Thanks to the @kidlitexchange network for the review copy of this book. All opinions are my own.
YOU DON'T KNOW EVERYTHING JILLY P
By Alex Gino
This new middle-grade title filled with heart, the latest from the awarding-winning author of George, is jam-packed with action, tension, and important social issues. It follows the story of Jilly, a book-loving hearing white girl (with hearing parents) in California whose baby sister is born Deaf. As well as journeying with Jilly and her parents as they navigate how best to support and raise the newest member of their family, the reader also sees Jilly dealing with race discrimination between members of her own extended family and also toward a friend she cares about.
The complex social issues raised in this story including Deaf culture, racism, and police violence make it an important read for middle-schoolers as they mature and begin to learn about the world around them. Hopefully, the book will provide a platform for caregivers, teachers, and peers to delve deeper into these subjects and ensure open-dialogue and conversations (even if uncomfortable) continue.
Gino's Author Notes at the end of the book are an important addition, providing more background and context for readers and educators.
Your heart might feel heavy with worry after reading this book but you'll be glad you did.
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Alan Cole Is Not A Coward
By Eric Bell
Get ready to be entertained, surprised, and inspired by Eric Bell's debut novel.
The main character and narrator, Alan, is masterfully portrayed as an unpopular yet likable and relatable middle-schooler. Although plagued by self-doubt, coming-out fears, and family issues he rises above all challenges and finds the courage to stay true to himself, and the people and ideas he believes in.
The secondary characters such as Alan's brother (Nathan) and Alan's friend (Zack) are equally memorable. And the depiction of middle school life is faultless.
This book will take you on a roller coaster ride of emotions, but it will be worth it for the hope and happiness you will feel in your heart at the conclusion. Suitable for middle-school readers and up.
Drum Roll, Please
By Lisa Jenn Bigelow
If you are ready to be transported to summer camp, Drum Roll, Please is just what you need!
Melly attends music camp with her best friend but she experiences much more than an improvement in her drumming. As well as managing her own self doubt and learning how to survive at sleep away camp in the isolated Michigan woods, there are difficult times with her best friend, her parents impending divorce, and a surprising first crush on a girl.
Through Melly’s eyes, Bigelow paints a vivid picture of the woods, camp site, and the emotional roller coaster Melly is riding. The friendships between the characters are delicate and complex and realistically portrayed. Melly’s first crush is explored innocently without unnecessary focus or dramatization.
A beautifully written, well executed story full of heart where each page turn brings more feels. Suitable for middle- grade readers and up.
Embrace your inner rocker and enjoy!