any title to locate at the library!)

Kick
by Walter Dean Myers and Ross Workman
The Crossover by Kwame Alexander
The Trouble with Half a Moon by Danette Vigilante
Rain is not my Indian Name by Cynthia Leitich Smith
Confetti Girl by Diana Lopez
Skeleton Man by Joseph Bruchac
The Monster in the Mudball by S. P. Gate
How I Became a Ghost by Tim Tingle
Ash Mistry and the Savage Fortress by Sarwat Chadda
My Basmati Bat Mitzvah by Paula J. Freedman
Better Nate Than Ever by Tim Federle
The Great Greene Heist by Varian Johnson
Starry River of the Sky by Grace Lin
One Crazy Summer by Rita Williams Garcia
A Long Walk to Water by Linda Sue Park
Ninth Ward by Jewell Parker Rhodes
Breadcrumbs by Anne Ursu
The Menagerie by Tui and Kari Sutherland
Akata Witch by Nnedi Okorafor
El Deafo by Cece Bell
Little White Duck by Andres Vera Martinez
Drama by Raina Telgemeier
The Popularity Papers by Amy Ignatow
Hereville: How Mirka Got Her Sword by Barry Deutsch
Geeks, Girls and Secret Identities by Mike Jung
Galaxy Games by Greg Fishbone
Chronal Engine by Greg Leitich Smith
The Boy at the End of the World by Greg van Eekhout
Ambassador by William Alexander
The Great Wall of Lucy Wu by Wendy Shang
Eighth-Grade Superzero by Olugbemisola Rhuday-Perkovich
Hold Fast by Blue Balliett
The Problem with Being Slightly Heroic by Uma Krishnaswami