Top 4 Features of a Great Book

Dear Book Lovers,

I thought occurred to me the other day. What exactly makes a good book? We can all name books that we loved, they may be the books that you reread and each time feels like the first time. You can probably even name books you didn’t like at ALL. They may even be the ones you tossed aside and opted instead to “reclaim your time.” Whatever the case may be, I decided to sit down and list out what I feel makes a great, page turning book. 

Compelling Story

This first one feels obvious. The story must be interesting. It should be unpredictable and keep you on the edge of your seat wanting to know what happens next. If there is a lesson to be learned (picture books are often good for this) that’s even better. Take readers to a new place or open them up a new experience through your story and chances are high that you have a great book. 

Engaging writing 

Great writers just have a way with words that draw you into their work. You can picture every scene, have connections with characters that feels real, and find the story resonates with you for whatever reason. I like to say that when the writing is REALLY good, it makes me want to throw something! For my adult book lovers, Tayari Jones is a master at this. I cannot even understand how she strings together words the way she does. Young book lovers, Elizabeth Acevedo also has a glorious way with words. 

Relatable Characters 

When I read a book, I want to understand the characters. Everything they do needs to make sense based upon what the writer presents about their personality and background. As a reader, when I understand a character’s plight or have a really strong emotional reaction to them, that makes everything about the book even better. 

A Strong Opening and Satisfying Ending

Ideally, the first sentence of the first paragraph should hook me. If it makes me laugh or shocks me, I know I am going to keep going to see what happens. Sometimes first sentence doesn’t happen but certainly the opening pages or chapter should set the tone and pique my interest. 

Similarly, the ending should satisfy. That doesn’t mean that all the loose ends are tied up in a perfect bow. Rather, it should bring things to a close in a way that makes given everything that has happened. If a character has been rebellious the entire book and nothing has broken them of the tendency to be that way, I want one final act of rebellion in the end or some self awareness that maybe came about as a result of being rebellious. Something along the lines. I love when I have finished a great book, close it, and just give a happy sigh. Now THAT is some good reading! 


In the comments below, tell me what you think makes an amazing book. I would love to hear from you!


These Hands (Book Review)

Have you ever stopped to think about the power we possess in our hands?  I mean, in this very moment I am using my hands to type this post. I’m using them to push my glasses further up my nose every so often. Earlier I used them to turn the pages of some amazing picture books that I will review here on the blog. So with that idea in mind, I present These Hands written by Hope Lynne Price and illustrated by Bryan Collier. This is a beautiful picture book that will teach young children about everything that hands can do. Some are immediately relatable, such as tickling, writing, and clapping. Others, such as helping grandma to walk, may lead children to learn about new experiences. 

The pictures are absolutely gorgeous. Firstly, many have a textured element that is different from standard illustrations. Secondly, the illustrator does a great job conveying action.  There is a page where the main character is getting her hair done and it looks so lively. I could swear I could actually see her mother parting her hair. 

These Hands is for young readers 3-7 years old.

Fishing Day (Book Review)

The Jim Crow era found Black and White people living separately, with the latter feeling that they were superior.  Of course we know that thinking was incorrect and prevented Black people from progressing the way we could have (and absolutely should have) if our basic human rights were protected from day one.  Still, there is a lot to be said for how many Black people continuously believed in spreading love to others. After all, hate can be a heavy load to carry in your heart. 

Fishing Day, written by Andrea Davis Pinkney and illustrated by Shane W. Evans, explores the experiences Reenie and her mother have when they go fishing. They go to the Jim Crow River with their secret trick sure to make all the fish nibble on their lines. However, on this particular day, Mr. Troop and his son Peter (better known as Pigeon) come along. The two families stay in their separate spots along the river, observing the Jim Crow laws that said Black and White people couldn’t interact. Pigeon starts acting out, throwing pebbles at Reenie and her mom when his dad proves unsuccessful at catching fish. 

Instead of retaliating, Reenie sets out to help Pigeon. She teaches him how to be calm and attract fish. From that day on, Reenie and Peter find ways to be friendly toward each other.  This beautiful display of kindness shows that even in the face of hatred, love can take you very far. 

For young readers 5-9 years old

Nikki & Deja: Substitute Trouble (Book Review)

When Deja’s beloved teacher Ms. Shelby-Ortiz  is out of school unexpectedly due to an injury, her classroom gets turned upside down. Nobody lines up properly, people talk out of turn, students lie about what lesson they’re on, and much more! On top of that, they get the WORST substitute teacher ever! He doesn’t do anything the way Ms. Shelby-Ortiz does and it shows in his classroom management skills (or lack thereof). Deja and her best friend Nikki decide that they don’t like any of this. They set out to give the substitute some helpful tips and try to get their classmates to behave. Unfortunately, their efforts somewhat backfire and the girls learn that not every situation is as bad as it seems. Especially when there are worse situations around the corner!

Nikki & Deja: Substitute Trouble was written by Karen English and illustrated by Laura Freeman.  Your young reader will likely relate to the shenanigans that can occur when a substitute teacher fills in for the day.  It will serve as an excellent reminder that students should respect adults in the classroom and that failure to do so has real consequences. 

This book is for young readers 6-9 years old. 

Who Will I Be, Lord? (Review)

And what will I be, Lord? What will I be? Who will I be?

These are all questions that the protagonist of Who Will I Be, Lord? asks herself. As she looks at the the members of her family, she sees that everyone works in different careers that plays to their various strengths. Her cousin is musician. Although music is his passion, he works at a diner to pay the bills. He dreams and puts forth the work to make his dreams come true. Her mother is a stay at home mom. She cares for members of the community and her family. People say she was born with the ability to nurture. Our protagonist has very accomplished people in her family and knows that the possibilities for her life are endless.  Ultimately, she realizes that all decisions for her future are up to her to make. And that is certainly a valuable lesson for everyone.

Who Will I Be, Lord? is by Vaunda Micheaux Nelson ; illustrations by Sean Qualls. For readers 5-9 years old.


Solo Girl (Book Review)

Cass is a math wizard. She memorized her times tables and can solve any problem placed before her.  But when her family moves to a new neighborhood, her math skills don’t seem as impressive as they were before and she doesn’t have her friends nearby.  Instead of socializing, she spends lonely hours wishing she could unlock the side of her brain that would allow her to double dutch.

As fate would have it, Cass gets the opportunity to help the most popular double dutch girl in the neighborhood with her math lessons. In exchange, Cass will get jump rope lessons from the best. Will that be enough to give Cass graceful feet? Will she make new friends? Check out Solo Girl by Andrea Davis Pinkney for the answers!

This book is for young readers ages 7-9.

In the comments below, tell me something difficult that you learned to do during childhood.

Flossie and the Fox (Book Review)

When people ask if I have a favorite book, I usually say no. I mean, I have read so many enjoyable books in my life that it is impossible to narrow it down to just one!

Well, I have a confession. I definitely have a top book. A book from my childhood that stands out so clearly that I still remember the first time I read it–back in first grade! It is a book that, when I ran across it unexpectedly in my neighborhood library, I gasped. Out loud. Literally. It is just that special to me.

So I’m sure you’re reading this and saying, “Enough already! What is this fabulous book?” The book is entitled Flossie & the Fox, written by Patricia C. McKissack and illustrated by Rachel Isadora. Flossie Finley is a precious young African American girl.  One day Flossie’s grandmother asks her to take some food to a neighbor. In doing so, she warns her to watch out for any foxes because they can be very sly. Certainly enough, Flossie encounters the fox in the woods. He wants to get the tasty treats in her basket but Flossie is one step ahead.  I won’t spoil the entire plot but just know that she outsmarts the fox in a masterful way.

Flossie & the Fox is a beautifully written book.  It captures Southern dialect and the unique voice of each character in a way that makes reader feel like they’re right there watching the action unfold.  Moreover, the story contains a very critical lesson that parents will want to discuss with children: You should never let anyone tell you who are or are not. They don’t have say over your character and you should never give them any power to think they do.

This book is perfect for little readers 4-8 years old.

Michelle (Book Review)

From both her parents, Michelle learned to dream big.

Throughout her life, dreaming big is what allowed Michelle Robinson Obama to achieve success during her life.  Michelle, written by Deborah Hopkinson and illustrated by AG Ford, chronicles the future First Lady’s life from childhood to the night she danced at her first inaugural ball as an adult.  Michelle was born to parents who valued education and instilled that into their children. Whether it was learning to read at a young age or becoming middle school salutatorian, or gaining admission into an Ivy League institution, she always pursued academic excellence.

Her perseverance paid off and she started working at a law firm soon after graduating from Law School.  There, she met a young man who was passionate about serving the community. Michelle was impressed by his drive and they started dating.  That man was Barack Obama.  Together, they dreamed big about the ways they could help this country to be even better and create unity among all people.  When Barack ran for President of the United States, Michelle was right by his side. On November 4, 2008 Barack Obama was elected as the 44th President of the U.S. The woman who grew up on Chicago’s South Side became the First Lady of the U.S. Barack and Michelle Obama (along with their two daughters) made history as they became the first Black First Family. It was a historic moment that many people will never forget.

From Michelle Obama we can all learn a valuable lesson: If you dream big and put in the work to actualize those dreams, you can accomplish anything.

Michelle is for readers 7 and up.

This is another selection in our Women’s History Month series.  In the comments below, tell me what other powerful women you’d like to read about.

Oprah: The Little Speaker (Book Review)

In honor of March being Women’s History Month, here at Peachy Reads we’re going to highlight some books about strong, powerful women who have made or are continuing to make a difference in the world.


Oprah Winfrey is best known for building a media empire that began with her eponymous daytime talk show. She is the first Black woman to become a billionaire.  However, Oprah was not born into a life of privilege and wealth. In Oprah: The Little Speaker, readers gain more insight into Oprah’s childhood. Raised by her grandmother, she was taught to read and write at a very young age.  This laid the foundation for her to become a strong orator. While this endeared her to adults, it left her open to teasing from her peers.

Although Oprah faced various challenges throughout her adolescence, it was clear that God had a bigger plan for her life. He placed people and opportunities in her life to set her up for success. Oprah: The Little Speaker was written by Carole Boston Weatherford and illustrated by London Ladd. It is for readers 6-8 years old.

In the comments below answer this question: If you could ask Oprah Winfrey one question, what would it be and why?

Junebug (Review)

For a young boy growing up in the projects of Connecticut, life can be pretty difficult. For soon to be ten year old Reeve McClain, Jr., it is like living in Never Land. Everyone is angry, fighting, abusing drugs and alcohol, and using weapons.  It seems like the only option in a neighborhood that doesn’t nurture the dreams of children. Despite this, Reeve (best known as Junebug) holds on to his dream of sailing a boat with every fiber of his being. Through everything–losing a big brother figure, looking after his little sister, and handling an aunt who lacks family loyalty–Junebug focuses on a special act on birthday that he hopes will turn his dreams into reality.

Junebug is a very captivating read. I found my heart truly aching for everything this boy had to endure when he should be afforded the opportunity to just be a child. The biggest lesson that readers can take away from this book is that it is always appropriate to be true to yourself and resist negative peer pressure. A dream and determination is often all you need to get out of trying situations.


Written by: Alice Mead

Age Range: 8-12 years old