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Posts by Carissa

High stakes of middle school

Cover of Power Up
A review of Power Up by Sam Nisson, illustrated by Darnell Johnson

Although Miles and Rhys attend the same school, they don't know each other in real life, but in the online game Mecha Melee they are triumphant besties known as Gryphon and Backslash. The action in the book switches back and forth between in-game action and real-life family and middle school drama. The students at their school make up a diverse cast of background characters. Miles and his family are Black, and Rhys and his family have light brown skin and straight, dark hair.

Dec 10, 2021

A Snapshot of history

Cover of Jazz Day
A review of Jazz Day by Roxane Orgill

Have you ever looked a group picture and wondered what was happening as the shot was captured? Well, Roxane Orgill’s Jazz Day does just that, and more. The photograph Harlem 1958 is now famous for picturing 57 jazz musicians in Harlem on August 12, 1958. Photographer Art Kane called for any and all jazz musicians to gather for the picture and Jazz Day places you in the midst of it all through 21 poems.

Aug 16, 2021

Camelot's descendants

Cover of Legendborn
A review of Legendborn by Tracy Deonn

After Bree's mother is killed in an accident, the sixteen-year-old escapes the grief engulfing her home life by joining a program for scholarly high schoolers at UNC - Chapel Hill. While there, she stumbles into a complex world of magic and Arthurian legend that quickly takes over her life. But this is no simple re-telling of King Arthur's round table -- this story goes to much deeper and more interesting places than you might expect.

May 12, 2021

A Very Punny Graphic Chapter Book

Cover of All Paws on Deck
A review of All Paws on Deck by Jessica Young

Haggis (a Scottish Terrier) and Tank (a Great Dane) are two very imaginative doggy friends.  They spend most of their time in a back yard, but sometimes they go on adventures in their minds.  In “All Paws on Deck” Tank decides to deck out their little red wagon as a pirate ship.  They sail off into a land of make-believe and have many adventures together!  The format for this book falls right between graphic novel (there are lots of full-color illustrations with speech bubbles) and chapter book (there are also blocks of text, though never more than a quarter of the space on a page is filled

Oct 30, 2020

Korean Heroine explores the Universe

Cover of Dragon Pearl
A review of Dragon Pearl by Yoon Ha Lee

Dragon Pearl by Korean-American author, Yoon Ha Lee stars a plucky 13-year old fox spirit named Min.  She usually appears as a human girl, but she can transform herself into pretty much anything and has the ability to throw Charm at others to nudge them and their moods in the direction she's hoping for.  She also happens to be a master mechanic willing to go to the ends of the universe to find out what happened to her beloved older brother who disappeared during his Space Forces training tour.

Aug 1, 2019

A child’s celebration of a Muslim tradition

Cover of Mommy’s Khimar
A review of Mommy’s Khimar by Jamilah Thompkins-Bigelow

A young girl revels in the many khimars (also sometimes called hijabs) in her mother’s closet. She loves the colors, the fancy decorations, and all of the possibilities for play.  She dresses up in a yellow khimar and imagines herself a queen, a bird and a superhero! She loves the cozy comfort of the smells of her mother lingering in the khimar. In clear, simple language, this "own voices" book shares one aspect of the everyday life of a Muslim family. Whether your family is Muslim or has never heard the word “khimar” this book is a perfect bedtime read.


Mar 28, 2019

Sweet Tunes for Tweens

Cover art
A review of Every Voice by Kira Willey

Got a tween fan of folksy pop music, but maybe you’re not quite yet ready for them to dive into some of the mature themes of many of the songs on the radio today?  Check out Every Voice by Kira Willey.  Full of catchy music and empowering lyrics, this album settles comfortably in that sweet spot between Laurie Berkner (who makes a cameo on this album, actually) and Taylor Swift, with a hint of mindfulness for balance.

Jan 4, 2019