Review / Ways to Make Sunshine

20210620ma_1301Book: Ways to Make Sunshine (2020)
Author: Renee Watson
Genre: Lower MG, Contemporary

Basic plot: Ryan Hart is a girl with a name that means ‘king’. And her family is always telling her to live up to that name. But it’s hard when you have a fear of public speaking. But Ryan’s a plucky kid and she’s going to try. Well, maybe not the public speaking bit, but she’ll make up for that!

Opening lines from the book …
I am a girl with a name that a lot of boys have. So when the substitute teacher takes roll and calls out, “Ryan?” she looks surprised when I answer.


1) Ryan Hart is such a wonderful, plucky protagonist. She knows what she likes and she’s not some shy violet. I loved that about her. And she really is out to make sunshine…

2) I loved her family. Her brother is a typical, teasing older brother, but they can get along too. Her parents are wonderful. And her grandmother who spends hours straightening Ryan’s hair!

3) The story with regards to Ryan’s hair is hilarious! I love how it starts in the one chapter (before the big Easter service) and then extends to the next story with the sleepover. Poor Ryan! I don’t have the hair issues that Ryan has, but I can understand how hard it is to stand by when that one girl (named Red) keeps provoking and poking.

4) The chapter where Ryan and her friend “make sunshine” is really fun. I love her creativity.

5) I did enjoy the whole public speaking storyline. It starts with the preparation and failure at the Easter service. By the end of the book, you know Ryan is going to have to do something to face that fear, right?


1) It wasn’t until something like the fourth chapter until I realized that Ryan is in fourth grade, something that had me very confused for the first few chapters. From the cover (i.e. from the way Ryan is dressed), I assumed she was in sixth or seventh grade, but in those opening chapters, she definitely acted a younger. Like a fourth grader. Of course, once it’s revealed that she’s nine years old, it made a whole lot more sense.


What a fun story! It’s been compared to Ramona Quimby, which is good. I do love Ryan’s enthusiasm and her loving family…



Have you read this book? What are your thoughts? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments!

Note: I’m posting this for Greg Pattridge’s Marvelous Middle-Grade Monday


7 thoughts on “Review / Ways to Make Sunshine

  1. I have this on my list to read. Your thoughts have moved it right to the top. Such a great, strong character and the honest portrayal should entice a lot of new readers. Thanks for featuring on MMGM.


  2. I’ve seen so many people enjoying this book and its sequel, and you make it sound great! Ryan’s fear of public speaking sounds quite relatable, and she sounds like a fun protagonist! Thanks so much for the great review!


  3. Another fun story for emerging readers. I can relate to the public speaking, so I’m intrigued with how she handles the situation. These stories are so important for children. Enjoyed your review!


  4. I love that Ryan seems to have such a great family and gets along with her brother. That’s rare in MG books. I think I will have to find a copy of this one. It’s definitely going on my list. Thanks for telling me about it.


  5. Pingback: Review / Ways to Grow Love | Of Maria Antonia

  6. Pingback: My Top Reads… from 2021 | Of Maria Antonia

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s