“And when she giggles 

I see the brownie 

stuck to her teeth

and it looks so sweet 

and gross 

my insides get warm 

and melty, 

a gross undercooked brownie 

of their own.”

9781452172880To be honest, I had no idea Redwood & Ponytail was written in poetry until I cracked it open. And thankfully, it was a very good surprise. K.A. Holt is not only a wonderful poet but a fantastic storyteller overall. The writing was seamless, easily leaping from plot to emotion stanza to stanza. I also appreciated the simplicity of her words, as it gave them a juvenility that was appropriate for both the characters’ voices and the overall tone.

The dialogue in Redwood & Ponytail is incredibly real and relatable, especially when considering the fact it’s all woven into poetry. (no quotation marks!) Each of the girls and their supporting cast felt multi-dimensional and raw, which is refreshing for a middle-grade/YA novel. The conversation between the three “narrators” (Fates? Nosy students? Gods?) was differently entertaining, not entirely necessary but none the less interesting.

K.A. Holt uses description without being obnoxious, giving the right amount of details without becoming annoying poetic. I could see everything nice and clear, and never got confused about characters or locations, which was extremely nice. The world of Redwood & Ponytail felt very familiar, which was probably the point. I cannot get over how relatable, though possibly a little stereotypical, the characters were.

Overall, Redwood & Ponytail is a brilliant (as in bright) novel from an incredibly gifted author. The story, while not always being super exciting, was enjoyable and kind, which is all I need from a book nowadays. This shortish and certainly sweet book is perfect for those looking for a different kind of middle grade/YA novel and for those who aren’t looking for it, because they really should be.

Rating: five Muppet voices/five

For fans of: Ivy Aberdeen’s Letter to the World by Ashley Herring Blake, I Felt a Funeral, In My Brain by Wil Walton, Star-Crossed by Barbara Dee

Favorite quotes:


“She laughs



and it makes me feel

light and bright.

I would do anything,

say anything

to hear her laugh

all night.”


“And everything smells good. 


Like love and books and 

people and family. 

Like dinner and plants 

and cats 




“It makes me think that 


if something feels 

so perfectly right like this, 

if the universe can hold us 

in its hands like this, 

then of course nothing’s weird

 or wrong 

or different.”

Review by: Ivy

Come meet author K.A. Holt at BookPeople on Monday, October 7th! She’ll be talking all things Redwood & Ponytail starting at 7 pm. Event details