Review: The Thing About Jellyfish by Ali Benjamin

Suzy and Franny are growing apart as Franny starts hanging out with the popular crowd and caring more about cute boys. Suzy, the more bookish of the two, decides to retaliate against Franny’s cruel actions. Unfortunately, Suzy is never able to explain her disgusting actions and finds herself not only grief stricken but also feeling sickeningly guilty because Franny drowns while on vacation. Suzy refuses to talk to anyone: her parents, brother, therapist, and lab partner. Written with science report-like overtones, Suzy becomes obsessed with finding out the cause of Franny’s death and ultimately decides that a deadly Australian jellyfish has stung and killed her friend. Determined to prove this theory to herself as well as everyone else, Suzy seeks out the advice of experts, one in particular named Jamie. The Thing About Jellyfish is a National Book Award finalist. With themes of grief, growing up, and mental illness, fourth…

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Review: A Boy Named Queen by Sara Cassidy

As Evelyn enters 5th grade, cue the arrival of a boy in a pink shirt with eccentric, bohemian, tattooed parents. Queen is my hero as he wears what he wants, builds a force field against bullies, starts his own school clubs, and makes personalized, collage birthday invitations. Evelyn instantly accepts Queen into her world and is rewarded with self-awareness and courage. Reading much like a younger version of Stargirl, A Boy Named Queen addresses what it is like to grow-up and more importantly, grow into one’s skin. This heartwarming realistic fiction novel is suitable for third to sixth graders and left my heart feeling fuzzy. However, as I scrolled through the last page on my iPad, I questioned if half of this eBook failed to download. To say that the story ends abruptly is an understatement, and while this quick read felt more like a short story, I would recommend A Boy Named Queen to any child who…

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Review: Ghosts by Raina Telgemeier

Because Cat’s sister, Maya, suffers from cystic fibrosis, the family decides that it best to move near the cool, Californian ocean air. In Bahía de la Luna, Cat begins to learn about her Mexican heritage in a city that is obsessed with ghosts. Although Cat is a glass half empty kind of girl, Maya is extremely optimistic and energetic. Maya convinces Cat to go on a ghost tour with a cute boy in town, Carlos, to prove that ghosts do exist. While on top of a hill at the mission, Maya suddenly has a breathing attack and is placed on a machine that limits even more of her daily activities such as trick-or-treating. With the Day of the Dead quickly approaching, both girls attempt to come to terms with dying as well as living with the help of ghosts, new friends, and family. Ghosts is a quick and visually stimulating…

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Review: North of Happy by Adi Alsaid

Late one night, Carlos and his older brother, Felix, decide to taste test their way through the food stands of Mexico City in search of the perfect taco. In a tragic accident, stray bullets kill the free-spirited, nomadic Felix, leaving Carlos with his brother’s ghost and the desire to recover his own happiness. During Carlos’ high school graduation party—faced with a well intentioned but uninspiring predetermined future with the family business—Carlos runs away from his privileged life to a small island off of Washington state. With no plans except to visit Provecho, a bucket list restaurant in his brother’s diary, Carlos must find a place to sleep and a way to earn a living. In a matter of luck or fate, Carlos begins working as a dishwasher at Provecho and is taken under the wing of the master chef with the threatening promise of termination if he does not stop…

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