Apple Crush

Random. (Peapod Farm: Bk. 2). May 2022. 208p. Tr $20.99. ISBN 9780593125380; pap. $12.99. ISBN 9781984896872.
Gr 3-7–Jen’s life is split between the environments of her mom’s farm and her dad’s residence in the city. Mom and her boyfriend have an outdoorsy lifestyle full of chores and hands-on learning. Dad’s life in the city is more about experiences and consumption (and the local bodega cat). Wherever she is, Jen leans on her dual loves of dragon fiction and illustration, especially now that her stepsister Andy has fallen for the new neighbor, Eddie. Between getting teased at a new school for her tastes and enduring all the couples around her at home, Jen struggles to belong. Knisley’s use of facial expressions and juxtaposition expertly signals tween characters’ unspoken feelings during awkward interactions. The story is packed with empathy for each character’s point of view. Readers will also pick up details about farming mushrooms, as well as making apple cider and apple cider donuts.
VERDICT Readers looking for budding romance (or avoiding it altogether) will find characters to cheer in this autumn-themed follow-up that’s fine for new readers.

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