Welcome to the Dog Days, Bookwyrms! We’re in the home stretch of summer (school shmool; summer isn’t officially over for another month 🙃 ) and I have quite a few rebellious reads left to review!
So, obviously, the Ko-fi Grotto didn’t work out; you know that thing where you skim the Terms of Service a bit too quickly and then you hit publish and then you skim the TOS one more time just in case and then you notice an issue?
Apparently, Ko-fi has a strictly PG policy about the content they can be associated with and, well, remember my Pumpkin Spicy Cinderella review from last Halloween?
Anyhoo, let’s take an unscheduled field trip to check out some Little Free Library books! Just like last time, I found these micro-libraries all around Fort Wayne.
The Postcards Award for most creative Little Free Library goes to this literal Treebook house, made from an extra-tall tree stump in Lakeside Park. Now, that’s what I call upcycling! Extra points for the realistic rooftop and the mirrored window + planter on the side!
I’m doing these a little differently today. Introducing: micro-reviews!
Katie Couric. The Brand New Kid. Illus. Marjorie Priceman. New York: Doubleday, 2000.
Rating: 4 out of 5 French poodles eating strudel while you play chess with your new friend in his treehouse.
Song rec: “Cool Kids,” by Echosmith.
Recommended if you like: Stories about rebelling with kindness. About kids who step up when teachers don’t notice (or don’t pay attention to) bullying. Kids who stand up even to their friends when necessary.
I’m guessing Ellie McSnelly was the first to make compassionate contact because she knows first hand how…McSmelly…it feels to be teased? (#sorrynotsorry #kindofsorry)
Juwanda G. Ford. Kenya’s Family Reunion. Illus. Cristina Ong. New York: Scholastic, 1996.
Rating: 5 out of 5 helpings of tall pudding and glasses of growing juice.
Song rec: “We Are Family,” by Sister Sledge
Recommended if you like: Very wholesome, feel-good family stories. Nostalgia-inspiring stories about country life. Clever, creative kids. Mouth-watering food illustrations. Books based on 90s dolls.
James Sage. The Little Band. Illus. Keiko Narahashi. New York: Scholastic, 1991.
Rating: 5 out of 5 sea captains delighted by something they hadn’t seen before.
Song rec: “Past Time With Good Company,” by Blackmore’s Night
Recommended if you like: Stories about those moments that change your whole world. Stories about music causing a quiet revolution. Stories that embody that Golden Afternoon feeling (we really can learn a lot of things from the flowers!).
Jamie Lee Curtis. Today I Feel Silly & Other Moods That Make My Day. Illus Laura Cornell. New York: Joanna Cotler Books, 1998.
Rating: 5 out of 5 ice creams your mom gives you when you’re feeling vaguely blue for no reason.
Song rec: “Scream & Shout,” by will.i.am and Brittney Spears (PG version)
Recommended if you like: Stories that tell you your feelings are valid. Stories that treat all feelings as worthy of wild, goofy, pizzazz-filled illustrations. Stories about kids with big, complicated feelings (sometimes your friend says he’s your boyfriend but he also likes another girl, and sometimes you have a crush on your middle-aged teacher who wears leopard-print glasses).
Stories that get a liiittle TMI, but hey, that’s life, too (sometimes you are just cranky because you have diarrhea).
R. L. Stine. Goosebumps #9: Welcome to Camp Nightmare. New York: Scholastic, 1993.
Rated: 3.95 out of 5 snake bites your cabin leader insists are no big deal.
Song rec: “Disturbia,” by Rihanna
Recommended if you like: Stories that validate your most exaggerated fears about sleep-away camp. Stories that make Kid Nation look a fraction of a sliver less lawsuit-worthy. Stories with bizarre last-minute twist endings that feel tacked on and make no sense until you kind of think about it and then you kind of keep thinking about it and maybe it is a little clever if not for the jarringly cheerful 80s sitcom tone and why am I still thinking about this?
Sandra Boynton. Horns to Toes and In Between. New York: Little Simon, 1995.
Rating: 5 out of 5
hairy handy hands with fingers ten that can tickle, tickle, tickle or be counted again.
Song rec: “Monster Moves,” by Koo Koo Kangaroo (do check out the video 😆 )
Recommended if you like: fun-to-read-aloud stories with friendly monsters who teach readers about basic body parts.
Nikki Grimes. Make Way for Dyamonde Daniel. Illus. R. Gregory Christie. New York: Scholastic, 2009.
Rating: 5 out of 5 treasure hunts you share with your new not-so-rude-anymore best friend.
Song rec: “You Get What You Give,” by New Radicals
Recommended if you like: Stories about plucky kids who not only stand up to bullies, but also find out why they act so mean in the first place. Stories about busy, tight-knit neighborhoods where just about everyone knows your name after just a few weeks. Stories about kids who love to read so much they bring a book to recess.
John Christopher. When the Tripods Came. New York: Simon Pulse, 2003 (original text 1988).
Rating for the first half of the book: 5 out of 5 new Tripod-worshipping communes that’ve formed since yesterday.
- Or: 5 out of 5 camping trips gone (yet again) horribly wrong.
Song rec: “Let There Be More Light,” by Pink Floyd. If you take the lyrics more literally than allegorically (the Christian imagery is strong with this one), you could see this as the story of an alien force that easily seduces humanity into lowering their defenses by presenting himself as the second coming, with a plan to re-shape the world in his own image.
Recommended if you like: Stories that show the beginning of a dystopia. Stories about how easy it is to brainwash millions of people into rooting for their own destruction. Prequels that steadily build up a sense of dread — you know it isn’t going to end well, but you keep reading, just in case…
Honestly, the only reason I DNF’d this one is because it gave me literal nightmares.
What about you, Bookwyrms? What are some of your favorite too-cool-for-back-to-school reads? What are your favorite anti-bullying stories and what makes them so effective? Any books you had to DNF because they were just too scary?