One of my goals for 2019 was to branch out and read both more adult-aged books and also more books for younger kids. I’ve been curious about middle grade for a while, and especially since becoming a librarian and working more with that age group, so that would be a very beneficial goal for me to achieve. Also, any time I read a book for younger kids, I end up feeling all warm and fuzzy, which I certainly enjoy.
So far this year, I’ve managed to read two MG books, both graphic novels, so I wanted to share my thoughts on them in this post.
OMG YOU GUYS THIS BOOK. So. Freaking. Cute. Okay, okay, before I gush about it, let me give you a quick rundown of what it’s about: THE TEA DRAGON SOCIETY is a graphic novel about a girl named Greta who’s learning to become a blacksmith, but gets caught up with two tea dragon caretakers and their ward, Minette, who was training to be a prophetess but lost her memories. Tea dragons are adorable winged creatures with tea names (We had Jasmine, Chamomile, and Ginseng) and you can make tea from the leaves that grow on their horns.
This book was an absolutely adorable story, and the art for it was absolutely BEAUTIFUL. Each page was truly enchanting and the story worked really well as a graphic novel, with different elements told through the images and words. It also had queer themes, which I haven’t seen much in the MG I’ve read so far and it was done so well and the couple was so cute and sweet. I also loved Greta’s friendship with Minette. It was so pure and soft and awkward. I thought the theme of not letting traditions die was an interesting one and well done in this story. Basically everything about it was so pretty and sweet and I adored it.
SUNNY SIDE UP is also a graphic novel, but is totally different from TEA DRAGON. This novel is set in 1976 and is about a girl who is sent to live with her grandpa for the summer when Something Mysterious happens with her brother that is revealed later on in the book. She’s stuck living at an old folks retirement village the whole summer, but meets another kid who introduces her to comics.
What I liked about this one was how sensitively it handled the subject of a family member having a drug problem. I think Jennifer Holm did a really good job of showing that Sunny’s brother had the problem but in a way that kids would process it. I also liked the friendship between Sunny and Buzz and all the pages that were about specific comics. I thought that was a cool way to bring in super heroes and introduce them to kids who read the book but might not be familiar with them. Sunny’s relationship with her grandfather was also sweet, and it definitely made me feel all warm and fuzzy to watch Sunny get to know the old people in the village.