Review by Booklist Review
No one gets Riley Mayes. She's got a goofy sense of humor, is more "dude-ish'' than girly, would rather draw than do almost anything else, and she's a huge fan of comedian Joy Powers. When her mother challenges her to find someone who does understand her, Riley connects with Cate, a girl just as imaginative as she is, and Aaron, the new kid, who thinks her jokes are funny. But there are some things that Riley doesn't get, like why Cate wants to stay friends with mean girl Whitney, who calls Riley a "lesbo"; how Aaron's two dads knew they were in love; and why, when people talk about having crushes, it sounds just like how she feels for Joy Powers. There is a lot going on in this story--finding real friends, first crushes, discovering gender identity--and all of it is handled tenderly and with respect for each of the main characters. Riley sounds like an exuberant fifth grader and the cartoon artwork portrays her and her friends that way, too. A fun, funny story that rings true.
From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.
Review by Publisher's Weekly Review
An aspiring artist grapples with gender-related expectations and burgeoning sexuality in Elliott's warm debut. Riley Mayes, who presents as white, thinks that fifth grade "isn't my kinda vibe": her school has laid off its art teacher, the classmate who found her funny has moved away, and the other kids seem to have "squaded-up." But following her mother's suggestion to find people who get her, Riley befriends new kid and comics enthusiast Aaron, who has two dads and is portrayed with brown skin, and cued-white cat fanatic Cate, who asks Riley to illustrate her original feline-focused story. As Riley works to earn local art lessons, maintaining her grades and avoiding notes home, a new hairstyle prompts a schoolmate to call her "lesbo," and she realizes that her fixation on a female comic is actually a crush. Elliott leans into Riley's anxieties around queerness: "If a person is gay... will they still have friends?" she wonders, even while encountering a positive model in Aaron's dads. In fine lines and citrus hues, Elliott renders a sunny external world that juxtaposes Riley's internal worries and confusion in a story of self-discovery that's messy and full of heart. Ages 8--12. (May)
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Review by School Library Journal Review
Gr 4--8--In this delightful story, fifth grader Riley Mayes is trying to find her place. Her friend has moved away, and she is bouncing around from group to group trying to find friends who understand her. Her teacher certainly doesn't; Riley's class interruptions and constant doodling land her in trouble on a regular basis. When the class is assigned to write a letter to a well-known person, Riley chooses to write to Joy Powers, a comedian she admires, but she gets stuck on what to write and how to say it. In the meantime, the new kid in her class, Aaron, seems okay, and classmate Cate begins to befriend Riley. Things are looking up until the other kids start harassing Riley and calling her "lesbian." Would that be so bad? How does a person know they're gay? Riley is filled with questions. Though confused, she has a tremendous support team in her parents, her older brother Danny, and her newfound friends. Through many ups and downs, Riley begins to find her footing and, most importantly, recognize that she has plenty of people to go to. This realistic and heartwarming story, filled with humor and angst, has a little something for everyone to enjoy. Readers will readily empathize with Riley. VERDICT The simple and endearing artwork with soft colors will fly off library shelves and be a hit for readers who enjoy Raina Telgemeier's books and Jennifer Holm's "Sunny" series.--Esther Keller
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Review by Horn Book Review
"Fifth grade isn't my kinda vibe," admits Riley at the start of Elliott's debut graphic novel, an exploration of self-identity that is both LOL funny and touching. Riley struggles in school, preferring to crack jokes and doodle on her assignments. And she doesn't have a crush on anyone in Eleventy-One, the boy band that is the frequent subject of her classmates' discussions. But she starts to suspect she might have a crush on Joy Powers, a celebrity comedian who is her idol and the intended recipient of a letter for a school assignment -- if Riley can only figure out how to narrow her questions ("Do you ever love stuff that other people think is weird?"). Riley finds a true friend in new -- kid Aaron but accidentally outs his parents as gay. When a classmate calls her a "lesbo," Riley (who thinks of herself as a "dude-ish girl") struggles to come to terms with her own identity. With the help of a few friends, her tight-knit family, Aaron's dads, and even Joy Powers, Riley realizes that "it's worth it to find the few people who truly get you." Elliott brings readers crisp linework, a bright palette, expressive body language, rich narrative details, and (bonus!) kitty comics. Best of all is inimitable Riley, who endears herself to readers with her budding self-awareness and undeniable moxie. Julie Danielson July/August 2022 p.118(c) Copyright 2022. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
(c) Copyright The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Review by Kirkus Book Review
Riley Mayes is having a rough time in fifth grade. She desperately wants to attend drawing classes at the art barn, a studio for creative kids, but her rambunctious energy has already caused the school to send home three notes about her behavior--and it's only September. Riley is a little goofy, a bit of a free spirit, and heavily inspired by her idol, sketch comedian Joy Powers. After Riley despairs that no one understands her, her mother challenges her to seek out friends who do get her and promises to sign her up for art classes if she keeps her grades up and stays out of trouble at school. Riley reaches out to new student Aaron and friendly classmate Cate, and with their support, she attempts to navigate schoolwork, social groups, and bullying over her gender presentation, all while coming to terms with her feelings for Joy Powers. There's a lot going on, but the story handles the plot points well, and readers--especially fans of Jeff Kinney and Amy Ignatow--will love the mixture of realism and imagination that fuels Riley's world. Readers may question Joy Powers' humor--sketch comedy doesn't translate well to graphic-novel format--but the expressive illustrations capture Riley's joy when she's thinking about her hero. Aaron and one of his fathers appear Black; all other main characters read as White. This story is real--and really great! (Graphic fiction. 8-12) Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.