Halloweensie YA Book Recommendation – The Adventures of Mary Shelley’s Great-Great-GReat-Great-Granddaughter

Title: The Adventures of Mary Shelley’s Great-Great-GReat-Great-Granddaughter

Author: Brea Grant

 Illustrator: Yishan Li

Publisher: Six-foot Press. 2020

Ages: 12+

Genre: graphic novel

Themes: writing, authors, famous authors, family, monsters, humor, gothic, Mary Shelley,



Everyone expects sixteen-year-old Mary to be a great writer. After all, her mother, her aunt, and her grandmother are all successful writers (as they constantly remind her)?not to mention her famous namesake, the OG Mary Shelley, horror author extraordinaire. But Mary is pretty sure she’s not cut out for that life. She can’t even stay awake in class! Then one dark and rainy night, she’s confronted with a whole new destiny. Mary has the ability to heal monsters… and they’re not going to leave her alone until she does.

With the help of a mysterious (and mysteriously cute) stranger, a Harpy, a possessed stuffed bunny, and her BFF Rhonda, Mary must uncover her family’s darkest secret if she’s going to save the monster world… and herself. (publisher)

Why I like this book:

This is a quirky, creepy, fun coming-of-age story with amazingly rich art panels full of gags on every page. It is a cool gateway for tweens/teens into gothic horror (with a humorous twist) and the classics. I could imagine teens wanting to read more about Frankenstein or Mary Shelley after this.

The novel is a fun twist on Mary Shelley’s literary legacy. Her descendants are successful female writers who also possess the gift to heal real, live monsters. Our protagonist Mary is an angsty contemporary teen not interested in following in the family authorial traditions. She learns of her inherited gift after a dissection lab results in Frankenfrog. At first she doesn’t want to get involved with the monsters who want her help, but she wants to do the right thing.

It is an adrenaline-pumping spooky romp of a teen trying to define herself in light of the entrenched family legacy. It is dark and heart-warming at the same time, and a great Halloween read with family friction, friendship stress, passing bio…. It is bizarro but fully teen-relatable’ including the almost kiss with the crush. I love the diversity amongst the monsters, which include a harpy, a demon possessing backyard rodents, ghosts, a large egg, and more. 

If you have a teen who likes gothic, graphic novels, or is perhaps toying with the idea of reading classics but feels intimidated, this is a great doorway read, though it definitely will have a wide readership too.


If you loved especially all the Mary Shelley references, I highly recommend reading the illustrated novel, Mary’s Monster by Lita Judge.

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Louis – Perfect Picture Book Friday

Title: Louis

Author: Tom Lichtenheld

 Illustrator: Julie Rowan-Zoch

Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers, Oct. 2020

Ages: 3-5

32 pages. 

Genre: fiction

Themes: grumpiness, gratitude, love, teddy bear


From Day One…

things have gone downhill.

Louis the bear has had enough. From day one, life has been one indignity after another. If he’s not being used as a hankie, he’s being hung out to dry—literally. (No one likes clothespins used on their ears!) This teddy is sneaking away just as soon as he can. Then again, no use running off in the rain . . .or during a show-and-tell routine. Maybe Louis has something to lose, after all. (publisher)

Why I like this book:

I don’t know about kids, but I can so relate to Louis’ disgruntledness. Don’t we all have days and weeks where it feels like we are being taken a wee bit for granted, overlooked, loved too hard? Those moments when we decided we’re just going to quit, even though deep down we know how good we have it.

This is a funny, adorable, suspenseful ode to the love of a teddy for their person and a person for their teddy and all the wild tumultuous emotions that come into such love stories. The humor is the “get it?” and “wink wink” variety and will demand giggle and ahs. And the illustrations are bold and heartwarming, as Julie manages to portray a bear that is grumpy and utterly lovable at the same time.

I think small children will grab their bears and ask for rereads on this one as text and pictures so authentically allude to the bond between a bear and their child.


Ask children what their stuffy might be grumpy about.

Each week a group of bloggers reviews picture books we feel would make great educational reads. To help teachers, caregivers and parents, we have included resources and/or activities with each of our reviews. A complete list of the thousands of books we have reviewed can be found sorted alphabetically and by topics, here on Susanna Leonard Hill’s website.

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The Black Friend – Book Recommendation

Title: The Black Friend-On Being a Better White Person

Author: Fredrick Joseph

 Publisher: Candlewick Press, December 2020

Ages: 14+

Themes: racism, BLM, white supremacy, racial justice, artists, activists, microagressions, cultural appropriation,

Genre: Nonfiction


Speaking directly to the reader, The Black Friend calls up race-related anecdotes from the author’s past, weaving in his thoughts on why they were hurtful and how he might handle things differently now. Each chapter includes the voice of at least one artist or activist, including Tarell Alvin McCraney, screenwriter of Moonlight; April Reign, creator of #OscarsSoWhite; Angie Thomas, author of The Hate U Give; and eleven others. Touching on everything from cultural appropriation to power dynamics, “reverse racism” to white privilege, microaggressions to the tragic results of overt racism, this book serves as conversation starter, tool kit, and invaluable window into the life of a former “token Black kid” who now presents himself as the friend many of us need. Back matter includes an encyclopedia of racism, providing details on relevant historical events, terminology, and more. (publisher)


“We don’t see color.”

I didn’t know Black people liked Star Wars!”

“What hood are you from?”

Why I like this book:

I think that The Black Friend by Frederick Joseph is going to help a lot of white people, like me, grow into the the type of person that the world needs us to be. This feels like a book that should be on all our school library shelves, empowering educators and students alike.

It’s written in a super style of sharing all the lessons he has learned as a black boy and man in this nation and all these anecdotes, woven into the conversations he has with amazing people like Angie Thomas, Jesse Daniels, Africa Miranda etc. He’s super honest about how he hid and buried so many opportunities to confront the micro and macro aggressions he experienced when younger and how he grew in courage and empowerment to confront stuff as he grew older. From cultural appropriation to overt racism.

Prepare to be challenged and see yourself in many of the white examples here. He ends it powerfully by distinguishing between being an accomplice and an ally. So much to unpack there. An ally is not enough. This is a book I want to get into the hands of everyone in my school. There are some great books coming out right now, fiction and nonfiction, helping expose the systematic racism in the US, but if I had to recommend a place to start conversations with your teens, I think it would be here with this book.

Highly recommended, and thank you to the publisher for my review ARC.


The book includes at the back: an encyclopedia of racism, suggested books to read and films to watch, people to know more about and the Black Friend Playlist.

Posted in Black history Month, Book recommendation, nonfiction | Tagged | 1 Comment