The Real Riley Mayes
Fifth grade is just not Riley’s vibe. Everyone else is squaded up—except Riley. Her best friend moved away. All she wants to do is draw, and her grades show it.
One thing that makes her happy is her favorite comedian, Joy Powers. Riley loves to watch her old shows and has memorized her best jokes. So when the class is assigned to write letters to people they admire, of course Riley’s picking Joy Powers!
Things start to look up when a classmate, Cate, offers to help Riley with the letter, and a new kid, Aaron, actually seems to get her weird sense of humor. But when mean girl Whitney spreads a rumor about her, things begin to click into place for Riley. Her curiosity about Aaron’s two dads and her celebrity crush on Joy Powers suddenly make more sense.
Readers will respond to Riley’s journey of self-discovery and will recognize themselves in this character who is less than perfect but trying her best. And creative kids will recognize themselves in her love of art and drawing.
While often funny and light, Riley’s exploration of what it feels to be an outsider and how hard it can be to make a friend break your heart in the best way. And with all of Riley’s hijinks and missteps, this story is laugh-out-loud funny from start to finish.
Rachel Elliott is an author-illustrator of comics and books for young people. Her debut middle grade graphic novel, THE REAL RILEY MAYES, was released in May of 2022. If you love secret codes, parallel cat universes, and dude-ish girls who act out humorous death scenes, you’ll want to read this book.
Rachel grew up queer during the 1980s in rural Oklahoma. She’s a big fan of baseball, tacos, cats, and comedians. She has worked as a volunteer “zooteen”, a plaster-caster, a crumpet baker, and a children’s museum grant writer. She now teaches first-year composition, multimedia writing, and writing comics at the University of Kentucky, as well as a variety of comic and zine workshops for kids and adults.