Steeped in violence (more implied than graphic) and poverty, but focused on love and hope.

SUMMER ON THE MOON

Meet Socrates, better known as Socko, on the first day of summer before his eighth-grade year, a summer that will change his life forever.

The musty walls of the dilapidated Kludge Apartments are marred by creepy-looking spiders: tags indicating that the building is the territory of the Tarantulas, a neighborhood gang headed up by a local thug called Rapp. Socko and his friend Damien make it their business to avoid the gang, putting off as long as possible the inevitable day that they will be forced to join. When Socko’s mom announces that they are moving to a house in Moon Ridge Estates, Socko is thankful for the escape but devastated that he cannot bring Damien with him. And when they arrive at the Estates—which is bereft of trees, grass and other people, nothing like the fancy brochures promised—and meet the curmudgeonly great-grandfather that they will be taking care of in exchange for housing, his hopes sink still further. Eventually, Socko meets Livvy and learns that her father owns the now-struggling housing development. At first, there seems to be no way to save it, and no way to help the folks that Socko and his mom have left behind in the old neighborhood, but with some creative thinking and generosity of spirit, miracles might just be possible. The third-person narration is tightly focused through Socko's perspective, adopting a gentle colloquial voice that complements the natural dialogue.

Steeped in violence (more implied than graphic) and poverty, but focused on love and hope. (Fiction. 9-12)

Pub Date: April 1, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-56145-626-0

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Peachtree

Review Posted Online: Feb. 15, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2012

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

NIGHTBIRD

There’s a monster in Sidwell, Massachusetts, that can only be seen at night or, as Twig reveals, if passersby are near her house.

It’s her older brother, James, born with wings just like every male in the Fowler line for the last 200 years. They were cursed by the Witch of Sidwell, left brokenhearted by their forebear Lowell Fowler. Twig and James are tired of the secret and self-imposed isolation. Lonely Twig narrates, bringing the small town and its characters to life, intertwining events present and past, and describing the effects of the spell on her fractured family’s daily life. Longing for some normalcy and companionship, she befriends new-neighbor Julia while James falls in love with Julia’s sister, Agate—only to learn they are descendants of the Witch. James and Agate seem as star-crossed as their ancestors, especially when the townspeople attribute a spate of petty thefts and graffiti protesting the development of the woods to the monster and launch a hunt. The mix of romance and magic is irresistible and the tension, compelling. With the help of friends and through a series of self-realizations and discoveries, Twig grows more self-assured. She is certain she knows how to change the curse. In so doing, Twig not only changes James’ fate, but her own, for the first time feeling the fullness of family, friends and hope for the future.

Enchanting. (Magical realism. 9-12)

Pub Date: March 10, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-385-38958-7

Page Count: 208

Publisher: Wendy Lamb/Random

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2015

Did you like this book?

Poet Alexander deftly reveals the power of the format to pack an emotional punch.

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • Kirkus Reviews'
    Best Books Of 2014

  • New York Times Bestseller

  • Newbery Medal Winner

THE CROSSOVER

Basketball-playing twins find challenges to their relationship on and off the court as they cope with changes in their lives.

Josh Bell and his twin, Jordan, aka JB, are stars of their school basketball team. They are also successful students, since their educator mother will stand for nothing else. As the two middle schoolers move to a successful season, readers can see their differences despite the sibling connection. After all, Josh has dreadlocks and is quiet on court, and JB is bald and a trash talker. Their love of the sport comes from their father, who had also excelled in the game, though his championship was achieved overseas. Now, however, he does not have a job and seems to have health problems the parents do not fully divulge to the boys. The twins experience their first major rift when JB is attracted to a new girl in their school, and Josh finds himself without his brother. This novel in verse is rich in character and relationships. Most interesting is the family dynamic that informs so much of the narrative, which always reveals, never tells. While Josh relates the story, readers get a full picture of major and minor players. The basketball action provides energy and rhythm for a moving story.

Poet Alexander deftly reveals the power of the format to pack an emotional punch. (Verse fiction. 9-12)

Pub Date: March 18, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-544-10771-7

Page Count: 240

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: Dec. 18, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2014

Did you like this book?

more