MMGM and #IMWAYR: Besties: Find Their Groove, One Cup at a Time, and more!

Hi everyone! I've got a couple of books to share with y'all today, so let's dive right in!

Finished in the past few weeks:

Besties: Find Their Groove

Written by Kayla Miller and Jeffrey Canino
Illustrated by Kristina Luu

· · ·   The publisher says:   · · ·

With their first formal school dance around the corner, Beth and Chanda are on a mission to make it the best night ever. Step one? Secure the perfect dresses so they can dominate the dance floor! But when neither of them can find an outfit that lives up to their high expectations—and when they encounter unexpected pressure to find dates—these besties will need to lean on their friendship more than ever if they hope to find their groove and bust a move!

New York Times bestselling author Kayla Miller and co-author Jeffrey Canino share a thoughtful and lively story about the challenges of finding your own personal style…and how it always helps to keep your favorite person at your side. Accompanied by Kristina Luu's dynamic, expressive art, this graphic novel is the perfect companion to Olive's stories.

· · · · · ·

For the most part, I had a blast reading this second graphic novel in the Besties duology, itself a spin-off of the delightful Click series by Kayla Miller!

Beth and Chanda are equal parts fashionistas, movers and shakers, and compassionate best friends, and their routine with Chanda as the slightly crazed over-planner and Beth as the slightly weary voice of reason pretty much never gets old.

And I loved seeing the nuanced MG-friendly drama packed into this book too. Beth and Chanda grapple with the pressure to find dates for a school dance, even though (a) the pressure might just be in their own heads and (b) there's the question of exactly how deep a connection you need with someone in order to ask them out.

The two girls also grapple with the age-old question of what to wear—which the authors put a unique spin on by using it to explore the idea of representation, as Beth (who is plus-size) and Chanda (who is Indian-American) struggle to find clothes that make them feel good just the way they are.

I'm also fond of the family relationships that get explored in this book—in particular, Beth's iconic older sister Lisa deserves her own YA spin-off graphic novel (not kidding).

One thing: I originally drafted a long review of this book that I ended up scrapping, which included a Big Rant™ regarding the LGBTQ+ representation in this book. I don't have the energy or wisdom to articulate my thoughts in a helpful or constructive way, but the one element I wanted to preserve from that rant is links to this article and this article, which describe some of the truly horrific policies school districts are implementing right now to harm transgender, nonbinary, and gender nonconforming students (including local versions of "bathroom bills," as well as book banning). Please take a few minutes to inform yourself about these issues, because unfortunately, they are no longer hypothetical.

One Cup at a Time

A Cat's Café Collection

Written and illustrated by Matt Tarpley
For most ages · Graphic novel · Add it on Goodreads · Preview the illustrations

· · ·   The publisher says:   · · ·

A follow-up collection based on the popular webcomic Cat's Cafe, One Cup at a Time immerses readers in the gentle, supportive world of cafe owner Cat and his adorable friends. With familiar faces like Penguin and Kiwi and new friends like Fox and Spider, this collection handles real issues like relationships, self-esteem, and mental health through a tender, positive lens. One Cup at a Time isn't about forgetting your problems; it's about supporting one another through those problems and loving each other and ourselves through it all.

· · · · · ·

Well, it's official...I freaking adore Cat's Café! This webcomic has been adapted into two collections, the first with the same name as the comic, and the second being the one I'm reviewing now, One Cup at a Time!

So if you're not sure what this is, allow me to enlighten you. Basically, picture adorable animals—well, you don't need to picture them, they're all on the cover.

Then imagine that they can talk—well, except for Kiwi, the small red bird holding the butcher knife (which will be explained—kind of).

Then imagine that they're all grappling with various challenges that impact their mental health or connection to others—we've got depression, anxiety, loneliness, hearing loss, ADHD, and more.

Then imagine that one animal—Cat, the smiling yellow cat (shocker) on the cover—has opened a café (here it is...) which serves as a space for these struggling animals to connect, support each other in wholesome and compassionate ways, and ultimately fit in.

And imagine that their adventures are captured in episodic single-page comics that, despite the realistic subject matter, are both endlessly amusing and so freaking adorable!

In short: how could you not want to read this?? As I said in my review of the first compilation, this book is pure dopamine and joy, and there's basically nothing you could read that will make you feel as good, and as seen, as this series. And this compilation brings back some of my personal favorite characters, like Rabbit (anxiety buds!), while also introducing delights like Spider, who is perpetually online and uses their Internet savvy to spread happiness to all.

Also, I do have to make note of one particular comic which, while definitely on the sadder side as far as the comics go, hit so hard for me—like, whoa. It's literally me. Here it is, if you want to see it.

I do recommend reading the first compilation first, because they're both equally good and the first one gives a little bit of backstory, but you totally won't be confused if you start with book two.

Cybils!

This year, I'm excited to be serving as a Round 2 Judge for Nonfiction in the Cybils Awards, a set of book awards run entirely by book bloggers!

As such, I'm making my way through 7 finalists for Elementary Nonfiction, 5 for Middle Grade Nonfiction, and 5 for High School Nonfiction.

I can't share my thoughts on any of these books until our winners are announced, but you can check out the list of finalists on the Cybils website for thoughts from the Round 1 Panelists.

Bookish thought:

We're one week away from the #LiveLikeABookChallenge! If you've missed the latest updates, in short, this is your chance to spend a weekend like you're inside a book—and who doesn't want that?

Tomorrow, I'm going to start organizing my own personal plans for the challenge (based on Goodbye Stranger, of course).

Meanwhile, I've opened the challenge hub, featuring the link round-up and Goodreads group for the challenge, in case you have advance plans you want to share or you simply can't complete the challenge on the scheduled dates.

You can learn more about the challenge and access the round-up on the challenge hub. I hope to see y'all participating in one week!

That's all, y'all! Thanks for visiting! ✨✨

Comments

  1. I hope you are enjoying your round 2 CYBILS reading. I have started the graphic novels and am really enjoying myself. I love that judging gets me to read books I wouldn't normally get to.

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  2. That's awesome that you are a CYBILS judge. Beasties find their groove sounds good.

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  3. Best of luck with round 2 judging, Max! Also looking forward to next weekend, hoping I will think of a book and a character this week so I can join in (my mind is very blank at the moment!) :)

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    1. Thank you, Valinora! And I think you'll be able to find a book that works for you—I believe in you! ;) I hope to see you in the challenge this weekend!

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  4. The Click series is such a popular and important series for MG students. I am with you with the book banning and what is happening for in states/school districts who are banning LBGQT+ It is so important for kids to see and feel good about themselves in books. It seems like so many of the books I review are eventually banned. For example, I reviewed two PBs "Something Happened in Our Town" and "Something Happened in Our Park" - both wonderful resources for parents dealing with gun violende in their communities. Banned. "The Hate U Give" was banned. I just don't understand. We need to educate kids about our rapidly changing world. (Don't want to rant either -- but I understand what you are feeling!)

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  5. The Besties first book was a little alarming because of how cavalier the girls were with the house they were watching. It bothered me, and it was never really dealt with satisfactorily. I'll have to take a look at the second one. I do appreciate your notes for the "graphic novel averse".

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  6. Thanks for the details for Besties, Max, & for the Cat's Club book. I don't remember the first one but with your praise, will look for both. Hope you have fun with that new challenge. It's not for me but it is certainly an intriguing idea!

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  7. Besties is another graphic novel that I need to check out. I know Click, but didn't know there is a spin-off series.

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  8. What a wealth of great stuff! I appreciate your links re: what's happening to trans and other kids at school. I didn't exactly fit in gender-wise at that age (heh, or most any age...) and remember well the misery that was trying to choose what to wear. I'll keep an eye out for this book, and appreciate the rec of both it and this adorable new-to-me web comic!

    I'm also intrigued by your live like a book challenge! My life is rather full at the moment but it sounds so fun that I know I'll try to figure out some way to participate. I also simply love that this exists and is a thing. :D

    Happy MMGM!
    www.suzannewarr.com

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    1. You're completely right that gender is so hard to fit into for so many kids—I know I've had similar experiences myself! And thank you for the kind words about the challenge—it is designed to be as low-stress as you want it to be, so feel free to join in whichever way works best for you! Thanks so much for stopping by, Suzanne!

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  9. Such great books to share on today's MMGM. I have the first book ready to enjoy when time allows and your excellent critique of ONE CUP AT A TIME has me adding it to my future read list. Thanks for the links to the rulings in Texas. So sad when young people have to endure decisions by those in charge that block access to books or rights.

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  10. Both of these books look wonderful. I remember you talking about these Besties books in your post about the most recent Click book. I'm glad to read this today since it reminded me to check for them at my library. I too am reading for the cybils these days - in the graphic novel category. Good Luck with your reading.

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  11. Maybe this will be the year I finally read the Besties series since I do love Kayla Miller's work. The book challenge next week looks fun.

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  12. I admire you for taking on the job of being a CYBILS judge. That's a lot. The books sound interesting, but I don't really read graphic novels. Thanks for your reviews though.

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  13. You are a very busy reader, reviewer AND judge. Two very different sorts of GN's.

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