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Have you ever had one of those devastatingly rainy days? Your plans are ruined and you just feel kind of defeated? What do you do when that happens? In Ways to Make Sunshine, author Renée Watson shows that with spirit, kindness, and determination, you can make sunshine on any rainy day.

If you’ve read the Ramona Quimby books, you’ll likely be thinking of them when you read Ways to Make Sunshine. Both girls have strong spirits, great personalities, and unique opinions. But you can definitely feel the different times the books take place in as you read. In Ramona’s story, children are expected to be in their place, and the characters are also more old fashioned in the ways they talk and act. Ryan’s story is much more like life today. But both stories are great books with even better characters.

In Ways to Make Sunshine, Ryan goes through experiences that are very relatable for most of us. One time, Ryan’s not sure how to react to a not-so-nice girl.  I’ve been in similar situations and understand it’s tough to know what to do.  But even if you don’t always make the right choices, you can learn from your mistakes and do better next time, like Ryan. That’s what good leaders do: they learn from their mistakes and never give up on their dreams.

The name Ryan means “king,” and she is always trying to be a leader. From moving to a new home to school talent shows, she shows everyone what it really means to set an example of kindness and determination. Her parents are always telling her to “be who we named you to be,” and Ryan works towards living up to that again and again.

Sometimes, as a girl and a person of color, I feel a little looked down upon. Although Watson doesn’t specifically mention it in the book, I wonder if Ryan has had to deal with this as well. I also wonder if that’s why her parents gave her such a strong name. She doesn’t give up, she doesn’t settle, and she believes in herself. That’s one thing I admire about Ryan: she stays strong and kind and herself. She inspires me to always do that too.

Ryan’s story is also full of fun and laughter. I love her spirit and personality. Ryan’s experiences always make me smile and a lot of them make me laugh. Her sense of humor is just the right amount of hilarious, and her personality is one of my favorite aspects of the story.

If you like books that entertain and inspire you at the same time, you should definitely check out Ways to Make Sunshine. Ryan will show you her determination to be kind and make the best out of situations. She will make you experience the full range of emotions as she leads you through her story. You’ll find yourself thinking hard and laughing too. Ryan has her own special way of doing things, a way that makes sunshine.

Ways to Make Sunshine by Renée Watson. Bloomsbury, 2020. Buy the book here and support Stone Soup in the process!

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