I really love good old-fashioned kid lit! There are more fantasy and high drama books for kids now, and I’m glad more books are respectful of children as intelligent readers with life experience, and able to handle mature topics. But it’s so refreshing to read a chapter book where the MC is just that– a second or third grader navigating elementary school.
Kevin Henkes is really a pro at this because his novels are all realistic and very quiet. #quietMG ? A classmate’s death lurks in the background of Olive’s Ocean, but it isn’t a mystery and it’s more about how Olive is going through an uncertain time in her life. In fact, all three of the novels, Junonia, The Year of Billy Miller, and Olive’s Ocean are about a time when the kid is going through a lot of changes, even if they might be subtle. Billy is just adorable. The little illustrations!!!!!! I like how the book is divided into four parts for Mom, Dad, Teacher, and Sister. The bat diorama is super cute. Love Billy <3. There is actually something dark about Olive and Junonia because there is a hint of betrayal and the girl starting to see that the world isn’t what it seems. That is everything on the cusp of of becoming a teen. The world no longer feels trustworthy. I’m reading everything written by Kevin Henkes.
I LOVED Patti Kim’s I’m OK. Instant favorite for me. OK Lee is everything to me. He comes up with a business plan to braid hair to get money. He enters a talent show to win $100. He camps out on his own in a vacant house that his dad had wanted. He is just the best and Patti Kim’s writing is laugh-out-loud funny in some parts. I recommend everyone to read I’m OK because it captures what it means to be an Asian boy in today’s elementary school pretty well. School is cruel, kids are mean and a mess, and life is hard. Does ANYTHING change??! All my life I am OK. Good to know I’m not alone.
Lastly, I’ve always been a fan of chapter/early reader books with girls and their shenanigans. My Happy Life is just that! Dani is happy even though her life goes off the rails, with a mom who passes away from sickness and a best friend who moves away. But she is happy and I continued reading the other books!
BONUS: These books match perfectly with the bow meals I was having:
Kidlit rules because it’s realistic.
Kidlit rules because it’s funny.
Kidlit rules because it speaks to kids and adults.
Kidlit rules because it’s hopeful.
Kidlit rules because children deserve a refuge.
I loved all of these books.