The Secret Story of Shy Shelly by Justine Hail
Published by OMF Literature
Amazon | Barnes and Noble | Buqo | Flipreads | Google Books | Kobo | iBooks | Add to Goodreads
There were not a lot of stories about Shelly. No one talked about her. No one knew her. She had no friend exept Huey Louie, her pet turtle of five years. One night, Shelly wrote on a paper star: I WISH TO HAVE A REAL FRIEND. Her wish comes true when she easily becomes a part of the group called Butterfly Club. For the first time, Shelly sat in the cafeteria with lunch buddies. But when she becomes the seatmate of the mysterious class outcast Vanna, Shelly also discovers a sweet and patient friend in her. But Vanna could never be part of the Butterfly Club. With friends on opposing sides, Shelly must learn what it means to be a true friend.
The last time I read a middle grade book was when I was in my elementary year and back then, Sweet Valley, Nancy Drew, and Choose Your Own Adventure books were the norm. Fast forward to these current times, I still find a certain joy when I read young adult books, or basically just books for the younger audience. Maybe it makes me live vicariously through the characters, not to mention relive the good 'ol yesteryears.
Anyway, this is just one of the many reasons why I got excited to get my hands on a local middle grade book: The Secret Story of Shy Shelly. But to be more detailed, here are 5 reasons why you (and your middle grade reader) should pick up this fun read:
1. It's more than just a story of a shy girl and bullies. Sure, the book's synopsis hints this kind of plot, but after finishing the book in one sitting, there's just so much more to the story. I love how the author was able to include plot points that are a good balance of not being too fluffy with the right amount of realistic situations. This is what separates Shy Shelly from other books in the same genre and category: it's unabashedly honest, pragmatic, and FRESH.
2. You'll be able to identify yourself in the cast of characters. There's a Shelly, Vanna, Patricia, and Sophia in each of us, or at some point, snippets of each of the characters' personalities.
3. The Butterfly Club. How awesome is it to be part of a group with a common interest? Truth be told, I wasn't in any part of a clique with the cool kids, although I was friends with a few kids from class who were kick-ass in their own way. In the story, Shelly gets her wish to have friends, although there's a catch to it. Camaraderie is one of the main themes of this book, and the author was brilliant in putting a different spin to this concept right at the end.
4. The art of Elbert Or. Let me just say for the record that Elbert Or's illustrations continue to amaze me since Bakemono High and Manosaur. His style of art is perfect for Shy Shelly, capturing the innocence, awkwardness, and triumphs of the book's protagonist. I love how each chapter of the book is meticulously illustrated to emphasize snippets of the story. Middle graders will have a kick appreciating the detailed illustration in every page.
5. DIY Projects. From making your own paper stars to baking strawberry cupcakes, Shy Shelly is so much fun to read. I like that these small projects make the story interactive and readers can also get to experience Shelly's world.
Shy Shelly was such an enjoyable read that I'm excited to learn that book 2 is up in the works! I'm so stoked to know what else Justine Hail and Elbert Or will cook up for the second installment (hopefully the deets to what Shelly hinted at the end of book 1...and more!).
Disclaimer: I received this book for free from OMF Literature in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.