Ways To Make Sunshine

Bloomsbury. Apr. 2020. 192p. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9781547600564.
Gr 3-5–In this first installment in a contemporary realistic African American middle grade series, Ryan Hart’s family must relocate to another part of Portland, OR, because her dad isn’t making as much money as he once did. Ryan is young girl confident in her gifts; she especially loves to cook. She is also capable of standing up for herself, particularly when she is teased for having a name more commonly given to boys. And she has a lively imagination; Ryan collaborates with her friends on creative indoor activities when the Grand Floral Parade gets rained out and prepares for the school talent show. The theme of loving family and friends even through difficult times will resonate with readers. Cheerful black-and-white illustrations enhance the story and convey Ryan’s effervescent personality. Watson deftly weaves the faith of her characters into her work. From Easter speeches to African American hair care, this book will give those whose lives are like Ryan’s an opportunity to feel seen. For those whose lives are different, this book provides a clear window into a nuclear family dealing with familiar topics in a unique way.
VERDICT A solid addition to realistic middle grade fiction with warm, loving family relationships.

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