Chris's Book Reviews

Finally Heard By Kelly Yang Cover Image
Reviewed by: Chris
Posted: December 30, 2023

I loved Finally Heard! But I still want Lina Gao to go viral. Is that so wrong? A great read for kids and a great resource for parents, teachers and librarians everywhere struggling with social media issues.

Timid: A Graphic Novel By Jonathan Todd, Jonathan Todd (Illustrator) Cover Image
Reviewed by: Chris
Posted: December 3, 2023

Cecil for the win! A timid, lonely but loveable kid at a new school trying to figure out who he can trust and who will accept him for who he is, Cecil ends up being the hero of his own story. The way he sifts through all the advice of friends and family and then finds his own way to stand up for himself is heartwarming and inspiring. A sure hit for middle-grade graphic novel readers!

Next Stop: (A Graphic Novel) By Debbie Fong Cover Image
Reviewed by: Chris
Posted: December 3, 2023

One of the sweetest, most heartbreaking, and hopeful graphic novels you will ever read! Debbie Fong weaves magic from tiny corn mazes, ancient sporks, giant melons, and a fortune-telling peach, and the climactic scene of Pia making her wish at an underground lake will literally bring you to tears. Grab a copy but don't lend it to anyone, cause you will never get it back.

Alterations By Ray Xu Cover Image
Reviewed by: Chris
Posted: December 3, 2023

Funny, moving, and utterly true! (Except maybe the roller coaster scene--which, if it's based on actual author experience, ranks as one of the most terrifying childhood memories you could ever have.) Ray Xu combines story-telling and artwork brilliantly, creating in Kevin Lee a character as memorable as Jordan Banks (NEW KID), Jin Wang (AMERICAN BORN CHINESE), or Greg Heffley (DIARY OF A WIMPY KID).

The Secret of the Dragon Gems By Rajani LaRocca, Chris Baron Cover Image
Reviewed by: Chris
Posted: December 3, 2023

A quirky, fun and ultimately moving fantasy involving 2 great middle school characters bonding over everything from broken friendships to dragons, comets, mysteries, and the strangest alien lifeforms since the tribbles in Star Trek.

Champion of Fate (Heromaker #1) By Kendare Blake Cover Image
Reviewed by: Chris
Posted: December 3, 2023

This is not your grandmother's Valkyrie story! A pulsing, passionate novel with great characters, a driving plot, and some fascinating twists on the old Norse legends. Yes, Champion of Fate is one of those books that will keep you up very late at night reading and leave you begging for more by the end.

Adia Kelbara and the Circle of Shamans By Isi Hendrix Cover Image
Reviewed by: Chris
Posted: December 3, 2023

ADIA KELBARA AND THE CIRCLE OF SHAMANS kept me up all night and smiling all the next day! The perfect combination of magic, mystery, mythology and humor, with a main character who's brave and smart but also precariously balanced between good and evil. The story ends in a satisfying way but with the promise of more adventures to come. Which is great, because I'd follow Adia into as many stories as Isi Hendrix can write for her.

Staff Pick Badge
Warrior Girl Unearthed By Angeline Boulley Cover Image
Reviewed by: Chris
Posted: December 3, 2023

Loved this one even more than Firekeeper’s Daughter (which I also loved)! Perry is such a great main character--smart, daring, passionate, sometimes reckless. And the details about the theft and collecting of indigenous artifacts, bones, etc., and the work of getting them returned to their tribes is not only educational (for us non-native people) but incredibly moving. We feel Perry's anger and frustration with an intensity way beyond the usual reader/main-character sympathy--an amazing feat given how foreign these issues are to most non-indigenous readers. Angeline Boulley is truly one of the best young adult novelists writing today.

Wildfire (A Graphic Novel) By Breena Bard Cover Image
Reviewed by: Chris
Posted: December 3, 2023

A deeply affecting story about a girl struggling with all she and her family lost in a California wildfire. Great friend and family dynamics with strong tie-ins to discussions about climate change. A must-have for any school, library or bookstore.

Monkey King and the World of Myths: The Monster and the Maze By Maple Lam Cover Image
Reviewed by: Chris
Posted: December 3, 2023

Love this mash-up of the Monkey King story with other myths! Readers will love the clean, comical illustrations and humorous dialog, and Monkey King's mix of bravado and compassion will make him a hit with both kids and adults. (Plus, it has the cutest Cerberus you've ever seen.)

The Improbable Tales of Baskerville Hall Book 1 By Ali Standish Cover Image
Reviewed by: Chris
Posted: December 3, 2023

A smart, fast, and incredibly entertaining mash-up of the Sherlock Holmes, Dr. Watson, and Arthur Conan Doyle legends. Perfect for fans of City Spies, the Mysterious Benedict Society, and Lockwood & Co.

The Luminous Life of Lucy Landry By Anna Rose Johnson Cover Image
Reviewed by: Chris
Posted: December 3, 2023

A shining tale of fear and courage! Lucy Landry lives as much in her imagination as in the real world. But how do you navigate the real world, real families, real love, when you've spent the better part of your life isolated from all of those things? Anna Rose Johnson packs a lot into this slim story, and the results are truly luminous.

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