Book Review Tuesday

Lots of great books this week! Read the book reviews below, and learn more about my favorite reads:

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The Black Flamingo by Dean Atta (teen)
Gr. 9+. Michael has had questions about his identity since he was young. All he wants for his birthday is a Barbie, but his mom is sure a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle will work just as well. In beautiful verse, Michael shares his journey as he tackles questions about identity, toxic masculinity, gender, sexuality, and race. Finally at university (college), he discovers the Drag Society, and Michael feels like he might have finally found a space to be himself.

A wonderful book exploring and celebrating identity, Blackness, sexuality, and more. Highly recommend.


Dog Man: Mothering Heights by Dav Pilkey (graphic novel)
Gr. 2-4. The Dog Man book in which:

  • Dog Man wears a cone of shame,
  • Petey dresses up like Mister Rogers and does an interview on his life of crime and path to redemption,
  • at least three songs about diarrhea are sung with pride,
  • we interact with our very first smooch-o-rama,
  • sippy cups come to life, and
  • it gets pretty violent, making up for the “love not violence” plots of the last few books.

I didn’t like this one quite as much as the last book, but I continue to be a loyal Dog Man fan

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Fatima’s Great Outdoors by Ambreen Tariq
Gr. 1-3. Fatima is so excited for her family’s first camping trip. But she quickly learns that camping requires patience, just like school does. Building a tent and starting a fire take a bit more work than she and her Papa expect–and what about that scary, monstrous spider hanging out above their tent?!?

A lovely blend of a camping story with lots of details about Indian culture (and racism) throughout. A wonderful shoutout to Brown People Camping in the last spread.


Martian Ghost Centaur by Mat Heagerty (graphic novel)
Gr. 4-8. The Southborough Sasquatch used to draw tourists from all over the country, dreaming of spotting the mysterious cryptid. But the tourists have stopped coming, and Louie’s small town is close to drying up. Business isn’t what it used to be, and a tech company wants to turn Southborough into the home of its new headquarters. Louie’s dads aren’t ready to give up their restaurant, the Squatch Burger, quite yet, but money is tight. They may have to make a really tough decision soon.

Louie knows that she just needs to trap the Sasquatch. One of her dads got him on film when he was just a kid, and as a mega Squatch fan, she knows that she has the skills to catch the Sasquatch, get him on film, and bring tourism back to her town. But when she learns that the Sasquatch may not be quite as real as she first thought–and her dads were in on it–her heart is broken. Pile that on top of the fact that her best friend is leaving for college soon, and Louie is left trying to pick up the pieces of her life all while trying to figure out what her future holds.

This was so sweet! There needs to be more buzz about this graphic novel. Louie is adorable and the cryptid backdrop is appealing. There will be wide age appeal here–the cryptids will appeal to a younger audience and nothing here forces this to be a teen novel, but some of the larger life questions Louie is facing are definitely more teen oriented (she is 17 after all). I really appreciate the smaller messages woven throughout the book: the platonic friendship between Louie and Felix, the idea that college isn’t for everyone and that is okay, and even that your job does not have to be your passion. Great work.

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Our Skin: A First Conversation about Race by Megan Madison, Jessica Ralli, and Isabel Roxas (board book)
Toddler+. A book as much (maybe a little more) for caregivers as it is for kids. Children notice race and racism as toddlers and can distinguish skin color as babies. This book provides ways to start those conversations with your kids.

The first half works well as a board book that could be read to babies and toddlers with a lot of interactive questions. Further on, the book feels like it is perhaps meant for caregivers to read with preschoolers–the text gets a bit longer and talks about the history of racism (the illustrations also turn into examples of what appear to be elementary school students playing together).

The last few spreads contain really wonderful suggestions for continuing the conversation with toddlers, preschoolers, and older kids with great examples of ways to start and continue conversations and actively participate in anti-racist efforts. Looking forward to the rest of this series!


The Scrumptious Life of Azaleah Lane by Nikki Shannon Smith (first chapter)
Gr. 2-4. Azaleah and her sisters are thrilled to spend the weekend with their Auntie Sam while their parents are at a Food Truck Festival. They always have a great time with Auntie Sam, but this time Azaleah wants to plan something special for her parents: welcome back cookies! Azaleah convinces Auntie Sam to help them bake the cookies, but the cookies turn out all wrong. She knows she followed each step in the recipe correctly–why do the cookies taste so bad? Azaleah is determined to solve the mystery, but even after she figures out one problem, she discovers another isn’t far behind.

Lots of fun! This one didn’t feel like a “mystery” in quite the same way as the first two books in the series, but following Azaleah’s adventures and getting to know her sisters is still a joy. This is a standout first chapter book series that I will continue to keep passing along to lots of readers. More please!

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