Tag Archives: Holm (illustrator)

Swing It, Sunny Review

swing_it_sunnySwing It, Sunny by Jennifer L. Holm, illustrated by Matthew Holm, colors by Lark Pien

Graphix, 2017. 978-0545741729

Synopsis: Summer’s over and it’s time for Sunny Lewin to enter the strange and unfriendly hallways of . . . middle school. When her Gramps calls her from Florida to ask how she’s doing, she always tells him she’s fine. But the truth? Sunny is NOT having the best time.from Amzon.com

Why I picked it up: I absolutely loved Sunny Side Up!

Why I finished it: Sunny is still struggling to adjust to her life without her older brother Dale, who is attending a boarding school for troubled youths. He is home for holidays, but things just aren’t the same. He’s angry and dismissive of Sunny, who just wants to be able to talk with her brother the way she used to. We haven’t all been in Sunny’s shoes, but we certainly know how painful it is to adjust when a family member moves out or when people we love change in ways that don’t seem like they are for the better. I found the advice that Gramps gives Sunny about just loving her brother and being able to give him space to figure things out to be particularly poignant. We can’t predict or control the changes that happen in our lives, but we can find healthy ways to move through the changes so that we are also learning and growing into the best people we can be. Pien’s colors really bring Sunny’s world to life, giving us a sort of flash back to what it was like to grow up in the late 70s. I liked the use of the spotlight to display a sort of reflectiveness in Sunny as she first is missing her older brother and then as the book goes on, how Sunny is striving to find ways to love her brother in spite of his anger at the family. The Holm siblings give the reader a sense that we can overcome life’s challenges and be able to run faster and fly farther than we could before. It gives us a positive message that even though bad things happen, we don’t have to let the break us.

Other related materials: Sunny Side Up by Jennifer L. Holm and Matthew Holm, colors by Lark Pien; Babymouse series by Jennifer L. Holm and Matthew Holm; The Fourteenth Goldfish by Jennifer L. Holm; Smile by Raina Telgemeier; Sisters by Raina Telgemeier; Drama by Raina Telgemeier; The Baby-Sitters Club books by Ann M. Martin; illustrated by Raina Telgemeier; Roller Girl by Victoria Jamieson; All’s Faire in Middle School by Victoria Jamieson; Invisible Emmie by Terri Libenson; El Deafo by Cece Bell; Fish in a Tree by Lynda Mullaly Hunt; Phoebe and Her Unicorn series by Dana Simpson; Space Dumplins by Craig Thompson; Lumberjanes by Noelle Stevenson; Big Nate books by Lincoln Peirce

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A Very Babymouse Christmas Review

a_very_babymouse_christmasA Very Babymouse Christmas (Babymouse #15) by Jennifer L. Holm and Matthew Holm

Random House Books for Young Readers, 2011. 978-0375867798

Synopsis: The holidays are here and everyone’s enjoying their favorite traditions—eating latkes, decorating for Kwanza, singing holiday songs, and most of all, being with family. Well, everyone except Babymouse. Babymouse only has one thing on her mind—PRESENTS!!! And whether she has to face down the ghosts of mean girls past or outsmart Santa himself, she’ll do whatever it takes to make sure she gets the present she wants. Will Babymouse find a whiz-bang under the tree? Will she learn the true meaning of the holidays? And what do you get for a narrator, anyway? – from Amazon.com

Why I picked it up: This series is pretty popular and it came highly recommended by my librarian colleagues and my second cousins.

Why I finished it: This series is fun and funny, so I can totally understand the reader appeal. Yeah, I’m a little late to the game having only started reading the Holms’ work this last summer, but the sibling duo has definitely tapped into the mind of the reader and won their hearts. Christmas puns abound in this installment, beginning with a nod to ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas. Readers will laugh out loud at Babymouse’s somewhat over-the-top antics in pursuit of the perfect Christmas gift – to receive, not to give. I love the multi-cultural cast of characters made up of a host of different animals – plus, I found it appropriate that the mean girls are cats. Despite the cover, the book is quite pink, which contributes to Babymouse’s personality. The art is fun and whimsical, befitting our day-dreaming heroine and it’s simple. I write that, and it has a sort of negative connotation, but it would seem the Holm siblings are relying on the characters and the plot to fuel the story along. Rather than an intricate page with details galore, it’s easier to follow with minimalist backgrounds and the three color scheme – an important factor in encouraging reluctant readers. Babymouse is full of humor and wit that will appeal to readers of all ages and remind us that there is more to the holidays than just the presents.

Other related materials: Babymouse series by Jennifer L. Holm and Matthew Holm; Squish series by Jennifer L. Holm and Matthew Holm; Sunny Side Up by Jennifer L. Holm and Matthew Holm; Lunch Lady books by Jarrett J. Krosoczka; Dragonbreath series by Ursula Vernon; Hamster Princess books by Ursula Vernon; Diary of a Wimpy Kid series by Jeff Kinney; Dork Diaries series by Rachel Renèe Russell; The Princess in Black books by Shannon Hale and Dean Hale; Phoebe and Her Unicorn books by Dana Simpson; Cleopatra in Space series by Mike Maihack; Amulet series by Kazu Kibuishi; Zita the Spacegirl series by Ben Hatke

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Sunny Side Up Review

sunny_side_upSunny Side Up by Jennifer L. Holm and Matthew Holm

Graphix, 2015. 978-0545741668

Synopsis: Sunny is sure this is going to be the best summer ever and she’s super psyched to be taking a beach trip with her friend Deb. But instead of a fun trip, her parents send her to Florida to spend a month with her Grandfather. Which would be fine…if he didn’t live in a retirement community…full of other old people…and it’s not even near Disney World. Plus she’s pretty sure this has something to do with her older brother, Dale, and that incident on the Fourth of July…which wasn’t her fault, right?

Why I picked it up: Holm’s books are super popular with tween girls and they have come highly recommended by a number of classmates.

Why I finished it: The subject matter in this book was somewhat unexpected, but it deals with a very real issue that affects families across the country. I only know of a handful of books for this age group that address substance abuse, and the message that comes across in Holm’s story is that it is important to speak up when you feel lost and confused. It’s difficult for families to talk about such heavy topics, but (if you’ll excuse the phrase), the struggle is very real. Sunny struggles with having to keep certain things that she sees a secret from her parents while the reader can assume that her parents are also struggling with trying to find help and how to talk to Sunny about what is going on. We see Sunny trying to make the best of the situation, most notably in a dinner scene in which she breaks the tension by talking about a school project. But what’s most important is the gradual understanding of the situation that makes Sunny more able to address her feelings about it. The narrative skips back and forth between Sunny’s time with her grandfather and the months leading up to her somewhat impromptu vacation, slowly setting the stage for the reader as we, like Sunny, come to terms with the situation and the realization that no one is at fault. This semi-autobiographical book is a poignant look at a girl who wants to be there for her family but doesn’t know how, and carries the message that it’s okay to ask for help. For some more resources on substance abuse, check out drugfree.org and the Substance Abuse Resources for Families website.

Other related materials: Babymouse series by Jennifer L. Holm and Matthew Holm; The Fourteenth Goldfish by Jennifer L. Holm; Smile by Raina Telgemeier; Sisters by Raina Telgemeier; Drama by Raina Telgemeier; The Baby-Sitters Club books by Ann M. Martin; illustrated by Raina Telgemeier; Roller Girl by Victoria Jamieson; El Deafo by Cece Bell; Fish in a Tree by Lynda Mullaly Hunt; Phoebe and Her Unicorn by Dana Simpson; Unicorn on a Roll: Another Phoebe and Her Unicorn Adventure by Dana Simpson; Space Dumplins by Craig Thompson; Lumberjanes by Noelle Stevenson; Big Nate books by Lincoln Peirce

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