Ways to Make Sunshine by Renée Watson
Release date: April 28, 2020
An ARC was provided by Bloomsbury Children's in exchange for an honest review.
Summary: Ryan Hart loves to spend time with her friends, loves to invent recipes, and has a lot on her mind—school, self-image, and family. Her dad finally has a new job, but money is tight. That means changes like selling their second car and moving into a new (old) house. But Ryan is a girl who knows how to make sunshine out of setbacks. Because Ryan is all about trying to see the best. Even when things aren’t all she would wish for—her brother is infuriating, her parents don’t understand, when her recipes don’t turn out right, and when the unexpected occurs—she can find a way forward, with wit and plenty of sunshine.
The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly: I've been hearing about this book since I still interned at Bloomsbury, and my interest was sky-high. It's been pitched as a modern, Black-girl Ramona Quimby, which is something I am absolutely here for. I devoured the Ramona books over and over again as an elementary schooler, and I love the idea of young girls today having a new version of her.
There are sibling squabbles and money troubles, and there's an absolute precociousness about Ryan. She is opinionated and determined and creative, all of which makes her a wonderfully dynamic character.
I will say the length of the book felt a little short for middle grade; it and the illustrations leaned more towards the original Ramona books, which were intended for ages 7-10. But I know the book market has changed slightly.
I also found the chapters a bit choppy at times (that's something I've noticed about a lot of Renée's books), and that the plot moved a little too quickly. But those are small quibbles, because I can see a lot of elementary-age kids and preteens enjoying this book.
The Verdict: The ending was a little abrupt, but I look forward to reading more!
Will I be adding this book to my library?: Possibly.