Review: Ways to Make Sunshine

Book Title: Ways to Make Sunshine (available here)

Author: Renée Watson

Illustrator: Mechal Roe

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Publication Date: July 2020

Most Suitable For: KS2

Reviewed By: Gabrielle McConalogue

Ways to Make Sunshine is the uplifting story of a young girl and her loving family, dealing with the ups and downs of life in our modern world.

Ryan Hart lives with her parents and brother in Oregon, USA. Her life is going through some changes: her dad lost his job and now has to work nights; the family have to move to a much smaller house and they have to sell their second car. As well as this, Ryan has to navigate the usual concerns of a young girl – an annoying brother, public speaking at the Easter church service, sleepovers, unruly hair and talent shows.

The story is told from Ryan’s point of view and it’s easy to appreciate her optimistic attitude and sunny outlook. For example, her name, Ryan, she tells the reader, is not a boy’s name, it is her name, which means ‘king’ and shows that she should be a leader – as her father frequently reminds her: “Be who we named you be.” She always finds the positive (or sunshine!) in every situation, no matter how frustrating, annoying or embarrassing.

The characters are beautifully portrayed, representing the culture, identity, family and friendship groups in which they belong. They are a black family growing up in middle class America and confronting every-day problems with humour and heart. The line-drawn illustrations are cute and amusing, further developing characters and situations.

Ways to Make Sunshine is a fun and heart-warming story of love and families, easy to identify with and enjoy.


You can order Ways to Make Sunshine online or from your local bookshop.

Many thanks to the publisher for sending us a review copy of this book and to Review Panel member Gabrielle for reviewing it.

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