Book Review

Short and Skinny by Mark Tatulli

Today Annie and I will be reviewing the graphic autobiography of Mark Tatulli: Short and Skinny

The story follows a boy into middle school where he wrestles with typical middle school drama: body image, bullies, crushes, and struggling to find his own place. 

Me: Did you like the title of this? Would you have called it something else? 

Annie: The Summer of Star Bores.

Me: Why? 

Annie: Because that’s like, the main thing. He makes a joke movie based on Star Wars. All with his friends and family and stuff. It’s really neat. I’d like to see it but I don’t like Star Wars. Whatever. It was based on a true story. 

Me: Did you like that? 

Annie: Yeah! It’s more interesting to read about people who are real. Like, real life people.

Me: Who you would like to meet from this book? 

Annie: The bike. No. Um… none of them. 

Me: WHAT! 

Annie: I’m kidding! The main character. He makes movies like I do. I just made one! But mine is a documentary, not a parody, like in the book. My documentary is about Jorgen. 

This is Jorgen, Annie’s cat. I’m not really sure how she is going to make a documentary of him though, because this is pretty much all he ever does. 

Me: Was there a lesson you think the author wants you to take away? 

Annie: He didn’t give up at all. Even though making his movie was really hard and expensive, he never gave up. It’s hard to be in middle school and you want to give up sometimes. But he never did and that’s important. 

Me: What’s something you never gave up on? 

Annie: Learning Japanese. 

Me: You JUST started! 

Annie: And I haven’t given up!

My review: 

We are a household that loves the graphic novel format, so when I saw this biography, I knew it would be a good fit for us. The art style is clean and uncomplicated, but still visually interesting.  As in many biographies, however, where childhood is reflected on using the lens of nostalgia, the ending was a little too sweet for my personal tastes. After the story, there is a brief epilogue with a “where are they now” catch up blurb for each of the main characters. I used this an an opportunity to show Annie that the author, whose love of animation and videography began in in middle school days, never gave up on his dreams and continues to professionally draw, write, and produce. 

The main character, Mark, struggles with body image issues as he is, as the title implies; “short and skinny.” He tries several quick fixes before finally coming to the realization that being short and skinny isn’t awful. Sometimes it has its advantages. Sometimes, even, the short guy saves the day. 


Long time no anything at all

We are going to be reviving the MDBC here pretty shortly. I really feel a mighty need to get back into writing and this was such a fun project that unintentionally fell to the wayside in ’18. Annie and I have several books on our TBR list and can’t wait to get started! Stay tuned!

Book Review

Wonder by R.J. Palacio

Next up is Wonder. That super popular book that had a hold list so long I finally just broke down and bought the damn thing.


Mama: So. You asked me to read this. Why is that?

Annie: Because it was awesome. Also I REALLY want to see the movie, but, you know, you have that rule.

(Yes. I do have that rule. The book comes first! Sorry kid.)

M: Why was it awesome?

A: I like how August was different. He changed a lot. He stood up for himself. It’s sad though sometimes because people are so mean.

M: People really can be mean sometimes.

A: There are no mean people at my school though.

M: Really! I thought there were some people you didn’t get along with?

A: Just because we don’t get along doesn’t mean they’re mean!

M: Noted. What was your favorite part?

A: When the boys stood up for August! That was a surprise. But you have to stand up for your friends. You just have to stand up for people sometimes. You just have to.

M: Why would you recommend this book to people?

A: I already said! Because it’s awesome. Can I eat my pancakes now?

M: Oh my bad. Commence with pancake eating.


Mama’s Review:

I wanted to really fall in love with this book. I DID like the overall message of the story (Choose Kind) which is definitely valid and a good motto for everyone, especially children. We experienced an episode this weekend where Annie ran into someone she knew and he rebuked her. The parents thought it was funny and laughed. It broke my heart for her. How hard would it have been for them to be kind to her? It’s not hard.

The reason I had a hard time with this book is because I felt as though there were a lot of instances of lack of character development. I wanted MORE from several of them. Some storylines petered out that I feel would have added a lot of richness to the story. However, I have to remember this is for kids and not adults. I get it, I swear I do! It’s difficult to switch from Sleeping Beauties by Stephen and Owen King to a book written for fifth graders!

Fun Stuff

Little Feminist

Not exactly book related but I wanted to share this puzzle that Annie was given by an amazing coworker of mine.

Mama: Who is this a puzzle of?

Annie: I don’t know how to explain. Like….Really great women..

M: who’s your favorite?

A: Sally Ride.

M: why?

A: Cause she was in NASA.

M: who do you recognize on there?

A: Rosa Parks, Frida Kahlo, Hilary Clinton, Cleopatra, Queen Elizabeth I, Malala Yousafzai, Mari Curie, Amelia Earhart and Sally Ride but you know that.

M: What else do you want to say?

A: Yeah. Where’s Helen Keller??

Edited to add: you can buy your own for your favorite little feminist through this link! Any links I post on the Mother-Daughter bookclub are for the benefit of the reader and are not affiliate links!

Little Feminist 500 Piece Family Puzzle

Book Review · Fiction · Graphic Novel

Nightlights by Lorena Alvarez

The first book that we are going to review is a graphic novel by Lorena Alvarez.


Annie: I like this book a lot, but, I like graphic novels. Mama you’ll like this one too.

Mama: Will I? Why?

Annie: The art of course! You like art and this has GREAT art. But it’s weird too. They have really big eyes. I wonder if I could draw like that? Probably, I’m a really good artist.

M: You are, you really are. So tell me, what was your favorite and least favorite parts of the book?

A: Well, my favorite was the ghosty girl. I liked how you couldn’t tell right away if she was bad or good. And, you know, the art is really so good. I love the colors. Like being under the sea but not under the sea!

M: I’ll pay attention to the colors when I read it. What did you not like?

A: It was creepy. It’s not that I DIDN’T like it because it was creepy but, it definitely is creepy. So…. be careful.

M: You were creeped out??

A: Mama…. no way… I love Coraline and Nightmare Before Christmas and stuff. I LOVE creepy. But not everyone does.

M: Good point.

Mama’s Review:

This book definitely has some creepy parts. Annie is right though, the art is perfect for the story. Ethereal and rich, you do get the “underwater” feeling when you read it. There is a lot to explore on each page, so this definitely isn’t a book to speed though. You’ll be tempted to do so because it’s so short, but take your time and really be present with each panel, you won’t be disappointed. Annie has a real affinity for graphic novels, so we’ll likely be spending a lot of time with them for a little while. She can read several of those in a sitting.

We also liked the cultural aspect of the book. Annie goes to public school and has never even seen a nun so at first, she was even confused by their appearance. She didn’t know what the habit meant and we had a conversation about religion and why certain faiths have different uniforms. She felt as though she could really relate to the main character’s sleeplessness because she often finds her mind too “busy” to be sleeping. And then, of course, so is mine since I’m the one who gets woken up at 1am to see her latest drawing, or to consider how “dang cute” the cat is and make up stories as to how she (the cat, that is, not Annie) ended up missing a leg.

You can find this book by following this link or checking your local library!



Welcome to the Mother Daughter Book Club!



I am Amanda, the mother of an incredible ten-year-old girl. Her father and I have so far raised her to be a voracious reader with many interests. In books, AND in life. I started this blog as a way for the two of us to share our love of books and for us to connect through reading. The format will be incredibly simple: She reads and reviews a book. I read and review the same book. I thought it would be interesting to compare and contrast the same item through the lens of a ten-year-old and her mom. I hope you stick around and keep your eyes out for further introductions and our first review! We already have a book picked out!