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A FRIGHT TO REMEMBER

From the Monster High School Spirits series , Vol. 1

Satisfying and substantial.

At an all-monster school, a new student struggles with identity.

Frankie Stein (who uses they/them pronouns) may look around the same age as the other students at Monster High, but they were actually only pieced together by their loving and supportive parents one month ago. The parts making up Frankie’s brain came from monsters gifted in STEM subjects, and they’re incredibly intelligent and also very literal—Frankie has a tough time with idioms. An upcoming schoolwide talent show puts Frankie on the radar of mean-girl werecat Toralei, who expresses her jealousy through nasty EekTok videos after overhearing a shocking secret about the source of one of Frankie’s brain parts. Frankie is then plunged into an unexpected journey of self-discovery as they explore not only their past but also the choices of their parents and the history of the school. Cuevas’ series opener is deftly constructed for the middle-grade crowd, examining friendship, bullies, and the power of stories. For those unacquainted with Mattel’s Monster High franchise, this volume is an excellent jumping-in point, making enough introductions to the characters and the world’s specific parlance; for those who dismiss commercial tie-ins, this well-crafted volume will get them to reconsider that stance. With its cinematic pacing and contemporary slant told through a fantasy lens, expect readers of series such as Percy Jackson to find much to enjoy here.

Satisfying and substantial. (Fantasy. 8-12)

Pub Date: Oct. 31, 2023

ISBN: 9781419769863

Page Count: 248

Publisher: Amulet/Abrams

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2023

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CHARLOTTE'S WEB

The three way chats, in which they are joined by other animals, about web spinning, themselves, other humans—are as often...

A successful juvenile by the beloved New Yorker writer portrays a farm episode with an imaginative twist that makes a poignant, humorous story of a pig, a spider and a little girl.

Young Fern Arable pleads for the life of runt piglet Wilbur and gets her father to sell him to a neighbor, Mr. Zuckerman. Daily, Fern visits the Zuckermans to sit and muse with Wilbur and with the clever pen spider Charlotte, who befriends him when he is lonely and downcast. At the news of Wilbur's forthcoming slaughter, campaigning Charlotte, to the astonishment of people for miles around, spins words in her web. "Some Pig" comes first. Then "Terrific"—then "Radiant". The last word, when Wilbur is about to win a show prize and Charlotte is about to die from building her egg sac, is "Humble". And as the wonderful Charlotte does die, the sadness is tempered by the promise of more spiders next spring.

The three way chats, in which they are joined by other animals, about web spinning, themselves, other humans—are as often informative as amusing, and the whole tenor of appealing wit and pathos will make fine entertainment for reading aloud, too.

Pub Date: Oct. 15, 1952

ISBN: 978-0-06-026385-0

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Sept. 14, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 1952

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BROWN GIRL DREAMING

For every dreaming girl (and boy) with a pencil in hand (or keyboard) and a story to share. (Memoir/poetry. 8-12)

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  • Newbery Honor Book

A multiaward–winning author recalls her childhood and the joy of becoming a writer.

Writing in free verse, Woodson starts with her 1963 birth in Ohio during the civil rights movement, when America is “a country caught / / between Black and White.” But while evoking names such as Malcolm, Martin, James, Rosa and Ruby, her story is also one of family: her father’s people in Ohio and her mother’s people in South Carolina. Moving south to live with her maternal grandmother, she is in a world of sweet peas and collards, getting her hair straightened and avoiding segregated stores with her grandmother. As the writer inside slowly grows, she listens to family stories and fills her days and evenings as a Jehovah’s Witness, activities that continue after a move to Brooklyn to reunite with her mother. The gift of a composition notebook, the experience of reading John Steptoe’s Stevie and Langston Hughes’ poetry, and seeing letters turn into words and words into thoughts all reinforce her conviction that “[W]ords are my brilliance.” Woodson cherishes her memories and shares them with a graceful lyricism; her lovingly wrought vignettes of country and city streets will linger long after the page is turned.

For every dreaming girl (and boy) with a pencil in hand (or keyboard) and a story to share. (Memoir/poetry. 8-12)

Pub Date: Aug. 28, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-399-25251-8

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Nancy Paulsen Books

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2014

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