Wednesday, April 21, 2021

Ways to Grow Love

Watson, Renee. Ways to Grow Love (Ryan Hart #2)
April 27th 2021 by Bloomsbury Children's Books
E ARC provided by Edelweiss Plus

Ryan is looking forward to her summer vacation, but her mother's pregnancy is causing lots of changes. Ryan has to go to the library with her grandmother, and has to rush through picking out books. She doesn't get to go to the market, since her mother is on bed rest, and has a friend selling things at the market for her. That's a good thing, since the family is still struggling financially. Her mother isn't feeling well, and even her father's attempts at bringing home gifts for the mother from a coworker don't make things better, especially when Ryan and Ray try to get several jars of pickles out of the house by eating them all! There is some fun, hanging out in the neighborhood with friends and her older brother Ray, but the changes in her life make Ryan uncomfortable and sad. She's looking forward to going to church camp, but when her friend Amanda invites Red to come to camp as well, Ryan doesn't think this will end well. Red was mean to her at Amanda's house, but at least at camp, she is a bit more subdued, and camp goes fairly well. Back home, Ryan finishes the library summer reading program, and keeps up with cooking, donating no bake muffins to the homeless. Ryan is worried about the arrival of her new sibling, but reflects on her summer of activities and begins to realize that there is room in her life for lots of different kinds of love. 
Strengths: I would have loved these books when I was in elementary school. The Portland, Oregon setting would have seemed so exotic, and I would have loved the illustrations. This had a decided Heywood's B is for Betsy ring to it. I loved that Ryan had friends who enjoyed the same kinds of activities that she did, and having her go to a church summer camp was great. I certainly spent a lot of my childhood in Vacation Bible School and similar activities. Of course, my favorite part was her involvement in the summer reading program. Readers who enjoy Claudia Mills' books for this age group, or series like Ivy and Bean or Draper's Sassy will love joining Ryan in her world. 
Weaknesses: This was a bit young for my  middle school readers. Watson's new Love is a Revolution is a better fit for my library. 
What I really think: I would definitely buy this for an elementary library, and the series would make a great gift for a reader in that age range, but I'll probably pass for my school library. 

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