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APPLE CRUSH by Lucy Knisley


by Lucy Knisley ; illustrated by Lucy Knisley

Pub Date: May 3rd, 2022
ISBN: 978-0-593-12538-0
Publisher: Random House Graphic

A 12-year-old girl adjusts to her first year of middle school in this sequel to Stepping Stones (2020).

Fall has come to Peapod Farm, where Jen lives with her mom and her mom's boyfriend, Walter, whose daughters, Andy and Reese, spend weekends on the farm. Andy and Jen have gotten jobs helping their neighbors (two White men whose relationship is undefined) at Fisher Dairy Farm run their annual pumpkin patch, complete with haunted hayride. Jen and Mr. Fisher's nephew Eddie share interests, but it's Andy who has a crush on Eddie; Jen is busy dreading the transition to a new school and is not yet interested in romance. Knisley does a stellar job capturing the confusion of middle school and exploring how children grapple with challenges like divorce and blended families. School is tough for Jen, but her artistic talents help her make friends, and when she sticks up for herself and her sort-of stepsister, she realizes she's not the only one struggling. The graphic-novel format allows the characters to display a full range of emotions without sacrificing plot. The full-color artwork is energetic and engaging, though an illustration of a structure that resembles a Native American wigwam being used as a play fort may be a questionable choice. The book portrays a diverse community without race being an issue; the main cast is White, and some secondary and background characters are brown skinned.

Warm, fortifying, and cozy—like a drink of apple cider.

(author's note) (Graphic novel. 8-14)