Book Reviews, Contemporary, Fantasy, Middle Grade, Science Fiction

Mini Book Reviews: May 2020 – Part 2


*Books included in this batch of mini book reviews: You Don’t Know Everything, Jilly P! by Alex Gino, We’re Not From Here by Geoff Rodkey, Here in the Real World by Sara Pennypacker, and Keeper of Lost Cities (Keeper of the Lost Cities #1) by Shannon Messenger


» You Don’t Know Everything, Jilly P! by Alex Gino



5-Star Rating System

After reading George, I knew I wanted to read more of Gino’s work.  You Don’t Know Everything, Jilly P! centers around Jilly, a young girl who is learning about hearing difficulties and ASL after it is discovered that her baby sister is hearing impaired.  WhatILiked» The best part of this book was learning more about the deaf/hearing impaired and the difficulties that this community faces in a world that is geared towards the hearing.  The hearing impairment representation was well done and handled with care.

» I love that Gino’s books tackle heavy topics geared towards a middle grade audience.  This book goes into topics such as deaf culture, racism, police violence, etc.  Gino’s books can be used as tools to open up dialogue between parent & child about these relevant topics.

» I appreciated that Gino included Jilly’s parents consulting different doctors, with vastly different opinions, in regards to Emma’s hearing impairment.   I think this was a wonderful perspective to include: the struggle parents feel about conflicting medical advice & the choices they make in the best interest of their child.

» I loved the fandom aspect where Jilly participates in a fandom chatroom based off her favorite fantasy book series.

WhatIDidntLike» The “initialisms” between Jilly’s friend Macy & Jilly’s dad.  It was over-the-top & annoying.

» While I appreciate Gino tackling heavy topics, I wish they would have focused strictly on the hearing difficulties and not have included the racial issues.  I would have preferred to see each of these topics handled in two separate stories.

› Recommended to ⇒ fans of MG books with heavy topics

› Trigger/content warnings ⇒ racism; police violence; ableism

› If you liked this book, try ⇒ Wonder by R.J. Palacio


» We’re Not From Here by Geoff Rodkey



5-Star Rating System WhatILiked» At it’s core, We’re Not From Here was a powerful social commentary on immigration.  Rodkey did a wonderful job with his portrayal of the immigrant experience of taking the reader and placing them in the shoes of someone that has immigrated from another place.  I feel like this book will be relatable for many kids, not only for the immigrant experience aspect for those that are immigrants, but also being relatable for all kids that find themselves in any type of new situation.

» We’re Not From Here highlights the ways that media can skew perspective, which isn’t something I’ve seen addressed in the middle grade target audience before.

» This could be used in a classroom setting because I think it will appeal to a wide variety of readers.  It would also be a great book to recommend to reluctant readers.

» I was delightfully surprised at how funny this book was.  I think the author did a wonderful job tackling such heavy topics while keeping things lighthearted & entertaining.

»  While I didn’t realize it while I was reading, the main character’s gender is never revealed.  I’m a little ashamed to admit that I assumed Lan was male, but there is never any indication if Lan identified as male, female, or none of the above.WhatIDidntLike»  Things were tied up a little too nicely at the end.  I would have liked things to have ended a little messier for a more realistic feeling, or more open ended.

› Recommended to ⇒ MG Sci-fi fans

› Trigger/content warnings ⇒ discrimination; hate

› If you liked this book, try ⇒ Other Words for Home by Jasmine Warga *For an immigrant experience story*


» Here in the Real World by Sara Pennypacker



5-Star Rating System

*3.5 Stars*WhatILiked» This was a sweet story about two kids that form a friendship while hanging around an abandoned lot.  I love characters that march to the beat of their own drum, which is very true of the main character Ware, and his new “friend” Jolene.

» Here in the Real World includes some wonderful themes like friendship, individuality, self-acceptance, and imagination.  This is a very heartwarming type of read.

»  I think aspects of this book will be very relatable for some kids.  Many kids have feelings of not fitting in or feeling different than their peers.  This book celebrates individuality.

WhatIDidntLike» The first half of this book didn’t grab me and moved far too slowly.  I enjoyed the second half of this book a lot better than the first half.  There was just something off about this story for me.  I can’t put my finger on what exactly, but I just found it to be “okay”

» I feel like Jolene outshined Ware, the main character.  I would have liked to see this book told in dual perspective in alternating chapters between Ware & Jolene.

» I feel like we were introduced to a lot of different side plots that the Pennypacker never fully explored or resolved.

› If you liked this book, try ⇒ The Egypt Game by Zilpha Keatley Snyder


» Keeper of Lost Cities (Keeper of the Lost Cities #1) by Shannon Messenger



5-Star Rating SystemWhatILiked» Do not let the page count deter you from attempting this book.  Despite Keeper of Lost Cities being close to 500 pages, I flew through it.  Action packed from start to finish, this is a wild adventure ride.

» I really enjoyed the world & magic system in Keeper of Lost Cities.  I loved the concept that elves live in a parallel world separate from humans and that the majority of elves each have some type of special affinity.

» This book gave me Harry Potter feels.  I know I would have LOVED this as a tween.  Like Harry Potter, this book can appeal to a wide audience.  While there are a lot of the same elements in this book as Harry Potter, I think it had enough unique elements.

» There are so many endearing characters within these pages.WhatIDidntLike» I wanted more character development in Grady and Edaline and more insight into their home at Havenfield.

» I wanted a bit more insight into Sophie’s classes at Firefox & the process of her honing her special abilities.

» Does EVERY male character have to have a crush on Sophie?OverallThis series deserves all the hype it has been receiving!  Despite a few annoyances, I still loved every minute of my reading experience.  I cannot wait to continue on with this series.

› Recommended to ⇒ Harry Potter fans; MG fantasy fans

› If you liked this book, try ⇒ Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone (Harry Potter #1) by J.K. Rowling or The Trials of Morrigan Crow (Nevermoor #1) by Jessica Townsend



Have you read any of these books?  If so, what did you think?

Comment below & let me know 🙂

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3 thoughts on “Mini Book Reviews: May 2020 – Part 2”

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