Book review: Roll with It, by Jamie Sumner

Sumner, Jamie. Roll With It. Atheneum Books for Young Readers, 2019. $17.99. ISBN 9781534442559. 250 pages. Ages 10+. P7 Q8.

Ellie is not only the new student; she is in a wheelchair and lives in a trailer park. When Ellie and her mom move to a new town to take care of her grandpa, she has to figure out how to maneuver around classrooms that are not set up for students in a wheelchair. Fortunately, Coralee, her new neighbor in the trailer park, befriends Ellie and becomes her first true friend. While Ellie engages in many of the same activities as other children, she shares her struggles with using the school bathroom, not wanting an aide to follow her around, and the awkwardness of people staring at her. Meanwhile, Ellie’s grandpa gets confused and puts himself in danger at times. Ellie’s mom wants to put him in a home for elderly people, but this makes Ellie fear that maybe her mom will put her in a home someday. Ellie’s favorite show is the Great British Bake Off and Ellie loves to cook, which may add familiarity for readers who enjoy the show. Readers will gain insight on what it is like to live with challenges while being inspired by Ellie, who does not let her disability define her or limit her. Sumner’s son has cerebral palsy, which inspired her to write this book.

Verdict: The message that children who are confined to a wheelchair can have just as meaningful life as children who can walk comes through loud and clear. Readers can relate to the issues that Ellie has to deal with. I highly recommend this book for all libraries.

October 2019 review by Tami Harris.

Book review: The Lotterys Plus One, by Emma Donoghue, illustrated by Caroline Hadilaksono

Donoghue, Emma. The Lotterys Plus One. Illus. by Caroline Hadilaksono. Arthur A. Levine, 2017. 305p. $17.99. ISBN 978-0-545-92582-2. Ages 8-12. P6Q5

This family of eleven has almost every gender and issue—two lesbian moms, two gay dads, a developmentally-delayed toddler, a genderfluid four-year-old, a biracial Filipina-German, five other home-schooled children, and a variety of pets—in a 32-room Toronto mansion that was purchased with income from a lottery. Their relationship is disturbed when the Scottish father of one of the dads, a curmudgeonly bigoted man with early signs of dementia, moves in with him against his will, and Sumac not only has to give up her room for him but also make sure that he stays safe by being his personal guide.

Verdict: The family issues are universal, but the attempt to be clever, use wordplay, and stress the differences sometimes slows down the plot. Lotterys has all the ingredients of a good book by an author of quality adult books, but it still falls flat—sometimes slow almost wooden in places. Authors should keep to what they do best.

March 2017 review by Nel Ward.

Book review: The Dead I Know, by Scot Gardner

Gardner, Scot. The Dead I Know. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2015. $17.99. ISBN: 978-0-544-23274-7. Ages 16-up. P7Q8

Gardner Dead I KnowAaron Rowe is instantly a character you want to know more about. He is surrounded by mystery and darkness. This story takes place in Australia. He is a young man who sleepwalks and is being haunted by his past. He gets a job working as an apprentice at a funeral home. For being a darker book, this book does have a sense of humor anyone can appreciate. The author does a great job of portraying human emotion especially from a character who is dealing with a trauma he has never fully confronted. I honestly could not put the book down. It was very exciting to read something completely out of my normal genre preferences.

January 2016 review by Rachel Martin.