Ways to Make Sunshine


Ryan knows her parents have something difficult to share when she and her brother, Ray, are offered ice cream. However she’s devastated to learn they’ll be moving. Her disappointment grows when she realises her new home is ‘cosy’ and Dad’s new job means that she’ll no longer hear him call, ‘Be who we named you to be’, as he drops her off for school.

Economising is tough. So is missing Amanda who’s moved to a bigger house in a new area. Furthermore, Amanda has new friends, like Red, who taunts Ryan when she doesn’t swim at Amanda’s birthday sleepover. How can Red know that swimming will mess up her hair that Grandma has spent ages straightening? What if Red’s words push Ryan too far? What if Ray denying her an opportunity to cycle at the park with him might lead Ryan to pay him back? Thereafter, what if the cancellation of the Grand Floral Parade might inspire Ryan with an idea for her own event? Ryan has lots of ideas. In fact, they seem to be like Ways to Make Sunshine.

This is our first visit with Ryan whose dynamism, strength and convictions are appealing and engaging. We recommend this title to any newer chapter book reader who enjoys a particularly well written, realistic family and friendship story.


Ways to Make Sunshine

Renée Watson, illustrated by Mechal Roe


Ryan, Amanda and Zoe plan their own Grand Floral Parade when it seems the city event will be rained off. It’s just one of many Ways to Make Sunshine. It seems as though Ryan is always trying to live up to the meaning of her name- ‘king’ and that means I am a leader’. Furthermore, she’s trying to live up to the expectations of her Mum and Dad and Grandma. Grandma tells her that she is ‘beautiful. That’s whether [you’re] hair is straight or not.’ 
However, sometimes it’s hard to live up to expectations such as when your older brother taunts you, or Amanda’s new friend says you can’t swim. Then you just have to prove them wrong, whatever the consequences!
Ways to Make Sunshine is a new series for newer chapter book readers from Renée Watson, best known for her prize-winning YA title Piecing Me Together. The writer is using her own Portland childhood setting and memories, and family and friends as inspiration. Her storytelling is engaging, real and vibrant. This book and series will appeal to readers who enjoy real to life, family and friendship stories particularly.


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