Book Reviews, Contemporary, Fantasy, LGBTQIA+, Middle Grade

Mini Book Reviews: July 2020 – Part 3


*Books included in this batch of mini book reviews: Drama by Raina Telgemeier, New Kid (New Kid #1) by Jerry Craft, Ghost Boys by Jewell Parker Rhodes, & The Bridge Home by Padma Venkatraman


» Drama by Raina Telgemeier


add-to-goodreads-button5-Star Rating System

*3.5 Stars*

#PrideMonth  WhatILiked» Drama is a middle grade graphic novel that includes themes like friendship, team work, acceptance, identity, and tween feelings.

» I loved how this book centered around middle school aged kids and their school’s theater production.   I really appreciated that the main character, Callie, was in a stage crew role versus an on stage role.  I enjoyed watching the leg work that goes into a show – set design, costumes, lighting, etc.

» Callie was such a realistic middle grade character.  Callie was spunky, dedicated, creative, driven, and most of all – she beats to the sound of her own drum.  Don’t get me wrong, she had her own share of “drama” but for the most part, Callie felt very authentic.

» I applaud the inclusion of gay characters in a MG graphic novel.  While we are seeing the inclusion of many more LGBTQIA+ characters in YA novels, they are few and far between in MG novels.WhatIDidntLike» I think coming off a Svetlana Chmakova graphic novel made this one a bit dull in comparison… If I am being honest, I enjoy Chmakova’s illustrations & characterizations more.

› Recommended to ⇒ those looking for a GN centered around a theater production/drama club

› If you liked this book, try ⇒ Crush (Berrybrook Middle School #3) by Svetlana Chmakova


» New Kid (New Kid #1) by Jerry Craft



5-Star Rating SystemWhatILiked» New Kid is an excellent MG graphic novel about a black boy attending a predominately white private school for the first time.  This story follows Jordan in his day-to-day life, which is packed with the microaggressions that Jordan faces in his new school by fellow students and teachers.

» It was heartbreaking to watch Jordan straddle two different identities, his school identity and his home identity.  The scenes where we watch Jordan transform on the bus depending on which neighborhood he is in were so powerful.

» New Kid includes serious topics like identity, parental pressures, racial issues, and poverty.  Despite the inclusion of heavier topics, Craft balances out the narrative with light-hearted moments & clever humor.  This would be an excellent book for parents and/or educators to put into the hands of tweens to start a dialogue about some of the topics included in this graphic novel.

» I loved the inclusion of Jordan’s comics sprinkled throughout the novel.  I thought this was a great way to illustrate his feelings.WhatIDidntLike» I didn’t feel that Jordan’s passion for art or desire to attend art school was sufficiently wrapped up.  This part of the plot just sort of fizzled out.

› Recommended to ⇒ reluctant readers

› Trigger/content warnings ⇒ racism

› If you liked this book, try ⇒ The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas *YA target audience*


» Ghost Boys by Jewell Parker Rhodes



5-Star Rating SystemWhatILiked» Ghost Boys is a book about police brutality geared for the middle grade audience.  I felt like the author did an amazing job writing such a serious topic in a way that didn’t sugarcoat it, but still felt very appropriate for the intended audience at the same time.

» I really thought the execution of this story was well done.  We follow Jerome in an alternating timeline prior to and after his death at the hands of a police officer.  I felt the format suited to story very well.

» This is a very emotional read.  It made me ugly cry.  While I read the print format, I’m fairly sure the audiobook would have probably destroyed me.

» I would recommend this book to parents looking to open a dialogue about racism & police brutality with their middle grade aged kids.  Some parents may feel that police brutality is too sensitive a topic for this audience, but I strongly disagree.  These are the types of books we need to encourage our children to read.

› Recommended to ⇒ parents & educators looking for a book to read with kids to discuss police brutality

› Trigger/content warnings ⇒ racism; police brutality; murder of a child

» The Bridge Home by Padma Venkatraman



5-Star Rating SystemWhatILiked» Set in India, The Bridge Home is an heartbreaking tale of two sisters who ran away from an abusive home.  This book punched me in the feels and made me ugly cry.  How can one book be so heartbreaking but hopeful at the same time?

» At first, the second person point of view was a bit disorienting.  I was unsure why the author chose to tell this story this way, but it became clear as the story went on.  The second person point of view made for an emotionally charged read.

» I really adored the sisters, Viji & Rukku, and their love for one another.  My heart ached for Viji throughout this story.  She truly was trying to do the right thing for herself & her sister.

» I’ve always been a sucker for a group of “misfits” coming together and forming a little crew.  I loved the dynamics between Viji, Rukku, Muthi, and Arul.  It was heartwarming to see them help each other and become a family unit.

» I commend Venkatraman for her neurodiverse representation with the inclusion of a main character with a developmental disability.  We need more books geared toward the middle grade audience with neurodiverse representaion.

» For such a little book, The Bridge Home dives into some tough topics like the Indian caste system, domestic abuse, child abuse, developmental disability, homelessness, child labor, poverty, and death.

› Trigger/content warnings ⇒ domestic abuse; child abuse; poverty; homelessness

› If you liked this book, try ⇒ Amal Unbound by Aisha Saeed




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

Comment below & let me know 🙂

What I'm Reading




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

  1. I’m reading The Bridge Home right now, and in a lot of ways it’s really reminding me of an adult book I read earlier this year called Behind the Beautiful Forevers. I’m thinking about recommending them as a good adult/kid read-alike. The New Kid is easily my favorite graphic novel EVER.


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