‘The Babysitter’s Club: Kristy’s Big Day’ by Gale Galligan Book Review

‘The Baby-Sitter’s Club: Kristy’s Big Day’ by Gale Galligan, based on the novel by Ann M. Martin, is an interesting take on the original book, placing the characters in a graphic novel setting. Kristy and her five babysitter friends find themselves in the thick of Kristy’s mom’s wedding and all of the kids who are coming to town for it. When they offer their services to watch the fourteen kids who will be there, they get a bit more than they bargained for, and find that the job isn’t as easy as they thought it might be. However, as can only be expected, the conflicts come to a head and the babysitters begin to find common ground with the kids that helps them all get through the week mostly unscathed.

The week leading up to the wedding has a lot of fun and drama, with arguments, outings, and a variety of mix-ups. When it all comes together, though, everything that happened proves to be worth it, and Kristy finds that the wedding, and especially her mom’s happiness, are really all that matters in the end.

The colorful graphics and wording make the story a fast read, and the nostalgia factor since it is based on an older novel makes the book even more interesting. Those who enjoyed Ann M. Martin’s original series will find themselves pulled back in, wondering just how the girls will solve their issues so the novel can end on a positive note.

You can find ‘The Babysitter’s Club: Kristy’s Big Day’ by Gale Galligan, based on the novel by Ann M. Martin here.

*Review originally posted at YABooksCentral.com*

‘The Very Last Castle’ by Travis Jonker Book Review

‘The Very Last Castle’ by Travis Jonker, pictures by Mark Pett, has a Willy Wonka feel to it. The book centers on the very last castle that stands in the middle of a small town. No one ever comes out of it, and no one ever goes in, yet a man stands guard, bringing a decent amount of curiosity to interested passersby. Yet one little girl named Ibb is the only one who truly begins to question the castle and the mystery that surrounds its walls. Everybody speculates as to what is inside, as people are wont to do when they don’t know about or understanding something well. Everybody would much rather think the worst than learn what truly is going on and how they might be able to take part in learning more.

When Ibb decides to enter the castle’s walls and discover the truth, she finds that perception is an interesting thing. The guard is taking care of the castle, making sure it is treated well, and Ibb, despite being a little girl who probably should not wander off on her own into mostly abandoned castles, finds that the truth she was looking for has led her into an unexpected friendship with the guard. As she joins him in exploring the castle grounds, he reveals his wish for the castle, and Ibb helps him see that it is possible in ways he had never considered.

A sweet story that is made even better through the themes of friendship, curiosity, and truth, ‘The Very Last Castle’ is a lovely tale with colorful illustrations that only enhance the storytelling.

You can find ‘The Very Last Castle’ by Travis Jonker here. The book can be pre-ordered until October 9, 2018, at which time it will be available for immediate sale.

*Review originally posted at YABooksCentral.com*

‘Jack B. Ninja’ by Tim McCanna Book Review

‘Jack B. Ninja’ by Tim McCanna, illustrated by Stephen Savage, is a rhyming story about Jack, a young ninja who hides, scales the highest walls, swims underwater, enters dark caves, discovers hidden treasure, and finds himself not alone. Just when he thinks his mission has come to an end, he is saved by three friendly ninjas who help him find the ninja master, to whom he must bring the treasure.

As it turns out, the other ninjas are closer to Jack than one might think, and they are all working together toward one common goal – celebrating Jack’s birthday.

While the story is cute and brings about a sense of fantasy as young kids sometimes dream of being stealthy ninjas who can get away with anything, this story seemed as though it was missing the reveal of the ninjas as his family from a physical standpoint. It would have been nice to see them take off their masks, yet one can see how the point of the story is to show that ninjas are unpredictable and often disappear without any notice. However, the last illustration shows that they obviously spent time together, as Jack’s birthday cake has been mostly eaten. Lovers of rhyming children’s stories that play on the imagination will want to pick up this book.

You can find ‘Jack B. Ninja’ by Tim McCanna here.

*Review originally posted at YABooksCentral.com*

‘Freak N Gorgeous’ by Sebastian J. Plata Book Review

‘Freak N Gorgeous’ by Sebastian J. Plata provides an in-depth and telling look into the world of two teenagers who unexpectedly have their looks changed. The setting of the book is not unlike a normal world, but one large difference is that there is something called Inexplicable Developments in which people have changes happen to them based on wishes. These changes sometimes come unexpected and in ways that do not feel deserved, which is one of the main ideas of the novel.

Konrad and Camilla are the two characters whose dual viewpoints are showcased from chapter to chapter. While Konrad has gone from average looks to being taller and considerably better looking, Camilla has had the opposite happen. She has gone from average looking to quite bad-looking, in the eyes of not only herself, but the vast majority of the school. Even though her friends stand by her when they first learn of her inexplicable development, she doesn’t have many others who do, aside from her mother.

Konrad, on the other hand, loses his friends due to the dramatic and sudden change that has made him what the most popular and good-looking kids consider gorgeous. Yet, despite his seeming good fortune, he comes to learn that beauty is not just something that one can see on the outside; the way one acts and treats others also plays a part. The main conflict of the story lies in the fact that Camilla learns of Konrad’s change and attributes her own social downfall and poor looks to his wish to be better-looking. Even though nothing proves this to be true apart from Camilla’s insistence that it must be, she holds firm thinking that he is to blame. When he tries to befriend her, she aims to use his friendship tactics against him, believing against all else that he’s only doing it because it’s good for him in some way.

A novel that teaches the importance of looking beyond the surface and learning to deal with the hand that life deals you, ‘Freak N Gorgeous’ shows how getting everything you want isn’t necessarily what it’s cracked up to be, and getting dealt a bad hand won’t necessarily bring the worst results. The play on words in the title is fun, too, as Camilla believes she’s a freak while Konrad is gorgeous, but it also plays on another level, because they both realize that if they find a way to work together, maybe they will come to be “freakin’ gorgeous,” and come to be the best versions of themselves possible.

You can find ‘Freak N Gorgeous’ by Sebastian J. Plata here.

*Review originally posted at YABooksCentrall.com*

‘Abraham Lincoln’s Dueling Words’ by Donna Janell Bowman Book Review

‘Abraham Lincoln’s Dueling Words’ by Donna Janell Bowman, illustrated by S.D. Schindler, brings to light a not-so-well-known piece of history – a scrape that Lincoln got himself into due to his choice of humor. The almost-duel between Lincoln and James Shields could have cost him quite a bit. His life and his career could both have been in danger.

Lincoln’s humility saved him in the end, providing readers with an important moral to the story after they read how and why the duel was set in the first place. Sometimes giving in and seeing the error of one’s ways can help in making that person see the light and find the right path to being the bigger person.

Lincoln is remembered as a great man and president, and much of this is due to the way he handled himself throughout life, being kind and making tough decisions that furthered so much in United States history. His decision in the almost-duel that ended the potential danger that could have ensued was part of what shaped him into the man remembered today. All people can find a way to shape themselves into who they think they should be, just as Lincoln did. It only takes a solid dose of knowing how to swallow one’s pride when the going gets tough, just as our sixteenth president teaches us to do through Bowman’s storytelling.

You can find ‘Abraham Lincoln’s Dueling Words’ by Donna Janell Bowman here.

*Review originally posted at YABooksCentral.com*

‘The Magician’s Hat’ by Malcolm Mitchell Book Review

‘The Magician’s Hat’ by Malcolm Mitchell, illustrated by Joanne Lew-Vriethoff, is destined to be one of your favorite children’s books. It is not only an endearing tale promoting the power of reading, but a beautiful story about finding what you love, staying true to yourself, and not letting anything stand in your way.

The wonderful and colorful illustrations only add to the beauty of the book. They shed light on the power that one book can hold, especially with one particular illustration in which all of the books look the same except for the one that holds the excitement the young magician is searching for while in the library one day. The metaphorical value here will stand out for any lover of symbolism.

Not only does the story immerse readers in the joy of books, but also in the joy of libraries. The first two pages show a library that any book lover would want to visit, full of family fun and hidden areas where children and adults can tuck themselves away to read to their heart’s delight.

An adorable and awe-inducing book that readers will likely want to read again and again, ‘The Magician’s Hat’ is a fantastic story, and hopefully only the first of many by Malcolm Mitchell.

You can find ‘The Magician’s Hat’ by Malcolm Mitchell here.

*Review originally posted at YABooksCentral.com*

‘Pinkalicious and the Pirates’ by Victoria Kann Book Review

‘Pinkalicious and the Pirates’ by Victoria Kann captures the fun and games that all of Kann’s ‘Pinkalicious’ books include. The sense of fantasy within this one is stronger than in some of the others, as it’s not everyday that a couple of kids come across a pirate ship and real pirates aboard. In true ‘Pinkalicious’ fashion, everything turns out all right, as can only be expected of a children’s book of this nature, with cookies, sprinkles, a mermaid, a pink dolphin, and a talking parrot to boot!

Young children and their parents will enjoy this new addition to the ‘Pinkalicious’ series of books. The beauty of imagination may bring readers to travel on their own adventure to find their very own pirates or treasure at the beach!

You can find ‘Pinkalicious and the Pirates’ by Victoria Kann here.

*Review originally posted at YABooksCentral.com*

‘If You’re Groovy and You Know It, Hug a Friend’ by Eric Litwin Book Review

‘If You’re Groovy and You Know It, Hug a Friend’ by Eric Litwin, art by Tom Lichtenheld, will have readers singing along to the familiar tune that the book presents. The pictures capture instances of friendship, kindness, fun, and exploration, leading readers to consider what they might do to be groovy in their own way. There is much to be said for stories that encourage action, as children nowadays are sometimes stuck in front of electronic devices, while this book showcases outside activities – a definite plus.

It’s almost a given that readers will be singing along with the story, bringing a love of this new spin on the song to a new generation, and instilling a love of imagination and fun activities in the hearts and minds of children.

You can find ‘If You’re Groovy and You Know It, Hug a Friend’ by Eric Litwin here.

*Review originally posted at YABooksCentral.com*

‘Airports, Exes, and Other Things I’m Over’ by Shani Petroff Book Review

‘Airports, Exes, and Other Things I’m Over’ by Shani Petroff captures the angst of romantic hardships and misunderstandings. When eighteen-year-old Sari, a senior in high school, plans a trip to Florida for spring break with her boyfriend (even though she plans to stay with her grandma), she thinks everything is coming up roses. Little does she know that everything is about to change when she unexpectedly shows up at a party and finds him kissing his ex-girlfriend.

Just as life becomes upended by this unwanted revelation, Sari decides to go through with her trip to Florida, all while her best friend Trina is insistent that she make an instant love connection down there and get over the cheating Zev. Sari’s conflicted feelings make her mourning process all that much more difficult, especially as Zev shows up on her grandmother’s doorstep, having still taken the trip to Florida that he had also planned on, just not by Sari’s side.

Trying to busy herself with the grandson of another resident of her grandmother’s senior complex, she finds that the new guy, Fitz, is good-looking, sweet, and goes to school in New York City, just like she plans to when she graduates. Living in the city already, she wonders that if something does happen between them, if it could truly work out since they will be so close together. Yet, she continually thinks of Zev and his insistence on making things right. His insistence that he didn’t really do anything wrong and they need to talk. She isn’t having it, and in a way, this is rightly so. However, he is going out of his way to make a point, and won’t let up, meaning maybe there is something to be explained. Yet at the same time, it is important the people understand that when others don’t want to be disturbed, that should be respected, and even though Zev has good intentions, he doesn’t quite come to terms with this and keeps at his goal of talking to Sari and explaining everything.

Through a series of additional mishaps involving airports, road trips, Sari’s guitar, and the desperate desire to get home to play a show at her favorite club, Sari discovers that life isn’t always as it seems, and sometimes you have to take the bad alongside the good. She learns about herself and how to best deal with her situation in the process, with a little bit of help from her best friend and, though she finds it unexpected at first, from her mother.

A fast-paced, everything-that-can-go-wrong-can-yet-things-are-destined-to-work-out kind of book, lovers of young adult contemporary romance will eat this up, flying through Petroff’s writing with ease.

You can find ‘Airports, Exes, and Other Things I’m Over’ by Shani Petroff here.

*Review originally posted at YABooksCentral.com*

‘The Opposite of Innocent’ by Sonya Sones Book Review

‘The Opposite of Innocent’ is yet another fantastic novel-in-verse by the illustrious Sonya Sones. The story will draw readers in and not let go, making them hope for what they want to happen but know may only be a desperate wish. It will haunt readers well past the last page, eager to know just what happened to Lily and how she will tear herself away from an undeniably horrific situation.

The story starts off pleasantly enough, with Lily crushing on an older man – her dad’s best friend who is fifteen years her senior, Luke. He is kind and sweet to her, making her fourteen-year-old self feel like she is the most important person in the world. The fact that he is staying with her family – including her parents and her younger sister – thrills Lily to no end, and she can’t believe her luck that he is in the room directly adjacent to hers.

When Lily gets a taste of what she has always wanted – a kiss from Luke – her world becomes upended, and she feels that life is finally fulfilling the only dream she’s ever known. Little does she know what she’s in for, as Luke’s manipulative and endearing qualities work hand in hand to cripple Lily’s belief in love, and even kindness.

Lily finds herself incapable of sharing her troubles with anyone, which is so true of the world today when people find ways to manipulate others to fulfill their own desires. Luke is the perfect portrait of a terrible guy wrapped up in a nice-looking and overall nice-seeming package. His generosity and friendliness make him the least suspicious person, but his true nature causes Lily catastrophic mental anguish.

Despite the fact that the conclusion is somewhat open-ended, the fact that Sonya Sones can write such beautiful and compelling verse, yet shed light on such heinous topics, is incredibly motivational for readers and writers alike. Anyone who enjoys contemporary romances, thrillers, novels-in-verse, or coming of age stories should rush to pick this up. It will grab readers and not let them go, all the while encouraging important discourse about topics that are too sadly prevalent in this day and age.

You can find ‘The Opposite of Innocent’ by Sonya Sones here (releases on September 4, 2018).

*Review originally posted at YABooksCentral.com*