Posted in Fiction, Realistic Fiction, Teen, Young Adult/New Adult

Cinnamon Girl: A Superheroine teens can get behind!

cinnamon girlThe Incredible Adventures of Cinnamon Girl, by Melissa Keil (April 2016, Peachtree Publishers), $17.95, ISBN: 9781561459056

Recommended for ages 13+

Alba is a teen who loves her life just the way it is. She and her mom live behind the bakery her mother runs in Eden Valley, a small, South Australian town. She loves Wonder Woman, comics and pop culture, and her close-knit group of friends, especially her best friend, Grady. Everything is pretty perfect – until it’s not.

First, a YouTube video from some wacko doomsday preacher goes viral. The problem? He claims that Eden Valley will be the one safe spot on the planet, which brings doomsday fanatics flooding into the Valley, setting up campsites on any available patch of land. Then, Daniel Gordon arrives on the scene: Alba and Grady’s childhood friend who went on to become a B-list heartthrob on a nighttime TV soap opera. He’s giving off signals that cause some confusing feelings for Alba, especially when Grady starts acting even weirder. Even Cinnamon Girl, Alba’s superheroine creation, is stumping her lately; she just can’t seem to find inspiration for Cinnamon’s continuing adventures. Can she get all of this worked out before the world ends?

I loved this book! There are fantastic comic book and pop culture references (Wonder Woman fans will be especially thrilled), and Alba is a great protagonist and teen role model. She’s body-positive, with an early conversation about her body and breasts that made me laugh out loud; she thinks she’s aware of who she is and her place in the world, until the outside world intrudes on the little bubble she’s created for herself and she finds herself faced with some big decisions.

This is an end of times story, but not necessarily the end of times you think it is. It’s a crossroads story, an end of childhood story, and for many people, entering adulthood and leaving high school behind can feel like it’s all coming to an end. I loved Alba’s narration and found it real; believable. Alba’s snarky narration is wonderful and refreshing, particularly when the world seems to be showing up on her doorstep and appear to have left their manners at home. The black and white comic art throughout the book made me really want to see a Cinnamon Girl comic book. Maybe we’ll get some further adventures of Alba, with prose and a graphic novel woven together to create a narrative a la I Am Princess X? Probably not, but that’s okay – The Incredible Adventures of Cinnamon Girl is a standout, standalone novel that Rainbow Rowell fans will devour. This book will also make a great graduation gift for the teens in your life; let them know that you know adulting is hard, but this book will help ease the transition.

Melissa Keil is an Australian author whose debut novel, Life in Outer Space, won the 2013 Ampersand Project (and which is now on my TBR). Cinnamon Girl has been shortlisted for the 2015 Children’s Book Council of Australia Book of the Year. Check out her author website for more info on her books!


Posted in Early Reader, Fiction, Preschool Reads

Little Red ain’t afraid of no wolf!

littleredLittle Red, by Betan Woollvin (Apr. 2016, Peachtree Publishers), $16.95, ISBN: 9781561459179

Recommended for ages 3-8

We all know the story by now – Little Red Riding Hood goes to visit her sick grandmother, meets the Big Bad Wolf, who forms a plan that has pretty dire circumstances for grandma, depending on which version you’re reading. Little Red gets a scare, huntsman saves the day.

But not this little girl. With this repeated phrase throughout the book, we know that this Little Red Riding Hood knows how to take care of herself just fine, thank you very much. Digital and gouache art come together with dramatic black, white, red, and grey to create bold lines perfect for storytime read-alouds. The twist ending will make fans of I Want My Hat Back smile and chuckle.

With a savvy heroine, a sense of humor, and great visuals, Little Red is a fun addition to the fractured fairy tales book collection. You do have one, don’t you? You may also want to add this to your Mighty Girl reading lists, the girls will love it.

Author and illustrator Beth Woollvin is the 2014 winner of the Macmillan Childrens Book Competition 2014. I’m looking forward to seeing more from her!