Bea is winning at being a shortstop, finally making headway with her crush, and is excited to go to summer camp with her friends when her dad’s legal license is suspended in a town scandal. Suddenly, she develops a case of the yips and begs her parents to send her to another softball summer camp on Gray Island, where her mom grew up. Throughout the summer, Bea learns more about her parents’ previous marriages and other secrets.
Review | In the Beautiful Country
Living in Taiwan with her mother, Ai Shi (Anna) eagerly anticipates living in the beautiful country (the US) where their father moved a few months ago. As she gives away her favorite clothes and toys to cousins in preparation for the move, she can’t help but brag about the new life awaiting them. But she’s in for a shock when they arrive at their cramped apartment. Her father was conned into buying a failing fast-food restaurant, and Anna’s parents struggle to make ends meet. At school, she feels like an outsider since she can barely speak English. On top of that, her parents are dealing with some unkind customers who mistreat them because they’re Asians. Can Anna find her way?
Review | Honeybees and Frenemies
Flor’s parents’ mattress store is struggling this summer, and her parents are fighting more than ever. The summer seems to get brighter when she gets a chance to be in their town’s local honey pageant with her frenemy (former friend turned bitter enemy) Candice. The girls’ friendship was ruined when Flor won the pageant in third grade, and Candice (the runner-up) suggested that she only won because she was half-Indian. Can the girls make it work now? And with Flor make it through the summer with her family intact?
Graphic Novel Review | Miss Quinces
What if all you wanted for the summer was to go to camp with your best friends and draw comics in peace — BUT your parents thought it was better to go to Honduras, where they’re from instead? That’s Sue’s dilemma. And then, on top of that, she finds out that her family is throwing her a surprise Quincenera against her wish. Will Sue survive the summer?
Graphic Novel Review | The Aquanaut
The Aquanaut is Dan Santat’s latest graphic novel. Sophia has been hanging out in Aqualand, the marine theme park her late father and uncle started. Her uncle is doing his best to finish Sophia’s late father’s marine project and Sophia seems to have little or no zest for school work. Imagine her shock when a diving suit controlled by sea creatures appears in Aqualand.
Review | Grow Up, Tahlia Wilkins
In Grow Up, Tahlia Wilkins, young Tahlia is excited to redeem herself at the end of school summer party hosted by the popular kid, Noah. The year before, she’d dressed in what she now realizes was a childish outfit (wearing a rashguard and shorts) while everyone else wore fancy swimsuits. This year, she’s ready to correct her mistakes and make a statement with her best friend Lily. That is until she gets her first period. It’s more stressful because her mother is out of town leaving her with her dad and two older brothers whom she can’t stand to tell about her period. With only Lily on her side, Tahlia has to figure out how to buy pads and tampons, use a tampon, avoid toxic shock syndrome, and make it to the pool party. Unbeknownst to her, life has a couple of other changes in store for Tahlia.
Review | Honestly Elliot
Honestly Elliot was a highly anticipated 2022 read for me — so much so that I read it in December 2021. Elliot has ADHD and loves to cook. He lives with his mom and spends time with his dad and step-mom regularly. His step-mom is pregnant and Elliot feels a bit threatened since his dad already seems disappointed in his seemingly scatter-brained behavior and the fact that he’s not an A+ student. He also wants to go to cooking camp and his dad refuses to pay for it, insisting that Elliot can go if he himself pays for it. When Elliot gets the chance to execute a food-related pop-up as part of a school-wide entrepreneurial project, he sees it as a chance for redemption. Unfortunately, he’s paired with popular girl Maribel who can’t eat gluten and wants them to make yummy pies without gluten. Can Elliot and Maribel pull this off without butting heads? The two quickly find that they have a lot more in common than they thought.
Review | Sofia Acosta Makes a Scene
Sofia Acosta Makes a Scene follows fifth grader Sofia Acosta who feels like the black sheep of her ballet-loving family. Her parents were professional dancers who emigrated from Cuba to the United States. Her sister, Regina is a ballet prodigy whose eyes are set on the American Ballet Theater (ABT) and even their little brother Manuel is an excellent ballet dancer. Sofia, though? She can’t stop stepping on people’s toes when she dances. What she loves the most is sewing the costumes for the dancers and hanging out with her best friend Tricia. But when a family friend visiting from Cuba hints at staying in the US long-term to dance for the ABT, Tricia’s response hints at prejudice that Sofia never saw coming. Will Sofia stand up for what’s right?
Review | When Winter Robeson Came
When Winter Robeson came to visit his cousin, Eden in the summer of 1965, he had another agenda. Winter is a 13-year-old boy visiting Los Angeles from Mississippi. Unbeknownst to Eden and her family, Winter isn’t just there to see Disneyland — he’s looking for his father J.T. Robeson who came to LA 12 years ago and never returned. Eventually, he gets Eden to help him on his search. Not long after, the Watts Riot erupts.
Review | Pizza My Heart
Pizza My Heart follows young Maya Reynolds whose parents are moving from Brooklyn, New York to a small town in Pennsylvania to expand their soul pizza business, Soul Slice. Having grown up in Brooklyn, Maya is devastated to have to leave her best friend and life behind for the move. In the new town, she gets off on the wrong foot with her first pizza delivery customer, who ends up being the son of her parents’ new interior decorator. Add a love for art, a new art exhibition she wants to join but may be unable to, new friends, and a potential new crush — Maya’s life quickly gets interesting.
Graphic Novel Review | Besties: Work It Out
Besties Beth and Chanda need to find a way to earn some money. Beth wants to give her mom a spa day while Chanda needs money to adopt a new pet (and prove herself responsible to her parents who are constantly comparing her to her big sister). But when the two land a house-sitting gig, they end up breaking their employer’s prized possession. Can they fix the problem without losing their friendship and reputation?
Review | The Swag Is in the Socks
The Swag Is in the Socks is Kelly J. Baptist’s newest middle grade offering. It stars young Xavier Moon whose parents are both incarcerated. Xavier is not the steal-the-spotlight kind of guy. He’s often in his room playing video games or watching stuff happen from his bedroom window. He also has a stutter that he’s working on — and he has braces. But the one thing Xavier really want to be a part of is the Scepter League, the elite after-school club that only accepts confident, exemplary tween boys. His father, great uncle, and grandfather are all alumni. But when Xavier doesn’t get in, he’s determined to prove to the club leaders that he can be a League boy. Fortunately, the cool socks that his great uncle Frankie Bell keeps sending him seem to be winning him popularity votes.