Witches of Brooklyn by Sophie Escabasse

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*Huge thank you to Random House Graphic for an ARC in exchange for an honest review*

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When Effie comes to stay at her aunt’s house, she quickly realizes that things are not as they seem. While Carlota and Selimene say they are simple naturalists, Effie can see they’re actually witches! When a celebrity needs her aunt’s help, Effie does all she can to assist them and in the process, learns about herself. 

So here we are again, with gays, witches, and adventures. Reading these books is my favorite part of this profession, and it will NEVER get old. So let’s dive right in! First, there’s the art. It’s beautiful, simple, a little quirky, and overall a treat for the ole eyeballs. I love the design of each character and how no two characters look anywhere similar to each other. It has a diverse group of people who come together to fight a common evil. I particularly love Effie’s pigtails and Selimene’s fashion choices. Both made me snort at random times throughout the story.

 I loved that the plot wasn’t too intense as it made for an overall enjoyable, relaxing read. To choose one favorite character would be difficult, but man I gotta give it to Francis, the librarian, who is in fact, an enchanted suit of armor. His dry, witty humor made me cackle every time, and he broke up any tension that the book may have been giving off. 

The story itself touched upon some really delicate topics like loss and love, but also the more grey areas of life like when you don’t like someone but like their art, and so on. The book doesn’t give a definitive answer to these problems, but rather shows parents and/or guardians how they could handle those difficult, grey area situations in the best way possible. I loved that about this book. As a child, I would find this comforting, and as an adult, I find this relieving to know that there are books out there who show that parents/guardians don’t have to have the answer to every question.

Such a wonderful little book, one that I will treasure when it’s time for me to have my own children.

Séance Tea Party by Reimena Yee

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*Huge thank you to Random House Graphic for an ARC in exchange for an honest review*

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    Lora is at that age where everyone around her is growing up. But Lora doesn’t feel like it, and slowly finds herself with less and less friends. Until one day she discovers a new – or rather old – friend in her attic in the form of Alexa, a ghost that lives in Lora’a home. The two become close and share a bond that we all once had as children, but lost in adulthood. As Lora faces challenges about growing up, Alexa tries to solve the mystery of her death, and why she is still lingering as a ghost. Throughout the story, the two face the world as a team, but they may grow up and apart in the process.

    My first reaction when seeing this book with the title and art was “Yes, I am HERE for this”. The art is whimsical, and the colors pop right out. As you should hopefully know by now, anything witchy is my aesthetic. So a seance tea party? Sign me up, fam. 

The description of the story on the back didn’t give me much insight into what the story was about, and I was okay with that. It would’ve been nice to know that it would make me ugly cry in a Starbucks, but we’ll get to that later. 

The story starts off a bit slow, showing the reader how Lora is slowly losing touch with her friends. There are no words on the first few pages, so the reader has to deduce what is going on by the pictures only. It was a nice introduction to the story, though some wording would’ve been nice. 

The story progresses quickly then, introducing Alexa the ghost and the main plot of the storyline. I won’t go into too many details to avoid ruining anything, just know that Lora and Alexa become very close all while Lora is growing up, and suddenly Alexa wants to grow up too. They grow apart because of this, but they each eventually find what they need.

So I wasn’t prepared for how emotional this book was going to make me, and decided to read it one Sunday afternoon in a Starbucks. I was pretty good up until the very end, and then completely lost it. This story covers the topic of death in a beautiful way, and having lost a few family members myself I could really sympathize with all the characters. It was so bad my husband inevitably had to distract me and tell me about his book that he was reading so I could compose myself and we could y’know, go back to that Starbucks in the future. The lesson I’m trying to teach you is that you should not read this book in public, or at least read it at a library where it’s safe to cry. Don’t be like me. Don’t ban yourself from a coffee shop.

Overall this book was beautifully drawn, wonderfully written, and had a genuine, heartfelt message about love, loss, and what it means to grow up. I absolutely loved it.

The Sad Little Fact by Jonah Winter

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There was once a sad little fact that nobody believed and everybody ignored. The sad little fact didn’t mind that nobody believed him, because a fact is a fact. But the fact police deemed him unnecessary, and told him to stop saying he was a fact or else. The sad little fact told them that he is a fact no matter what they do to him, and nothing can change that. So the fact police threw the sad little fact into a box and buried him underground, making sure no one would find him ever. Before the sad little fact had time to become more sad, he was greeted by many other facts that had been buried. They were all facts that nobody wanted to hear, and the sad little fact felt less lonely. Pretty soon, the fact police started created false facts, and everyone started noticing that the real facts were missing. In search of the truth, some people began digging for the real facts until they found them, and released them! Though there were some people who decided to ignore the facts, others decided that the truth was more important.

I cannot recommend this book enough for anyone to read, not just children. This book is magical in that it captures what is going on in the world currently without referencing anything. It is its own story, but also is a reminder that the truth isn’t always what we are presented with. Doing your own research and digging for the truth is necessary. Though children shouldn’t be bothered with adult problems like politics, or world issues, this is a wonderful introduction to prepare them for adulthood without burdening them with it. This is a fantastic book, and easily one of my favorites.

Witchlight by Jessi Zabarsky

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*Huge thank you to Random House Graphic for an ARC in exchange for an honest review*

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Sanja is an ordinary girl living an ordinary life when she meets Lelek the witch. The two set off to adventure together, and as they become closer their pasts begin coming to light. Being vulnerable is not something either is used to, and the pair struggle to navigate through all the secrets together, all while searching for answers to Lelek’s questions. 

Witches, gays, adventure, this book had everything I love about graphic novels. First off, the cover art. I knew I wanted to read this book as soon as I saw the cover, because let’s face it, I’m a sucker for lush illustrations and witches. I didn’t realize that Sanja was a girl based on the cover art, so being able to read it and see the LGBT+ aspects was a bonus for me! 

Then there was the story itself: it started off as many books with women protagonists do, with a girl living an ordinary life and then is suddenly thrust into a life of adventure. The difference with this story is how the author portrayed the two women: in a naked, vulnerable, and honest way. Each character had their own set of flaws, and unlike most stories, these two didn’t have all the answers or all the wisdom to handle the situations that arose gracefully. 

The two fumbled through what it meant to be close in such an innocent and honest way, it made me want to protect them from any outside danger. But obviously, since they’re fictional, I couldn’t, so I had to sit there and watch them make mistakes and get into trouble while screaming at them to stop. Overall a very awkward situation given I was in a coffee shop at the time. 

Overall a magnificent story, with sensational illustrations. My only critique would be that  I wish it was longer and had gone into more detail about certain things. I’m hoping the author makes a sequel to this as I’d love to know more about this whole world in general.

The Proper Way To Meet a Hedgehog by Paul Janeczko

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This book is a series of poems selected by Paul B. Janeczko. Each poem has a different author, but they all rhyme in a wonderful limerick way. The poems themselves are whimsical, and cover topics such as scaring monsters away, taking care of trees, and of course, properly meeting hedgehogs. Each poem is matched with a wonderful illustration that perfectly depicts what the poem is discussing. The poems themselves aren’t too long but give enough information to create a clear image.

I would highly recommend this book for anyone to read, especially children. The topics are all magical and whimsical, letting children’s imagination run free. The illustrations are beautifully done, with so much color and style to them. The poems themselves are pretty easy to understand and straight forward, but still fun to read. The authors all made sure that they were relevant to what children are experiencing, such as swinging on a swing, making snow angels, and seeing fireworks. The limerick to each poem made for easy and enjoyable reading, and in my opinion this would be a great storytime book to read to any and all children. Overall a really great book that anyone can enjoy.

The House Baba Built by Ed Young

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This book gives an overview of one family’s time in Shanghai, China, when there was a war going on. The Great Depression was in full gear, and China was beginning to be affected by it. The story follows a boy (the author) and his family as they try and live a good, safe, and healthy life through all the turmoil of the time. The father, Baba, was an engineer, and struck a deal with a landowner to create and build a large house with a pool. The story follows the author and his family through the seasons, sharing little stories here and there about their life. In one story, the author and his brothers trained crickets to fight. In another story, the author’s sisters steals seconds of dinner and blames her brother. It is a beautiful story of the little moments in life that we tend to forget.

I would not recommend this book for children, mostly because I can see them losing interest quickly. The pictures aren’t bright or colorful, they’re more artistic and remind me of a collage. While the stories are very sweet and fun to listen to, the book itself is rather long. I would recommend this for older readers though, and even adults, as it is a beautiful story to read.

Ten Rules of The Birthday Wish by Beth Ferry

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There are ten rules that must absolutely be followed when making a birthday wish. Those rules are depicted here in this book. There are rules that we all know of, such as making the wish and keeping it secret, but there are rules that maybe we hadn’t thought of, such as having a party, making a cake to share, and celebrating when it’s possible. This book was so inclusive, not only letting humans know how to celebrate a birthday, but animals as well. So many animals were mentioned in the book from insects, to camels, to sea urchins. Nobody was left out when making this book, and there was an exception to each rule to include everyone’s differences. 

I would highly recommend this book, for so many reasons. First of all, the illustrations are well drawn, cute, and depict what is going on in the funniest way possible. Second, the story is adorable, and joy-filled. Who doesn’t like talking about their birthday? The rules are pretty simplistic to follow and open to interpretation. Which leads to my next point, the fact that the book was so inclusive. I know it was referring to animals in the book, but letting the reader know that these rules aren’t hard and fast and have exceptions was wonderful. It lets everyone know who is reading it that no matter the differences, anyone can celebrate a birthday and make a magical birthday wish. Such a sweet book.

Summer Green to Autumn Gold by Mia Posada

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This wonderfully colorful book depicted the life cycle of the leaves in the trees. It explained what cells and chloroplasts are, and even chlorophyll. It went on to describe the life cycle of the leaves and how when it becomes fall, the chlorophyll stops producing, since the tree’s life cycle is ending. The leaves change color because the chlorophyll has stopped producing the color green, and eventually in the winter the trees sleep. In the spring, new buds start to sprout, all filled with new chlorophyll, and the cycle begins again. 

I would highly recommend for anyone to read, as it is a great introduction to the seasons and how trees are affected by them. Learning about chloroplasts and chlorophyll was so fun, and the author made it easily digestible. The illustrations were beautiful too, especially the pages filled with various types of leaves. On each page, the text of the book would change colors or highlight colors to match what it was trying to say, which was very helpful. Overall a wonderful book about the seasons and the tree

Sea Sirens: A Trot and Cap’n Bill Adventure by Amy Chu

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“He wasn’t trying to save ANYONE. He’s just a cat!”

Trot, a young girl living off of Huntington Beach, California, loves nothing more than spending the day surfing with her cat, Cap’n Bill. While surfing during a storm Trot crashes into a wave, and almost loses her faithful companion, Cap’n Bill. As she dives into the water to save him, she is met face to face with mer-people, sirens! The sirens take Trot and Cap’n Bill back to their kingdom. While a festival begins, Trot’s grandfather shows up! He followed Trot and Cap’n Bill to the siren kingdom. But his dementia causes the sirens kingdom and a neighboring kingdom to almost come to war. How will Trot handle this predicament? 

I feel mixed about this book, like it was missing substance. I wanted to like it, the illustrations were luscious and beautiful, but the story needed some work. The relationship between Trot and Cap’n Bill seemed off, like the author was trying to make them seem close but it wasn’t landing right. The sirens themselves seemed overall bland and stereotypical, having predictable reactions to a human in their midst and dealing with enemy kingdoms. Overall, the story felt rushed and like it was missing details. The graphics are beautiful though.

Sad Underwear: And Other Complications by Judith Viorst

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This book is broken up into sections, and each section has poems about it. For example, there is a section about moms and dad’s that reflect the day-to-day life of living with adults, and there is a section about questions, where the poems are about questions children may ask. The author did an excellent job in creating poems that children could relate to. In some of the works, the author talks about who decided that roses are flowers and dandelions are weeds, or who decided that burping was rude. In another example, the author talks about things that shouldn’t exist, such as getting cavities and liver for supper. All of these poems expertly give a look into the world of children. There are no existential topics such as death or love, but rather topics that actually affect children and their day to day life. 

I would highly recommend this book for anyone, not just children. Again, I really felt like the author got inspiration from Shel Silverstein. The poems were tailored to children and their everyday life, I felt like a child again reading them. They aren’t overbearing or sad, they merely discuss the inconveniences children experience. Who doesn’t wish they could talk about their mother’s infamous cooking skills, or having to apologize when they didn’t mean it? These are things children are learning about and living through, and it really does an excellent job of connecting with children on their level. Overall a wonderfully written book, with beautiful, minimal illustrations to complete it.