PRR Staff Books We Are Thankful For 


There is nothing quite like reading a good story. As we reflect on everything we are thankful for this holiday season, one of those things at Pine Reads Review is books! Below, PRR staff share children’s, middle grade, and young adult novels that had a big effect on them and even changed their lives. Join us as we celebrate these impactful reads!

A Week of Mondays by Jessica Brody

I will be forever grateful to the young adult novel A Week of Mondays for getting me back into reading. As a child, I loved to read, and I even dreamed of one day becoming a librarian. However, my passion for reading died out during middle school. Fortunately, I picked up A Week of Mondays at the end of my sophomore year of high school, and it reignited my love of reading. Brody’s Groundhog’s Day style novel was the perfect combination of humor, supernatural, love, music, and an accurate portrayal of high school I could relate to. After sixteen-year-old Ellie has the worst case of the Mondays, complete with her incredible rockstar boyfriend Tristan breaking up with her, she promises the universe that if she can have just one chance at a do-over, she can fix everything. When she wakes up and her wish comes true, her top priority is to save her relationship. However, after countless do-overs, Ellie starts to question if she will be stuck heartbroken on a Monday forever. Be sure to try A Week of Mondays if you find yourself in a reading slump and want a witty time-warp novel to remind you why you love to read.

Emilee Ceuninck, Pine Reads Review Lead Writer & Editor

Clementine by Sara Pennypacker

I will forever be thankful for Clementine by Sara Pennypacker for igniting my love for reading. I have always been afraid of the unknown, so I stuck with books I knew and loved, like the Junie B. Jones books, but when my third-grade teacher introduced me to Clementine, my world changed. I started reading a lot more, especially books my teachers and librarians recommended. The book follows a creative and quirky third-grader as she tries to navigate her ever-changing life. I love how the story is from her point of view and shows life from a child’s perspective. I enjoyed how humorous the story is and how much I relate to Clementine, as I was a bit of a troublemaker when I was younger. The illustrations are adorable, and every character is lovable. Check out Clementine if you need a laugh and a reminder not to take life so seriously.

Kelly Marry, Pine Reads Review Co-Lead Social Media & Writer

Corduroy by Don Freeman 

I will always be appreciative of the children’s book Corduroy for teaching me an important lesson about self-acceptance as a kid. Corduroy is a small stuffed bear living in the toy section of a department store, but he is constantly passed over by shoppers in favor of the other toys. One day, a little girl wants to buy Corduroy, but her mother makes a comment about Corduroy’s lack of a button on his overalls. That night, Corduroy embarks on an unsuccessful journey to find his missing button. Despite this, the little girl comes back again to buy him and sews a new button for his overalls. The little girl loves and wants Corduroy despite his imperfections, teaching young readers (including myself) that the right people will come along in your life and will accept you, flaws and all. The story of Corduroy proves that love and relationships do not require perfection but rather authenticity! 

Sam Parker, Pine Reads Review Writer, Editor, & Social Media

Dumplin’ by Julie Murphy 

When I was younger, around middle school age, I really got into reading because my family didn’t have Wi-Fi at the time. I had to pass the time somehow, so I picked up books. One book that really stuck out to me was Dumplin’ by Julie Murphy. The protagonist, Willowdean, is a plus-sized girl who absolutely adores Dolly Parton. She lives in a small town with her mom and is known as the outcast because of her size. The town holds an annual beauty pageant, a pageant not really curated for girls like Willowdean. Willowdean decides to enter anyway, and everyone knows she isn’t going to win; even she knows she isn’t going to win. So why try? She does it in memory of her aunt, who unfortunately died from obesity, and she wants to show her town what plus-sized women can do. This book helped me realize, in a cliche way, to love who you are and to be who you are. If you want a feel-good book about accepting yourself, definitely pick up Dumplin’.

Sadie Gibson, Pine Reads Review Writer & Social Media

Inkheart by Cornelia Funke 

I would like to give a special thank you to the book Inkheart by Cornelia Funke, which initially ignited my passion for reading and subsequently reignited my passion after multiple reading slumps. I remember my parents picking up the package with this book in it and allowing me to read a few chapters on the drive home, eventually relinquishing it to my permanent possession. Throughout middle school and high school, I have reread this story at least four times and have only delved into the rest of the trilogy in recent years. It’s an amazing read for children who want a set of characters they can look up to and learn what makes reading so special. Meggie, our bookish main character, discovers an incredible secret… her father can read characters to life! While some people might find this a dream come true, Meggie and her father must learn to perfect this art and send the evil villain back to the story he came from in this incredible fantasy series.

Charity Kinsella, Pine Reads Review Editor

Legend by Marie Lu

I will always be grateful for Legend by Marie Lu for getting me into YA! As a kid, I was an avid reader, but it wasn’t until I picked up Legend in sixth grade that I discovered YA. This book was my first foray into the genre. A dystopian novel set in a futuristic, militarized version of America, Legend follows two young protagonists, June and Day, and tackles topics such as class and government oppression. I appreciate this book for introducing such issues to a younger me through fiction and opening the doors for me to discover a more mature, nuanced category of children’s literature.

Rysi Koos, Pine Reads Review Social Media

Nancy Drew by Carolyn Keene

I will always fondly remember the Nancy Drew series, penned by multiple authors under the pseudonym Carolyn Keene, as my elementary school obsession. My nose was constantly buried in Nancy Drew books—I’d brave motion sickness to read a few on long road trips and sneak one under the covers past bedtime. Her quick wit and daring spirit were so fun to read about, especially since a lot of the books I read in school were older stories featuring one-dimensional stereotypes of women. Also, I firmly believe that you can never go wrong with a well-written mystery, so maybe pick up The Hidden Staircase or The Sign of the Twisted Candles if you’re in a reading slump! Thank you, Nancy Drew, for introducing me to the mystery genre and never failing to take me on an irresistible adventure.

Aruna Sreenivasan, Pine Reads Review Assistant Director & Lead Community Outreach

The Keeper of Night by Kylie Lee Baker

A grisly story with a ferocious main character, The Keeper of Night by Kylie Lee Baker may seem like an odd subject of gratitude for an otherwise warm and fuzzy holiday. However, I owe my deepest thanks to this story for making me feel more seen than I ever have while reading a YA fantasy novel, which, believe me, I’ve read my fair share of. The Keeper of Night brilliantly weaves Japanese folklore into its dark, alluring world as it deals with the nebulous feelings that come with being biracial. Half British Reaper, half Japanese Shinigami, Ren Scarborough is at the bottom of the Reaper hierarchy in 1880s London. Constantly harassed because her too-dark hair and foreign eyes make her a target, Ren reaches her boiling point—and several blazing eyeballs later, she’s forced to flee the city. Her plan? Seek refuge in the only other place she might possibly be safe: Japan. But much to her fury, Japan is not the welcoming harbor she had hoped it would be. Instead of acceptance, she only finds more enemies. Grappling with disillusionment and death threats, Ren claws her way through trial after trial in an effort to carve out a place for herself.

Melia Gemrose, Pine Reads Review Editor

The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan

A book I will forever be grateful for is The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan. I first read the book in fifth grade, and it opened my eyes to how fun reading can be and how to get lost in a book. The Lightning Thief follows the story of Percy Jackson, a twelve-year-old boy who discovers he is a demigod. With the help of his friends Annabeth and Grover, he sets out on a quest across the U.S. to find Zeus’ stolen lightning bolt. For anyone wanting to get lost in a fun and exciting story that combines mythology with the present day, this story is for you!

Ash Johnston, Pine Reads Review Editor

The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan

I am eternally grateful for The Lightning Thief, my first favorite book. I was eight when my aunt told me about the Percy Jackson books and suggested I read them. I immediately checked out The Lightning Thief at my school library, and I was hooked from that first iconic line. Before that moment, I hadn’t known what it meant to read a true novel. I had read small chapter books before, but nothing like the Percy Jackson series. Percy Jackson is a troubled kid who learns he is a Greek demigod, and he goes on quests with his friends Annabeth and Grover as they fight characters from Greek mythology. This book turned me into a reader for life, and Percy Jackson and the Olympians is still one of my favorite series today. I read all of Rick Riordan’s books, waiting years for some to come out. The Lightning Thief started a whole new chapter of my life, giving me a role model in Annabeth and a character to love in Percy. I genuinely don’t think I would be the person I am today if I had never picked it up.

Sam Yanis, Pine Reads Review Writer

The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane by Kate DiCamillo 

I am eternally grateful for Kate DiCamillo’s The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane. I first read this book as a young child, but I find myself coming back to it time and time again because of its emotional depth. The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane changed me as a reader and a person because it taught me to empathize and embrace my vulnerability. This middle-grade novel depicts the tumultuous adventures of china rabbit Edward, who is separated from Abilene, the little girl who loves him dearly. As he travels and meets people from all walks of life, Edward reevaluates what it means to love and be loved. Featuring delicate illustrations and stirring prose, The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane is a poignant tale for readers of all ages.

Ashley Amacher, Pine Reads Review Assistant Director & Lead Editor

Year of the Griffin by Diana Wynne Jones 

I’ve been a lover of the fantasy genre ever since I started my reading journey, as I’m sure my childhood library checkout history will show. Year of the Griffin is not a surprising addition to my repertoire. It is simply an amazing read that has stayed with me throughout the years. Diana Wynne Jones’ dialogue, character creation, and plots are unparalleled, creating stories that not only capture you in suspense for what happens next, but make you want to read the lines again and again for their pure enjoyment. A school fantasy with magic, students of different species (yes, there are griffins), and hilarious dialogue (to this day, I know exactly where on the page my favorite lines are), Year of the Griffin is definitely a book that I am truly grateful for.

Natalie Hsu, Pine Reads Review Co-Lead Social Media & Web