Review: The Girl Who Wasn’t There (Nancy Drew: Girl Detective Graphic Novels #4)

Title: The Girl Who Wasn’t There (Nancy Drew: Girl Detective Graphic Novels #4)
Author: Stefan Petrucha, Sho Murase
Genre: Young Adult, Graphic Novel
Publisher: Papercutz
Source: Library
Format: Ebook
Release Date: January 1, 2006
Rating: ★★★★

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Goodreads Synopsis:

Nancy gets a call for help late one night from a girl she befriended over the phone when getting technical support to help fix her computer. When the line goes dead, Nancy is determined to get to the bottom of things. Soon, Nancy, her Dad, and friends George and Bess are on their way to India to find Kalpana, the girl who wasn’t there! It’s only a matter of time before Nancy is captured by Sahadev the crime lord and is being sacrificed to Kali! Ages 8 to 12.

Review:

This graphic novel had a silly premise. Nancy became friends with a telemarketer in India. When the girl, Kalpana, called Nancy, she discovered that she was a fan of Nancy Drew, so they kept chatting. However, one day Kalpana went missing. Coincidentally, Nancy’s father was going on a business trip to India. Nancy and her friends tagged along to search for her friend.

It was a little strange that Nancy would drop everything to go find a girl who she had only spoken with on the phone. She didn’t know the girl well, but she was willing to travel across the world to find her. It may make Nancy seem like a great friend, but it was also foolish because she had no idea who this girl could be.

Though I had problems with the plot, the graphics in the book were great. I love how there was a depth of field because certain parts of the images were in focus while others were blurry or out of focus. It made the images look real. There was also movement in the pictures by making them look blurry on the edges to show people or things moving.

Despite the silly premise, I think Nancy Drew fans would like this graphic novel.

What to read next:

The Fake Heir (Nancy Drew: Girl Detective Graphic Novels #5) by Stefan Petrucha, Sho Murase

The Ocean Osyria (The Hardy Boys Graphic Novel #1) by Scott Lobdell, Lea Hernandez Seidman

Have you read The Girl Who Wasn’t There? What did you think of it?

Review: Best Babysitters Ever (Best Babysitters Ever #1)

Title: Best Babysitters Ever (Best Babysitters Ever #1)
Author: Caroline Cala
Genre: Middle Grade
Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Format: Ebook
Release Date: February 5, 2019
Rating: ★★★★

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Goodreads Synopsis:

A funny new middle grade series about three 12-year-old best friends who start a babysitting club in their small California town. Perfect for fans of series like Whatever After and the Dork Diaries.

Once upon a time, a girl named Kristy Thomas had a great idea: to form The Baby-Sitters Club with her best friends. And now twelve-year-old Malia Twiggs has had a great idea too. Technically, she had Kristy’s idea(And technically, little kids seem gross and annoying, but a paycheck is a paycheck). After a little convincing, Malia and her friends Dot and Bree start a babysitting club to earn funds for an epic birthday bash. But babysitting definitely isn’t what they thought it would be.  

Three friends. No parents. Unlimited snacks. And, okay, occasionally watching other people’s children. What could possibly go wrong? 

Review:

This is a great book about friendship.

Malia gets the idea to create a babysitting club after reading Kristy’s Great Idea, which is the first book in the Baby-Sitters Club series. I loved that series when I was growing up! This is a great way to update the story for today’s young readers. Even though there are new graphic novel versions of the Baby-Sitters Club books, some of the things in the books are still dated. This story had modern characters, complete with cell phones!

The story was fast paced. There were a lot of similarities between the characters in this book and the ones from the Babysitters club. For instance, Bree has a large blended family, just like Kristy in the Babysitters club. Malia has an annoying older sister just like Claudia. However, some of the characters were kind of extreme and annoying. Bree was emotional and cried a lot. She was also obsessed with glitter and Taylor Swift. She seemed very over the top most of the time.

I’m curious to see what happens next in this series, and to see how much it will be like the Baby-Sitters Club.

What to read next:

Kristy’s Great Idea (Baby-Sitters Club Graphic Novels #1) by Raina Telgemeier, Ann M. Martin

Have you read Best Babysitters Ever? What did you think of it?

Review: The Witch Boy (The Witch Boy #1)

Title: The Witch Boy (The Witch Boy #1)
Author: Molly Ostertag
Genre: Middle Grade, Graphic Novel
Publisher: Scholastic
Source: Library
Format: Ebook
Release Date: October 28, 2017
Rating: ★★★★★

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Goodreads Synopsis:

In thirteen-year-old Aster’s family, all the girls are raised to be witches, while boys grow up to be shapeshifters. Anyone who dares cross those lines is exiled. Unfortunately for Aster, he still hasn’t shifted . . . and he’s still fascinated by witchery, no matter how forbidden it might be.

When a mysterious danger threatens the other boys, Aster knows he can help — as a witch. It will take the encouragement of a new friend, the non-magical and non-conforming Charlie, to convince Aster to try practicing his skills. And it will require even more courage to save his family . . . and be truly himself.

Review:

This story looks at gender norms within a magical setting.

In this society, all of the girls are witches and all of the boys are shapeshifters. There are no exceptions. Aster wants to be a witch so he spies on the girls’ training. He gets caught many times but he persists. He hasn’t found the animal he will have to shape shift into yet, and he wants to learn magic. However, things take a dark turn when the boys start to go missing while searching for their shapeshifting animal.

I liked the way that this story explored gender norms. Just because the girls were supposed to be witches, doesn’t mean that Aster can’t join them. He shouldn’t be penalized for being a boy. This is true in real life where things are divided by gender, starting with baby clothes and toys. Dolls are for girls and trucks are for boys. However, these stereotypes are wrong and limiting to children.

The ending of this book was great and surprising. I loved this story!

What to read next:

The Hidden Witch (The Witch Boy #2) by Molly Ostertag

The Nameless City (The Nameless City #1) by Faith Erin Hicks

Have you read The Witch Boy? What did you think of it?

Review: Sticks and Stones (Upside-Down Magic #2)

Title: Sticks and Stones (Upside-Down Magic #2)
Author: Sarah Mlynowski, Lauren Myracle, Emily Jenkins
Genre: Middle Grade
Publisher: Scholastic Press
Source: Borrowed from a friend
Format: Paperback
Release Date: April 26, 2016
Rating: ★★★★★

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Goodreads Synopsis:

The kids in Upside-Down Magic know their magic is a little out of control. But that doesn’t make them weird–it only makes them human.

Strange things are happening at Dunwiddle Magic School-and the Upside-Down Magic class is getting blamed!

Yes, Marigold did shrink Lacey Clench to the size of a gerbil. But that was an accident. And, yes, most people weren’t prepared for Nory to transform into a squippy (that’s half squid, half puppy)-but it’s not like Nory meant to mix up paws and tentacles. And while Bax does have the unfortunate magical condition of turning into a stone, he swears he has nothing to do with the rocky magic that’s been happening in Dunwiddle’s halls.

When things get messy, it’s easy to point your finger at the kids with the messiest magic. But the Upside-Down Magic students aren’t going to let themselves get in trouble. Instead, they’re going to find out what’s really going on-and get their school back on track before something really wacky happens.

Review:

The kids in this story have special magic powers. Nory and her friends have upside-down magic because their powers don’t work the way they are supposed to. Though these kids have special powers, they still have to deal with ordinary school problems in this story.

Someone at the school is turning everything into stone. The other kids think it must be the upside-down magic class who is pranking them. Bax seems like the most obvious culprit because he can turn himself into a stone, but he claims he didn’t do it. Nory and her friends have to fight to remain in the school while they investigate the strange pranks.

What I love about this series is that it’s a well developed story. I enjoyed it and I was intrigued until the end, even though it’s aimed towards a younger audience. I didn’t guess what was happening, so I was surprised at the end but it also made sense.

This is a great series and I’m excited to see what happens next.

What to read next:

Showing Off (Upside-Down Magic #3) by Sarah Mlynowski, Lauren Myracle, Emily Jenkins

Fairest of All (Whatever After #1) by Sarah Mlynowski

Have you read Sticks and Stones? What did you think of it?

Review: The Unexpected Life of Oliver Cromwell Pitts

Title: The Unexpected Life of Oliver Cromwell Pitts
Author: Avi
Genre: Middle Grade, Historical Fiction
Publisher: Algonquin Young Readers
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Format: Ebook
Release Date: May 16, 2017
Rating: ★★★★★

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Goodreads Synopsis:

High adventure from a master storyteller about one boy’s attempt to fend for himself among cruel orphan masters, corrupt magistrates, and conniving thieves.

In the seaside town of Melcombe Regis, England, 1724, Oliver Cromwell Pitts wakes to find his father missing and his house flooded by a recent storm. He’s alone in his ruined home with no money and no food. Oliver’s father has left behind a barely legible waterlogged note: he’s gone to London, where Oliver’s sister, Charity, is in trouble. Exploring damage to the town in the storm’s aftermath, Oliver discovers a shipwreck on the beach. Removing anything from a wrecked ship is a hanging offense, but Oliver finds money that could save him, and he can’t resist the temptation to take it. When his crime is discovered, Oliver flees, following the trail of his father and sister. The journey is full of thieves, adventurers, and treachery–and London might be the most dangerous place of all.

In the tradition of his Newbery Honor book The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle, Avi mixes high adventure and short, page-turning chapters with a vivid historical setting featuring a cast of highwaymen, pickpockets, and villainous criminal masterminds.

Review:

This is an exciting, fast-paced story.

Oliver’s story starts out as a series of unfortunate events. His sister goes to London to find a better life, but it isn’t the life she thought it would be. Then his father disappears to go save his sister. Oliver is caught at a shipwreck, suspected of stealing, and then sent to a poorhouse. Then he has to travel to London with highwaymen who steal from carriages along the way.

This story was very fast-paced. Oliver never stayed in one place for very long, so the setting was always changing. He met many different people throughout the story and most of them were connected in some way.

I liked the ending of the story. There was a lot of tension while Oliver was in London! I’m excited to see where the story goes in the next book, The End of the World and Beyond.

What to read next:

The End of the World and Beyond by Avi

The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle by Avi

Have you read The Unexpected Life of Oliver Cromwell Pitts? What did you think of it?

Review: Sink or Swim (Whatever After #3)

Title: Sink or Swim (Whatever After #3)

Author: Sarah Mlynowski

Genre: Middle Grade

Publisher: Scholastic Press

Source: Library

Format: Ebook

Release Date: April 30, 2013

Rating: ★★★★★

Goodreads Synopsis:

Once again my brother and I are in hot water…

We weren’t planning to mess up the fairy tales. The first two times, we did it by accident. 

But when our magic mirror pulls us into the story of the Little Mermaid, we have no choice but to try and rewrite it. Let’s just say the original story does NOT end happily!

Now we need to:
– Convince our mermaid to keep her tail
– Plan a royal wedding
– Avoid getting eaten by sharks

We’ve got to find a happy ending for the Little Mermaid . . . before she’s fish food, and we’re lost at sea forever!

Review:

This story is based on the original story of The Little Mermaid by Hans Christian Andersen, not the Disney movie. In the original story, there wasn’t a happy ending for the mermaid. She made a deal with the sea witch to give up her tongue for legs. As part of the deal, if the prince married someone other than her, she would die. The prince ends up marrying someone else, so she dies at the end. Since Abby and Jonah enter the original fairytales in this series, they had to try to find a way to create a happy ending for the mermaid.

This was a really great story. There was loads of tension. It didn’t seem like they were going to get a happy ending for the mermaid, so the last few chapters had a lot of drama.

I love how this series teaches children the original fairytales, not just the Disney versions. Abby and Jonah alter the original stories so that the princess or main character gets a happy ending for herself, not just to please a man.

Have you read Sink or Swim? What did you think of it?

Review: Genesis Begins Again

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Title: Genesis Begins Again
Author: Alicia D. Williams
Genre: Middle Grade
Publisher: Simon and Schuster Canada
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Format: Ebook
Release Date: January 15, 2019
Rating: ★★★★

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Goodreads Synopsis:

This deeply sensitive and powerful debut novel tells the story of a thirteen-year-old who is filled with self-loathing and must overcome internalized racism and a verbally abusive family to finally learn to love herself.

There are ninety-six things Genesis hates about herself. She knows the exact number because she keeps a list. Like #95: Because her skin is so dark, people call her charcoal and eggplant—even her own family. And #61: Because her family is always being put out of their house, belongings laid out on the sidewalk for the world to see. When your dad is a gambling addict and loses the rent money every month, eviction is a regular occurrence.

What’s not so regular is that this time they all don’t have a place to crash, so Genesis and her mom have to stay with her grandma. It’s not that Genesis doesn’t like her grandma, but she and Mom always fight—Grandma haranguing Mom to leave Dad, that she should have gone back to school, that if she’d married a lighter skinned man none of this would be happening, and on and on and on. But things aren’t all bad. Genesis actually likes her new school; she’s made a couple friends, her choir teacher says she has real talent, and she even encourages Genesis to join the talent show.

But how can Genesis believe anything her teacher says when her dad tells her the exact opposite? How can she stand up in front of all those people with her dark, dark skin knowing even her own family thinks lesser of her because of it? Why, why, why won’t the lemon or yogurt or fancy creams lighten her skin like they’re supposed to? And when Genesis reaches #100 on the list of things she hates about herself, will she continue on, or can she find the strength to begin again?

Review:

This is an emotional story about a young girl who learns to love herself.

Genesis goes on a journey throughout this book. She starts out with friends who bully her and her family being evicted. She has to learn to love herself, but she makes many mistakes along the way, such as changing her hair, choosing the wrong friends, and even bleaching her skin.

Genesis is also bullied by her father. It was heartbreaking to see how her father yelled at her and put her down because she had his dark skin instead of her mother’s light skin. It was really difficult to read at times. Her strength was put to the test with all of the abuse, and she can’t be blamed for the things she did.

This book really tugged at my heart. It is an emotional, but powerful, story.

What to read next:

Blended by Sharon M. Draper

Tara Takes the Stage by Tamsin Lane

Have you read Genesis Begins Again? What did you think of it?