‘The Golden Thread: A Song for Pete Seeger’ by Colin Meloy Book Review

‘The Golden Thread: A Song for Pete Seeger’ by Colin Meloy, illustrated by Nikki McClure, took a bit to get into, owing to the prologue of sorts that took up the first few pages of the story. However, once the main story began, that delved into the biography of Pete Seeger and how his life moved from childhood to marriage to his singing career and more, the pace picked up and the rhymes, much like his songs, were imbued with his passion.

Learning about how he fits into history, from being accused of Communist leanings, to his role in the fight for Civil Rights, it is interesting to learn about Pete Seeger’s interest in social causes. The illustrations do a fine job of telling the story of his life, and the timeline at the end of the book helps connect all of the ideas throughout the rest of the story.

A worthwhile and interesting read about one of the more influential songwriters of the 20th century, ‘The Golden Thread: A Song for Pete Seeger’ weaves the beauty of music with the truth of his life story.

You can find ‘The Golden Thread: A Song for Pete Seeger’ by Colin Meloy, illustrated by Nikki McClure, here.

*Review originally posted at YABooksCentral.com*

‘Just Being Jackie’ by Margaret Cardillo Book Review

‘Just Being Jackie’ by Margaret Cardillo, illustrated by Julia Denos, is a beautiful and culturally significant biography of former first lady, Jackie Kennedy. The fact that the story starts out by presenting aspects of Jackie’s life before meeting her husband, future President of the United States John F. Kennedy, shows that the book truly wanted to uncover and allow readers to discover more of Jackie’s life and loves. From her love of travel to her passion for good will, fashion, and more, her legacy is more than just that of being the widow of the former president. Her world, despite being shattered by the loss of her husband to his assassination, is one that shines, showcasing the way she maintained her focus on her own truth, rather than allowing herself to let it be dictated for her by others. If only there were more people in the world like Jackie Kennedy, famous and non-famous alike, who were able to stand up for what they believed in, not to be hindered by anyone standing in their way.

In ‘Just Being Jackie,’ Cardillo and Denos, through interesting words and thoroughly colorful and engaging illustrations, insert readers into Jackie Kennedy’s life, making them interested in learning more about her life and the lives of those she touched. Despite it being a picture book, it would likely appeal to older kids and adults as well.

You can find ‘Just Being Jackie’ by Margaret Cardillo, illustrated by Julia Denos, here.

*Review originally posted at YABooksCentral.com*

‘The Trail Rules’ by Melanie Hooyenga Book Review

‘The Trail Rules’ by Melanie Hooyenga does a great job of capturing the personality and drama of main character Mike (full name: Mikayla) and how her friends and family factor into her life in easy and not-so-easy ways. The first sequel to ‘The Slope Rules,’ to be followed by another sequel later in 2018 titled ‘The Edge Rules,’ this particular novel follows Mike and her fascination with bike riding on the trails near where she lives.

Even though her love of riding stemmed from her relationship with boyfriend, Evan, she starts feeling different about him and life in general when she realizes that she craves trust and independence from the life she has known. Having given up some friends and her former lifestyle in recent months, for what she considers the better, she finds her way back to Evan. Their relationship seems wonderful and happy on the surface, but Mike is beginning to feel that Evan doesn’t understand what she wants or needs, and it is hard for her to determine how to move forward – or not – as his girlfriend. He has been what she thought she wanted for so long, and reconciling her feelings about him with these new emotions she’s feeling is harder than she could imagine.

Making her decision somewhat easier – and also harder, in a sense – is her interest in another trail rider named Mica and her parents’ crackdown on her time studying. Even though they feel she should be home immediately after school to start her homework and only go out on the weekends, she finds herself drawn to the trail. Being name twins with Mica is only one of the factors that draws her to him and their mutual love of riding, but knowing he’s not her boyfriend makes it hard to consider starting something up with him when and if she ends things with Evan. She wants to be challenged and supported, and the fact that the grass always seems greener on the other side makes Mica all that much more appealing (not that Evan is so bad to begin with).

Mike’s trouble with making up her mind, figuring out how to deal with old friends who seem “off” even though she promised herself and others she’d stay away, and doing her best to take new steps in her life causes a good amount of strife and heartache. But so is life, and Mike learns this throughout the course of the novel while Hooyenga injects a solid amount of swoon-worthy scenes, biking lingo, and senses of understanding for Mike’s troubles. A fun read that is good for not only lovers of contemporary romance, but also sports enthusiasts.

You can find ‘The Trail Rules’ by Melanie Hooyenga here.

*Review originally posted at YABooksCentral.com*

‘Positively Izzy’ by Terri Libenson Book Review

‘Positively Izzy’ by Terri Libenson included dual viewpoints by two characters, both of whom were dealing with their own issues and insecurities over the school talent show. Izzy and Brianna are two girls who have very different personalities and sensibilities. While Izzy loves taking part in drama club and preparing for the talent show, she is not nearly as focused on her schoolwork, much to her mother’s and older sister’s chagrin. Brianna, on the other hand, is studious enough for herself and Izzy, claiming at times that she’d rather be home working on homework than getting roped into the talent show by her mother, who just so happens to be the drama club teacher.

Izzy’s and Brianna’s paths hardly cross in the story, which seemed a bit strange and somewhat confusing throughout, but the reasoning behind this becomes more than clear by the novel’s end, and readers can go back and see how all of the ideas come together. The relationship between the two girls is an interesting one, brought about by dynamics that neither of them could have necessarily predicted. Despite their differences, they find ways to forge a common ground as a means of enjoying a stronger bond with each other. Family and friends are also very important to both girls, showing that they are more similar than they might think.

An intriguing and sweet read about the dynamics of relationships and finding new ways to put oneself out there and find new ways of enjoying oneself, ‘Positively Izzy’ is a fun middle-grade novel, and the illustrations will only heighten the reading experience.

You can pre-order ‘Positively Izzy’ (due out on May 1, 2018) by Terri Libenson here.

*Review originally posted at YABooksCentral.com*

‘Pinkalicious at the Fair’ by Victoria Kann Book Review

‘Pinkalicious at the Fair’ by Victoria Kann captures the adorable nature of a girl named Pinkalicious and a fun day out with her friend, Molly, at the fair. Now that Pinkalicious has a new show on PBS, it’s hard to see her without her brother, Peterrific. However, Pinkalicious is a force unto herself, spreading joy and love everywhere she goes through her excitement about every situation.

From riding the carousel to eating cotton candy, playing Unicorn Ring Toss to visiting a petting zoo, Pinkalicious and Molly enjoy being a pair and roaming the fair grounds as they take on each new adventure.

Fans of the Pinkalicious books as well as the TV show will feel right at home in this new installment in Kann’s series. A delightful read for children and their parents.

You can find ‘Pinkalicious at the Fair’ by Victoria Kann here.

*Review originally posted at YABooksCentral.com*

‘Rabbit & Possum’ by Dana Wulfekotte

‘Rabbit & Possum’ by Dana Wulfekotte is a sweet story about two friends who are having a rough day, but end up making the most of it. When Possum is scared by a “monster” in the bushes, he rushes up a tree. While Rabbit scrambles to find a way to get Possum down safely, including getting the “monster” – which turns out to be a moose – involved, Possum all but gives up hope, sure that nothing Rabbit will do will help him escape the clutches of the tree in which he is now stuck. The fact that the moose is involved in one of the rescue attempts only strengthens Possum’s resolve to stay put. The cutest solution was when Rabbit built a ladder that turned out to be way too small for what Possum needed, showing Rabbit’s resolve when he continued to attempt to save his friend.

Rabbit’s tried and true attempts, including bringing the thing that Possum is most afraid of – the moose – shows how sometimes being scared is only a product of not knowing enough about what one fears. Friendship and seeing how things can work out in the end despite constantly thinking to the contrary are relevant themes in this adorable story that anyone can relate to, and which is brought more to life through the simple, yet enjoyable illustrations.

You can find ‘Rabbit & Possum’ by Dana Wulfekotte here.

*Review originally posted at YABooksCentral.com*

‘If the S in Moose Comes Loose’ by Peter Hermann Book Review

‘If the S in Moose Comes Loose’ by Peter Hermann, illustrated by Matthew Cordell, is a fun and adventurous story about a moose whose letters break apart, making it impossible for him to be who he is, while his cow friend hurries around trying to put him back together again. Playing with words is always fun, and showing children through a story like this how words are very adaptable based on just one letter gives the story an invigorating quality. Cow has to use his knowledge of what letters other words have to find the letters he needs to glue moose’s letters back together. From searching for an “L” and finding a “lake” to exchanging the “L” for a “C” to make “cake,” all the while trying to form the letters to make the word “glue,” there is much fun to be had in Hermann and Cordell’s story. Cow’s insistence on making things right shows how the power of letters is not the only important theme at work in the story, as friendship and hard work are also quite evident.

Language, despite seeming easy when you know the words, can still be a mystery at times. ‘If the S in Moose Comes Loose’ proves that this is really true, and the fact that it is reminiscent of a similarly themed kids’ show, Word World, makes it even more engaging through familiarity, for those who have both seen the show and read this book. Definitely recommended for young children, as they will be spelling out words and testing out sounds as they read.

You can find ‘If the S in Moose Comes Loose’ by Peter Hermann here.

*Review originally posted at YABooksCentral.com*

‘Rebel with a Cupcake’ by Anna Mainwaring Book Review

‘Rebel with a Cupcake’ by Anna Mainwaring deals with a vast array of themes, mostly stemming from self-esteem issues that the main character – Jesobel, or Jess for short – encounters. It doesn’t do much to stroke her ego that her mother is a former model and her sister, Cat, is thin and beautiful. However, despite Jess’ weight, she tends to feel good about herself, until a brawl at school with one of the mean girls makes her start questioning what she wants to do to make some sort of change. Coupled with the mean girl, Zara, who has nothing better to do with her life than make mean remarks for the sake of staying on her high horse, Jess also is trying to win the attention of Matt, a cute musician from whom she gets some mixed signals. He seems to like her, but he also comes across as sort of being for himself. The thing is, though, that when a girl likes a guy, it tends to happen that she disregards things that anyone not interested in the guy could otherwise see very easily. Being smitten takes away a certain amount of clarity, which could be good if the guy has good and noble intentions, but in Jess’ case only keeps her from seeing that someone else is waiting in the wings, hoping that she will realize that Matt is not necessarily the answer to the problems she is trying to solve.

Along with her best friends and her sometimes snarky, yet witty and sweet attitude, she comes across as a girl who shouldn’t be so worried about the pressures of teen life, yet falls victim to them just like anyone else. She learns that everyone has self-esteem issues, no matter how seemingly thin, heavy, happy, or mean they may be. This sometimes gave way to unnecessarily rude comments that surely happen, but seemed to plague Jess more than what the average person should have to endure in terms of comments about her weight. Even teachers and her own family, at times, caused her undue stress that should have been minimized by these people rather than maximized. Despite this, she finds solace in her family as the novel progresses.

In ‘Rebel with a Cupcake,’ Anna Mainwaring has shown that everyone has issues that trouble them. It’s the way that people cope with those issues and face the problems and people that have caused them stress that shape the path for becoming a newer version of oneself.

You can find ‘Rebel with a Cupcake’ by Anna Mainwaring here.

*Review originally posted at YABooksCentral.com*

‘Smart Cookie’ by Elly Swartz Book Review

‘Smart Cookie’ by Elly Swartz was a predictable, yet cozy feeling story about growing up and all of the troubles that go along with it. Main character Frankie is a friendly and sweet girl, alternately longing to set her father up so she can once more have a “complete” family, while at the same time trying to figure out her own friendships as well as how to save the bed and breakfast she and her family own. Frankie thinks she can solve it all, but the fact that she is only a sixth grader throws a wrench in her plans much of the time.

Along with her best friend and neighbor, Elliot, she tries to figure out how to save the day and what she feels is left of her family. After her mother died when she was four years old, it hasn’t felt quite whole enough for her, despite her maternal grandmother (Gram) moving in and being there for Frankie and her father. Now that years have passed since she lost her mother, her father is mysteriously even more busy than usual much of the time, as is Gram, and Frankie and Elliot are doing what any pre-adolescents would be doing – looking for something to occupy their time. They (mostly Elliot, but Frankie goes along for the ride) dabble in looking for ghosts, which seems to be a big reason why the bed and breakfast is not doing so well, since people are under the impression that the place is haunted, leading Frankie to believe their business and home is in a lot of trouble since town bad guy Reggie always seems to be lurking and waiting to snatch up the B&B the first chance he gets.

As the story continued, the feeling of family that Frankie felt was not necessarily around is obviously there, despite her not noticing it, lending an ‘It’s A Wonderful Life’ style vibe. Her relationship with ex-best friend Jess seemed believable, as kids are always going in and out of friendships, but it was never really explained what happened with them to begin with, beyond Frankie and Elliot’s own speculation on the matter. However, the family and friends vibe, coupled with the idea that things can work out even when you least expect them to, makes the predictability of ‘Smart Cookie’ something that readers can be okay with, since it’s sometimes nice for things to work out just the way one expects, but with a few twists and turns along the way for good measure.

You can find ‘Smart Cookie’ by Elly Swartz here.

*Review originally posted at YABooksCentral.com*

‘The 11:11 Wish’ by Kim Tomsic Book Review

‘The 11:11 Wish’ by Kim Tomsic basks in the power of the unthinkable, yet totally imaginable. Every young person (and adult, for that matter) has moments when they wish that things could go their way, even if just for a little while, to make the universe seem right and in order with what they feel will give them happiness. So it is for Megan Meyers as she finds herself worried about whether she will fit in at her new school after a move and a big change in her family.

Along with her dad and her sister, who provide just the right amount of empathy and care, even though they don’t always know what’s going on with her, Megan works to fit in at Saguaro Prep. This is made all that much more difficult when she unwittingly finds herself smack in the middle of a power struggle for Spirit Captain between two of the more popular girls in school, Ally and Rhena. While Ally befriends Megan and makes her feel like she isn’t alone, Rhena tacks on a lot of phony kindness of her own, showing her true colors, yet at the same time causing Megan to question herself about how she wants to fit in at her new school and what the best way to do that is – even if it’s not necessarily what would be considered the “right” way to go about it.

Between her love of animals and her crush on a guy she’s just met but feels connected to, Megan has a lot going on as the school year begins. When she wishes on a clock in the shape of a cat in one of her classrooms, life takes some crazy turns, bringing magic and mystery to everything Megan desperately longs for but thinks she can’t have without wishing for it.

Even though the fantasy aspects of the story were beyond the realm of reality, the underlying themes of figuring out one’s own way of fitting in, learning how not to care what others think, and keeping a promise to oneself that might include owning one’s own voice and not letting others speak on one’s behalf are all incredibly relevant themes for young people nowadays. Tomsic has crafted a strikingly real world with a magical touch always surrounding it. It shows that wishes can come true, and maybe sometimes even through one’s own means.

You can find “The 11:11 Wish’ by Kim Tomsic here.

*Review originally posted at YABooksCentral.com*