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Review: Stepping Stones by Lucy Knisley

Stepping Stones (Peapod Farm #1)

By Lucy Knisley

Random House Graphic

ISBN: 978059312524
$12.99 (PB)
Grades 3-7
Out Now

Find it at:
McLean & Eakin | Your Library

The first time I heard of Lucy Knisley was when her second book, Relish, was announced as an Alex Award winner at the 2014 Youth Media Awards. I went out and read it and have been singing its praises ever since – honest, vulnerable, intelligent, and informative – a joy to read. The Alex Award is given to “books written for adults that have special appeal to young adults”, so as I’ve been enjoying her post-Relish work for grown-ups, I’ve held out hope that one day she might write a graphic novel for a younger audience. That day has arrived, folks, and Stepping Stones is the sort of memoir(ish – it’s fiction) story that readers are going to read and reread and reread.

When her parents divorce, Jen is uprooted from the city to live a country life of chicken coops and farmers markets with her mom. This extreme scenery change would be hard enough, but added into the mix are mom’s often-annoying boyfriend, Walter, and his two daughters. Will Jen find her place in this unfamiliar new reality?

Stepping Stones isn’t a memoir, but id does draw on elements from the author’s real life. Because of this, it hums with authenticity. The relationship between struggling Jen and know-it-all Andy will ring true for many readers. Knisley also deftly deploys humor in ways that make for a balanced emotional journey.

Knisley’s pencilwork (Blackwing 602s) is clean and refined. The digital color is subtle and warm. The pacing and panel work is clear and unfussy.

Stepping Stones is a wonderful kick off this this fish-out-of-water series. It’s also likely to make a whole lot of new Lucy Knisley fans.

Review copy purchased.

Watch Lucy Knisley give some behind the scenes deets on Stepping Stones:

About Travis Jonker

Travis Jonker is an elementary school librarian in Michigan. He writes reviews (and the occasional article or two) for School Library Journal and is a member of the 2014 Caldecott committee. You can email Travis at scopenotes@gmail.com, or follow him on Twitter: @100scopenotes.


  1. I really liked how realistic the relationship with the stepdad character was. So many times kids are in situations like that and the adults don’t grow or change and the kids just have to get through it. I don’t know that we always see that expressed in books about adult characters who aren’t coded as “the bad guy” in some way.