Review: Eighth Grade Is Making Me Sick by Jennifer L. Holm

eighth grade is making me sick

Eighth Grade Is Making Me Sick: Ginny Davis’s Year in Stuff by Jennifer L. Holm, illustrated by Elicia Castaldi

Ginny starts out 8th grade with big plans that she lists out.  They include trying out for cheer, being able to bike to school, sketching every day, and falling in love.  Ginny and her family have just moved to a newer, bigger house, but she’s able to stay at the same school.  Lots of things are going right for Ginny: she likes her science partner, she makes the cheer team, and she just might be falling in love too!  Unfortunately though, everything is not perfect.  Things get tough when Ginny’s mother gets pregnant and her step father loses his job.  As things start to cascade, Ginny starts to get sick.   Nothing is going like Ginny hoped it would.

This book is entirely told in objects like notes, texts, lists and letters.  Readers will love looking through the debris of Ginny’s life.  It’s almost like searching through someone’s stuff to find a storyline inside.  Castaldi’s art is a great mix of actual items and art, done in a popping mixed-media style.  The colors are pure teen-girl yet not stereotypical and I loved the inclusion of all of the books that Ginny was reading that readers can seek out too.

Holm has created a book that reads quickly and lightly, but also explores some of the deeper issues facing tweens today.  There is sickness, a blended family, and job loss to name a few.  Even friendships are explored in a deeper way than one would expect in a book this colorful and fun.

Reluctant readers and tweens who love to read will both enjoy this book which is honest and bright.  Appropriate for ages 9-12.

Reviewed from copy received from Random House.

Review: Squeak, Rumble, Whomp! Whomp! Whomp! by Wynton Marsalis

squeak rumble whomp

Squeak, Rumble, Whomp! Whomp! Whomp! by Wynton Marsalis, illustrated by Paul Rogers

Released October 9, 2012.

This very jazzy picture book will have your toes tapping along in no time.  It’s the story of a young boy who sees the noise, music and rhythm in everything around him.  From the squeak of the back door to the rumble of trucks on the highway, it all makes the music that surrounds him.  Throughout the book, real musical instruments are also woven into the loose storyline.  There are bass drums, his sister’s saxophone, violins, a trombone, tubas, and even a full band or two.  Coming from Marsalis, readers will not be surprised that the final instrument in the book is a trumpet, right before all of the noises and music come together at the end. 

So many musical books don’t quite work right, but this one really grooves.  The rhythms of the writing are catchy and great fun.  Incorporating the sounds of the world into the musical beat adds to the fun, showing rather than telling children that music can be found everywhere around them.  The writing is simple and effective, and I promise that your head will bob along to this song.

Rogers’ art is completely joyful.  He has incorporated the various noises into his illustrations, popping the lettering in orange color and wild large fonts.  Everyone in the book seems to be moving to the beat, inviting you to join the dance.

This is a dynamite book about music and sound that will have everyone moving along to the beat.  Appropriate for ages 3-5.

Reviewed from ARC received from Candlewick Press.

Roald Dahl Funny Prize – 2012 Shortlist

The 2012 Shorlist for the Roald Dahl Funny Prize has been announced.  There are two age categories with six books in each vying for the final prize of being the funniest British books of the year.

Here is the shortlist:



The Baby That Roared by Simon Puttock, illustrated by Nadia Shireen

My Big Shouting Day by Rebecca Patterson (US Title is My No No No Day)

Oh No, George by Chris Haughton


The Pirates Next Door by Jonny Duddle

Stuck by Oliver Jeffers

The Worst Princess by Anna Kemp, illustrated by Sara Ogilvie


AGES 7-14


Chitty Chitty Bang Bang Flies Again by Frank Cottrell Boyce, illustrated by Joe Berger

Dark Lord: The Teenage Years by Jamie Thomson, illustrated by Freya Hartas

The Dragonsitter by Josh Lacey, illustrated by Garry Parsons


Gangsta Granny by David Walliams, illustrated by Tony Ross

Goblins by Philip Reeve

Socks Are Not Enough by Mark Lowery