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Empathetic and emotionally intelligent.

Big feelings are uncomfortable but to be expected in this story of finding joy and community amid change and loss.

With her best friend, Mia Ortega-Anderson, moving across the country to New York, Chinese American Ruby Chu was already afraid of seventh grade, but nothing prepared her for another close friend drifting away and the unexpected death of her beloved paternal grandfather. After Ruby’s caught ditching school, her parents decide she’ll spend summer weekdays with Nai-Nai, her paternal grandmother. At first reluctant to stay somewhere her grandfather is noticeably absent, Ruby’s walls lower as she and Nai-Nai speak openly about their grief. As Ruby begins to open up and find a comfortable routine, more big changes threaten her fragile sense of safety. When a family friend’s bakery is poised for closure, Ruby and classmate Liam Yeung set out to save it. The San Francisco Chinatown community is realistically presented: Mandarin and Cantonese are spoken, not every older adult is an immigrant, and a variety of professions and experiences are portrayed. It’s unclear if impulsive, restless Ruby, who struggles in school, is neurodiverse or just stands out compared to the rest of her driven, focused family. Readers will identify with Ruby’s roller coaster of emotions amid the challenges of growing up: loved ones leaving, friendships waning, and fitting into the world authentically. Ruby is incredibly self-aware, and her emotions are given space and validity without excusing harm done.

Empathetic and emotionally intelligent. (Fiction. 9-13)

Pub Date: May 16, 2023

ISBN: 9780063008939

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Quill Tree Books/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: March 13, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2023

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From the School for Good and Evil series , Vol. 1

Rich and strange (and kitted out with an eye-catching cover), but stronger in the set pieces than the internal logic.

Chainani works an elaborate sea change akin to Gregory Maguire’s Wicked (1995), though he leaves the waters muddied.

Every four years, two children, one regarded as particularly nice and the other particularly nasty, are snatched from the village of Gavaldon by the shadowy School Master to attend the divided titular school. Those who survive to graduate become major or minor characters in fairy tales. When it happens to sweet, Disney princess–like Sophie and  her friend Agatha, plain of features, sour of disposition and low of self-esteem, they are both horrified to discover that they’ve been dropped not where they expect but at Evil and at Good respectively. Gradually—too gradually, as the author strings out hundreds of pages of Hogwarts-style pranks, classroom mishaps and competitions both academic and romantic—it becomes clear that the placement wasn’t a mistake at all. Growing into their true natures amid revelations and marked physical changes, the two spark escalating rivalry between the wings of the school. This leads up to a vicious climactic fight that sees Good and Evil repeatedly switching sides. At this point, readers are likely to feel suddenly left behind, as, thanks to summary deus ex machina resolutions, everything turns out swell(ish).

Rich and strange (and kitted out with an eye-catching cover), but stronger in the set pieces than the internal logic. (Fantasy. 11-13)

Pub Date: May 14, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-06-210489-2

Page Count: 496

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Feb. 12, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2013

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Glitzy glimpses of life on the make, lightened by a focus on alternatives rather than consequences.

A con man’s son yearns for a different way of life.

Having helped his single dad fleece wealthy marks since kindergarten, Trey is adept at spotting their rich offspring in each new school he attends and cultivating them until the time comes for a quick getaway. Now that he’s 12, though, the urge to make real friends and put down some roots has become insistent—particularly since he’s drawn to Kaylee, a new classmate in his latest middle school. How can he convince his dad, who’s in the midst of luring local investors into a fantastically lucrative scheme involving a fictive electric car, that it’s time to bag the family profession and settle down? Korman goes more for ironic humor than the physical or stand-up sort in this book, as shown by Trey’s enrollment in an ethics class that forces him into some decidedly hypocritical stances. Much like Trey himself, instant new bestie Logan and his parents turn out to be not at all who they seem. And though there are no bullies or real baddies in the cast on the way to the story’s rosy but implausible resolution, Trey’s malign, high-strung, and wildly reckless huckster of a little sister from hell definitely adds both conflict and suspense to this provocative outing. Main characters read white.

Glitzy glimpses of life on the make, lightened by a focus on alternatives rather than consequences. (Fiction. 9-12)

Pub Date: July 2, 2024

ISBN: 9781338826753

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: April 5, 2024

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2024

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