Spoiler alert: No one with cancer dies in this story. They do play Uno, shave their head, get stabbed, make new friends, enjoy glitter, attend camp, get kissed (!), and above all else, discover they are brave enough to continue living life.
This sweet novel has all the elements of a great read - a plucky main character (Lucy, aka Lightning Girl - she was struck by lightning that made her a little OCD and a LOT brilliant at math), a secret (she doesn't want anyone at her new middle school to know she's Lightning Girl), new friend drama, understanding adults, and rescued dogs that need to be adopted.
Basically, this can be considered a contemporary retelling of The Paper Bag Princess, where the prince is the U.S. president's son, the princess is the son's former best friend and daughter of the president's former body guard, and the dragon is a Russian operative.
This makes a great addition to the canon of fantasy books featuring strong White women like the His Fair Assassins series by R.L. LaFevers, the Leigh Bardugo Wonder Woman: Warbringer, and the like. All of that said, I felt like this story didn't really add anything new to this genre.
Meet Princess Serena, aka Princess Pulverizer! She must complete 8 good deeds on a Quest of Kindness to become a Knight. Deed #1: Rescue jewels, a scared knight, and a gassy, cheese-eating dragon from a sleepy ogre. Silly, funny, and empowering. Ages 4+
Cinder meets The Gentleman's Guide to Vice and Virtue meets Pride & Prejudice and Zombies. A mixed-race young woman trained to kill zombies tries to keep herself and her friends alive while navigating the treacherous landscape of post-Reconstruction America.
The original Calpurnia Tate was a Newbery Award-winning novel. The new Calpurnia Tate is a series of beginning chapter books that is perfect for the young reader who loves animals.
This wonderful celebration of individuality is a book everyone needs to read, if only to be reminded that personal preference does not make someone a bad person, nor is it the end of the world to live up to your own unique personality.
For fans of Number the Stars, Letters from Rifka, and other WWII tween/YA reads, this provides a new perspective, telling two Holocaust stories we don't often hear - a secular Jew's confusion over both her treatment and, afterward, her religion, and the significance of music.
Once I'd thought up ten titles in this category - featuring in some way the Grim Reaper, Death itself, or death rituals - without breaking a sweat, it seemed too funny and frankly interesting to not share it.