Mimi and the Cutie Catastrophe – Children’s Graphic Novel Review

ABOUT

Talented illustrator and author Shauna J. Grant, of http://www.shaunadraws.com/ introduces young readers to Mimi, a fun, fantastic little girl with a very big problem: everything thinks she’s just too cute!

Mimi wants others to see the other things about her, that make her special, and with the help of her magical toy dog Penelope, she does everything she can to try and change their minds…

Will she be stuck in this cute-astrope forever, or will others see her for who she truly is?

But that’s not all! She’s also a loyal friend and fun playmate, who has the best adventures with

THOUGHTS

Thank you Scholastic for providing this ARC.
I absolutely loved the illustrations for this book! When I saw the cover, I was immediately reminded of Pretty Cure, which was one of my favourite series as a kid.
The story itself was wonderful, especially since Mimi is super relatable. I can recall when I wondered whether being considered “cute” was a bad thing, and tried to make myself seem more “cool” like my older cousins and friends…even though I absolutely adored my stuffed animals and other cute things.
I think that exploring the thoughts and emotions that Mimi faces in this graphic novel, is an excellent way for young readers who are most likely facing similar situations, to try and understand what they’re going through.

I know I would’ve loved having a character like Mimi when I was growing up, especially since many of the books and films I grew up on weren’t much in favour of the cutesy aesthetic, and leaned more towards encouraging young children to be strong, as if those two things couldn’t go hand in hand. Here, Mimi proves the opposite, that you can still love what you love, and be loyal, strong, and brave! I think that’s a very important message for young children (and grownups too). We are more than what others perceive us as.

Another thing that I really want to mention is how precious Mimi’s friendship is with Penelope!

I had my very own Penelope growing up, who I used to take everywhere with me. To this day, I still have her.

Mimi shares her thoughts and feelings with Penelope, and even considers that in order to stop having others perceive her as cute or baby-ish she needs to stop playing with her favourite toy.

I can recall being teased about my stuffed animal by some kids in my class, and placing her in my trash bin (super dramatic I know), but then I felt lonely without her, and decided to rescue her. I didn’t care what the other kids thought about her anymore, because she was important to me. See, I used to be incredibly shy, and she helped me feel comfortable when I changed schools, or whenever I struggled to make friends. Just knowing she was close by in my backpack, was enough. She was…is…dear to me, and despite being a toy, really gave me an outlet to work through some complex emotions and situations as a child. I changed schools four times during our move between grades 3-4, and had to keep remaking friends, which at the time was extremely difficult for me. I wanted nothing more to go back to my old house and school, where my teachers all knew me and people actually pronounced my name properly haha.

Another thing that really got me was that Mimi has bubbles in her hair! As a kid, I absolutely adored these, and recently I found a doll with bubbles in her hair for my niece and went bonkers. Like, bubbles and beads were my favourite because it was like fashion for my hair…and until high school…and really more-so into my adult years, we weren’t really encouraged to experiment with our natural hair. It was always pulled back into a tight bun…but when I got to wear bubbles in my hair–I had these orange ones with teddy bears that had googly eyes–my mom would give me Pippi Longstocking braids…or that’s what I called them. It was my favourite thing in the world. Seeing Mimi with her hair like that on the cover made my day!

Mimi is such a sweet character, and I loved seeing how she grew throughout the story, and interacted with her friends, family and neighbours. I can’t wait to see what adventures she has going forward, and I look forward to seeing this book on shelves this July 2022!

RATING

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Perfect for ages 6-8!


Amethyst: Princess of Gemworld – Review

Summary

Amaya, princess of House Amethyst in Gemworld, is something of a troublemaker. She and her brother have great fun together until a magical prank goes much too far and her parents ground her…to Earth! They hope a whole week in the mundane world will teach her that magic is a privilege…and maybe washing dishes by hand will help her realize the palace servants should be respected.

Three years later, Amy has settled into middle school and ordinary life. She doesn’t remember any other home. So when a prince of the realm brings her home and restores her magical destiny, how will she cope? – Goodreads

Thoughts

This book was so much fun! I loved the character development, and fell in love with the story from the first panel. It was exciting, funny, and charming. All of the characters were likeable, and the friendships and dynamics between each of them was incredibly sweet.

The artwork by Asiah Fulmore is stunning, detailed and absolutely gorgeous. It immediately captured my attention, and I loved how much motion there was. The colour scheme was also beautiful, I liked the mixture of pastels, and bright warm tones in contrast to the colours on earth.

I think one of my favourite parts was whenever people from the Gem world would talk about what they believed Earth to be like. It was hilarious, and cute.

I’ve always liked the superhero/magical girl stories, and was thrilled to read this. I finished it in one sitting, and was entertained the entire time. Immediately after, I was recommending it to everyone.
This book is fantastic! I can’t wait to see what Shannon Hale puts out next!

Rating

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Five stars! This graphic novel was absolutely fantastic. I adored the story, and the artwork. Both complimented each other so well! I highly recommend this book. It’s definitely worth adding to your TBR for comic book fans young and old!

7 Good Reasons Not to Grow Up: Review

To his friends at Greycliff Academy, Kirby seems to have it all: charm, brains, and a lucky streak that won’t quit. He’s also the notorious hero creating the snarky videos “7 Good Reasons Not to Grow Up,” which expose just how dumb adults can be. Why would any kid want to become one of them? But there’s also a mystery about Kirby. And when his best friend, Raja, finds out his secret, Kirby, Raja, and their friends have to grow up fast and face the world head-on. – Goodreads

Thoughts

I definitely enjoyed this book, and would recommend it to older Middle Grade readers (around 12) to early teens. It was funny, and filled with charming illustrations. I also thought the characters were hilarious.
I found some parts of the story had a few plot holes, but I thought perhaps this was because there was a sequel? If this graphic novel does have a sequel I kind of wish the big reveal came then, versus in book one. Overall it was entertaining, and Kirby and the rest of the cast were really great. I’m hoping they will have more adventures.
One thing that I will note is that some of the language used in the book, might not fly with some folks, which is why I think it’d be more suitable for the older half of the 9-12 age group. For example, I wouldn’t let my niece read this right now, and she’s in grade 5. I don’t think the words were anything too major…sadly I can’t recall the ones that stood out to me, but still it did catch me off guard, since I haven’t come across “swear words” in a middle grade book for a very long time. I believe one of the words was turd, which isn’t a big deal, but there was another that I know wouldn’t fly with some parents/teachers, and I wanted to note that here just in case.
Based on the themes of the book, I think this would be a great for anyone in the 8th grade. I laughed a lot at the jokes, and had my heart strings tugged a bit here and there as well.

Rating

Rating: 4 out of 5.

I’m giving this book 4 stars because although I liked it, I feel like there was so much room for character development. I liked all of the characters, and the dynamic between them but at times they felt a little flat and certain plot points were glossed over. I still really liked the story though, and I think it has definite TV/book series potential! If there is a sequel in the works I’ll definitely check it out!

Cruella – Disney Manga Review

I bought this manga for my niece (she’s 9), because I wanted to find an age appropriate manga for her to read and she is a HUGE Disney fan.

Cruella: Black, White, and Red by Hachi Ishie has lovely illustrations, which gave off a mix of the 80s and 90s manga styles. I liked the way the panels were laid out, and how the characters were introduced. I also loved the artwork for each chapter.

I’d like to start off by saying the manga is not an adaptation of the film.

The manga has 3 chapters in total, each covering a part of Cruella’s life, mainly focusing on her between ages 18-21. I actually liked that the book didn’t age her down because it was directed at a middle grade audience.

Horace and Jasper were well developed throughout, but I thought the one character in the leather jacket, who is mentioned by Jasper in a later chapter would be more prominent than they were. It seemed as though this character was being built up to be a major player and then he kind of just disappeared, and then Emilia was introduced. This leads me to the pacing, which in the first chapter I felt was fairly well done, however because the book is set at different points during Estella/Cruella’s years before she becomes a designer, I felt like too much was being crammed into these short scenes.

It almost felt like a manga short story collection instead. I’m not sure if this is supposed to be a one off, or a short series, but regardless I enjoyed reading it and I know my niece will love it. I just felt like it needed a little more story wise, so I gave it a rating of 4 stars on Goodreads. I also took into consideration that this is meant for young readers, so it’s possible some of what I felt was lacking is because this is a reimagining of a reimagined character…and I had expected it to cover pieces of the movie.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Overall I thought the book was fun, and I would definitely recommend it to young Disney fans who are also looking into reading manga.

One other thing I will note is that this book reads the same as Western graphic novels, versus a Japanese manga, like the Maximum Ride series and most Western made manga.

Stepping Stones by Lucy Knisley

Summary

Jen is used to not getting what she wants. So suddenly moving to the country and getting new stepsisters shouldn’t be too much of a surprise.

Jen did not want to leave the city. She did not want to move to a farm with her mom and her mom’s new boyfriend, Walter. She did not want to leave her friends and her dad.

Most of all, Jen did not want to get new “sisters,” Andy and Reese.

If learning new chores on Peapod Farm wasn’t hard enough, then having to deal with perfect-at-everything Andy might be the last straw for Jen. Besides cleaning the chicken coop, trying to keep up with the customers at the local farmers’ market, and missing her old life, Jen has to deal with her own insecurities about this new family . . . and where she fits in. –Goodreads

Thoughts

Stepping Stones was such a wonderful book! The illustrations by Lucy Knisley were lovely and the story was paced perfectly. I loved the development of each of the characters and how Jen navigated and adjusted to life on Peapod Farm.
From the moment I started reading I was already recommending this book to friends. It was excellent. Definitely one my top 10 middle grade graphic novels I’ve read this year.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

YA Faves

As YA week comes to a close, I’ve found myself reminiscing over some of my old favourite books that I read during my teenage years. […]

YA Faves

As YA week comes to a close, I’ve found myself reminiscing over some of my old favourite books that I read during my teenage years. Although I still read YA, there are certain books that just stayed with me over the years, ones that I often return too.

The Outsiders and That Was Then, This is Now by S.E Hinton.

S.E Hinton is still one of my favourite YA authors. I actually own an anniversary copy of The Outsiders, and adored the book so much as a kid that I nicknamed one of my own character’s Ponyboy. If you’ve read Vermin, you’ll also notice one of my character’s is named Kurtis, with a K. Ponyboy Curtis. Although the character’s have nothing in common, I couldn’t help it. I’d also be lying if I said that Kurtis was the only character in my work over the years to be named after a favourite character of mine.

Sometimes I also shout, “Do it for Johnny!” when I need to motivate myself to finish chores. Adulting, am I right?

House of the Scorpion by Nancy Farmer.

This book was so good! Honestly, Mateo was one of my favourite characters of all time. I really wish Netflix or somebody would adapt this series into a show because trust me, it would be absolutely fantastic. I highly, highly recommend if you’re into sci-fi, thrillers and crime stories.

Dawn of the Arcana by Rei Toma.

This manga is one that you have to read twice, because once you reach the end there’s this HUGE reveal…and that is all I will say about that. You should read. It’s really good. I’m surprised not that many people have heard about it. I loved Rei Toma’s work so much, that I do have a character named after them in one of my stories that I wrote in high school.

Confessions from the Principals Chair.

I honestly can’t recall how many times I’ve read this book since I got it in the 7th grade. I read it over and over and over again. I just really enjoyed the characters. I’m curious though, if this book is actually middle grade? Probably, but I reread it all the time in high school and university.

Great Expectations by Charles Dickens.

I know that this isn’t technically YA either, but I read a lot of Charles Dickens and classic literature while I was in high school and I absolutely adored all of it. These were books that I’d chosen myself, and although my Nana isn’t a big fan of Dickens (she prefers thrillers/mysteries and romances), her and my granddad got me Oliver Twist, and then let me keep my uncles copy of Great Expectation’s which I read the summer before starting university. Of course the one of the first books I was assigned was Great Expectation’s, and I chose to do my midterm paper on it. I also read A Tale of Two Cities in the twelfth grade, and again absolutely adored it. The only Dickens works that I’ve seen adapted into film however are Oliver Twist, and A Christmas Carol. Funny enough, I don’t own a copy of A Christmas Carol, but I’d very much like to.

Dengeki Daisy by Kyousuke Motomi.

This series is still one of my favourites. I recently recommended it to a few friends at work. It’s really good. It’s got mystery, romance, action, humour and suspense. Everything you want in a shojo manga directed at teen girls. In all seriousness though, this was and still is one of my top series. I cannot stress enough how much fun it was to read. I believe this was also one of the first series that I collected in entirety. Before I would borrow one or two from the library, but this series I borrowed the first 5 from the library bought the rest, and then years later bought book 1-5 to complete the set. Totally worth the money.

Two Steps Forward by Rachel Cohn

As a teenager, I think I read just about every book I could find by Rachel Cohn. Two Steps Forward was my favourite of all of them, possible because it was the first I read, not realizing it was the sequel to her book The Steps. I just loved the characters.

Naomi and Eli’s No Kiss List by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan

Speaking of Rachel Cohn, if you loved the Dash and Lily series, you have to read Naomi and Ely’s No Kiss List. There are scene from this book that still resonate with me to this day. Rachel Cohn and David Levithan are such a powerhouse. I’d love it if they wrote another book together!

Happy Face by Stephen Emond

I wish more people knew about this book. I believe I read it back in the 9th grade, and it absolutely broke my heart. The emotional rollercoaster was 100% worth it.


Liked this post? Why not explore one of these from my blog.

If you’re looking for a new YA book to add to your own list, feel free to check out my debut novel Vermin.

My Fave Childhood Summer Reads (9-12 readers)

Back when I was a member of the 9-12 readers age group, I had was going through books like crazy, especially during summer vacation. So I thought I’d share some of my favourite summer reads from back in the day.

Camp Confidential

I was obsessed with this series when I was a sixth grader. I borrowed them from the library, all of the time and managed to get two copies of my own one summer before going on a road trip to my uncle and aunts place. I never went to camp as a kid, so this series helped me imagine what it might be like. As an adult I worked as a camp counsellor at a day camp and had a blast! I believe people can still find the earlier books in this series in print. I always loved the cameo print covers.

I Want to Go Home

I still go back to this book and read it. It’s hilarious! I got this book from my teacher in the fourth grade. It was my introduction to Gordon Korman books. When my family and I went camping I made sure to bring a copy of one of his books to read before bed. This book just got a cover update an is definitely worth adding to a summer reading list!

Smiles to Go

“I feel like I’m playing chess underwater. The pieces keep floating away. I don’t know where things are. I can’t figure out tomorrow.”

I adore this book and wish I owned it. I’ll have to get a copy for myself someday. It’s definitely underrated in terms of Spinelli’s other work. This novel falls in a weird place between middle grade and young adult…but I definitely would recommend it to older tween readers. It’s such a good story.

The saddle club

I loved this series…and for some reason I believe it was also made into a TV show? My favourite character was Stevie. I thought she had a cool name. I wouldn’t say I was ever a “horse girl” growing up, but one of my older cousins road horses and I always thought her horses were beautiful. I think that’s what got me into these books, was being able to pet and feed the horses on my uncle’s farm.

The Babysitters Club

This series doesn’t need an introduction. Who doesn’t love The Babysitters Club? I wanted to join! It was the reason why I got my babysitting license and ended up becoming a babysitter all through high school to one of the coolest little kids I have ever met!

The Babysitters Club taught me so much about life, friendship and just…having fun! I reread the comic versions with my niece and am so happy she loves the series as much as I do. I have to watch the show on Netflix!

I loved the movies growing up, plus when I saw Claudia’s outfits I almost lost it. They’re so perfect!

Princess School

This series is no longer in print which makes me so sad. These books were fantastic and would fit in so well with the current fairytale retelling trend that’s happening right now!

I read these books in the fourth grade and still own the entire series. I believe it was the first series that I picked out for my self, and the first time I asked for books as a Christmas gift from Santa (although I always got books for Christmas from my grandparents and uncle).

I highly recommend this series if you’re able to find a copy. I hope it comes back into print one day.

Shadow Children

I just got my niece into this series because she thought it had something to do with the game Among Us. When she started reading it with me, she was both surprised and intrigued. I read this series between grades six and eight and absolutely adored it till the end. I was a bit worried that my niece might be too young for the content in the book, but as we read together it was clear that the book was perfectly fine for a soon to be fifth grader, and it looks like this might be a new favourite of hers!

Happy 1st Blogiversary!

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