Cici’s Journal

Cici dreams of being a novelist. Her favorite subject: people, especially adults. She’s been watching them and taking notes. Everybody has one special secret, Cici figures, and if you want to write about people, you need to understand what’s hiding inside them. But now she’s discovered something truly strange: an old man who disappears into the forest every Sunday with huge pots of paint in all sorts of colors. What is he up to? Why does he look so sad when he comes back? In a graphic novel interwoven with journal notes, scrapbook pieces, and doodles, Cici assembles clues about the odd and wonderful people she’s uncovered, even as she struggles to understand the mundane: her family and friends.

Under The Mesquite

Lupita, a budding actor and poet in a close-knit Mexican American immigrant family, comes of age as she struggles with adult responsibilities during her mother’s battle with cancer in this young adult novel in verse. When Lupita learns Mami has cancer, she is terrified by the possibility of losing her mother, the anchor of her close-knit family. Suddenly, being a high school student, starring in a play, and dealing with friends who don’t always understand, become less important than doing whatever she can to save Mami’s life. While her father cares for Mami at an out-of-town clinic, Lupita takes charge of her seven younger siblings. As Lupita struggles to keep the family afloat, she takes refuge in the shade of a mesquite tree, where she escapes the chaos at home to write. Forced to face her limitations in the midst of overwhelming changes and losses, Lupita rediscovers her voice and finds healing in the power of words. Told with honest emotion in evocative free verse, Lupita’s journey toward hope is captured in moments that are alternately warm and poignant. Under the Mesquite is an empowering story about testing family bonds and the strength of a young woman navigating pain and hardship with surprising resilience.

See the review at WOW Review, Volume IV, Issue 4

Chester

Chester is more than a picture book. It is a story told, and retold, by dueling author-illustrators. Melanie Watt starts out with the story of a mouse in a house. Then Melanie’s cat, Chester, sends the mouse packing and proceeds to cover the pages with rewrites from his red marker, and the gloves are off. Melanie and her mouse won’t take Chester’s antics lying down. And Chester is obviously a creative powerhouse with confidence to spare. Where will this war of the picture-book makers lead? Is it a one-way ticket to Chesterville, or will Melanie get her mouse production off the ground?

Take a closer look at Chester as examined in WOW Review.

Mable Riley: A Reliable Record of Humdrum, Peril, and Romance

It is 1901 and Mable Riley dreams of adventure and of becoming a writer. When her older sister leaves home to become a schoolmistress in the small town of Stratford, Ontario, Mable is sent along too. Mable hopes her new world will be full of peril and romance. But life at the Goodhand Farm (where the sisters board), is as humdrum as the one she’s left behind.Then Mable encounters the mysterious Mrs. Rattle, a peculiar widow with a taste for upsetting the townspeople with her strange opinions. Mrs. Rattle is a real writer, and Mable eagerly accepts her invitation to a meeting of the Ladies Reading Society. But the ladies are not discussing books at all, and Mable may soon have more peril than she’d bargained for!Composed of the letters Mable sends home, the poems she writes for her classmates, and chapters from her own work-in-progress, Mable Riley is the funny, inspiring, (and reliable) record of a young girl finding her voice, and the courage to make it heard.