YA – Follow Your Arrow

Verdi, Jessica. Follow Your Arrow. Scholastic Press, 2021. 978-1-338-64046-5. $18.99. 308 p. Grades 9 and up.

Life seems perfect for Cece Ross. She’s only a junior in high school, but she’s a successful social media influencer with several sponsorships. She and her girlfriend, Sylvie (also a social media influencer), have been together for two and a half years; sure, they bicker sometimes, but that’s normal when you’re in a relationship that long, right? Apparently Sylvie doesn’t agree; out of nowhere, after they finish a live stream unboxing video together, Sylvie breaks up with her. Not only is this devastating as Sylvie is her first love, Cece also wonders how this will affect their commitment to speak as the Grand Marshals of the upcoming Cincinnati Pride parade in just a couple months. She’s also not used to doing the whole social media thing without Sylvie, and Cece constantly worries about how she is being perceived through the app. Not long after the break-up, Cece meets Josh, a sweet and friendly violin player who avoids social media entirely. Cece has always known she’s bisexual, and Josh definitely has boyfriend potential, but he doesn’t realize who Cece is or how famous she is. Josh has expressed disdain for social media influencers though, so she decides it’s best to keep him out of the loop for now. But how long can she keep this secret from Josh as he becomes more than just a friend and social media gossip starts running rampant?

THOUGHTS: This is a mostly light-hearted and fun romance, but it also tackles some important topics we cover in schools: bullying, homophobia, digital citizenship, and pressures of living life online, and most importantly, biphobia. Cece deals with a lot of the latter in the final third of the book as her relationship with Josh becomes public. A Junior Library Guild selection, this book is great addition to YA collections to expand bisexual representation.

Realistic Fiction         Sarah Strouse, Nazareth Area SD

Elem. – The Rock from the Sky

Klassen, Jon. The Rock from the Sky. Candlewick Press, 2021. 978-1-536-21562-5. Unpaged. $18.00. Grades PreK-3.

Told through five chapters (“The Rock,” “The Fall,”  “The Future,” “The Sunset,” and “No More Room”), Jon Klassan’s newest picture book, The Rock from the Sky uses humor to explore friendship, pride, jealousy, and the future. Turtle loves standing in his favorite spot. When Armadillo comes to see what Turtle is doing, he feels uneasy about Turtle’s favorite spot, so he decides to stand in a different spot. Since his spot is further away, Turtle and Armadillo cannot hear each other, so Turtle moves closer, and just in time. A giant rock falls from the sky right on Turtle’s spot. As Turtle explores the rock, he falls, but he is too full of pride to let Armadillo know that he fell or he needs help, so Armadillo takes a nap in the shade of the rock, while Turtle remains stuck on his back. Back on the rock, Armadillo dreams about the future, but Turtle isn’t so sure he likes Armadillo’s thoughts. At night, Armadillo and Snake watch the sunset under the rock. Turtle comes to see what they are up to, but he is too far away to be heard. As he moves closer to be heard, Turtle blocks the sunset for Armadillo and Snake. Finally, Turtle sees Armadillo and Snake napping under the rock, and with room for only two, Turtle feels left out. As he tries to make Armadillo and Snake feel bad, he gets closer to them so that he can be heard, and just in time because ANOTHER rock falls from the sky on the spot where Turtle had been!

THOUGHTS: Jon Klassan once again uses easy to follow dialogue, dry humor, and simple watercolor illustrations to bring to life a universal story of friendship, pride, jealousy, and dreams through the comedy of falling rocks from the sky. His pictures depict the story of Turtle and Armadillo and both stand alone and support the basic dialogue of these two friends. Readers need to not only read (or hear) the dialogue, but must also follow along with the illustrations to understand the story. I had to view the illustrations multiple times to understand some of the humor (classic Jon Klassen; a book for both kids and adults).  This is a must have where Klassan books are popular.

Picture Book            Erin Bechdel, Beaver Area SD