Never didactic, these poems interweave music, programming, family drama, and middle school as interconnected parts of Emmy’s...

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EMMY IN THE KEY OF CODE

A 12-year-old whose dreams of musicianship are shattered discovers a passion for code.

Emmy’s lonely at her new San Francisco school. When her pianist dad got a dream job at the symphony, the family moved from Wisconsin—her mom’s opera career is portable—but Emmy’s miserable. Devastated she doesn’t have the talent to follow in her parents’ footsteps, she ends up in computer club instead of choir. And it’s there, learning Java, that Emmy makes friends with Abigail—and discovers that coding gives her a joy she’d believed came only from music. Free-verse chapters are conventional at first, drawing poetic structures from musical metaphors. But as Emmy learns Java, the language and structure of programming seep into her poems. Music and code interweave (one poem presents Emmy and Abigail’s pair-programming as a musical duet). Typeface changes have myriad effects: showcasing software and musical terms, mirroring the way formatting helps programmers understand software, and reflecting Emmy’s emotional state. As she becomes more comfortable in her own skin, she grows aware of the many traumas that affect her family, classmates, and teachers, and readers will cheer to see them work collectively—like an orchestra or like software developers—to create something beautiful. Characters’ races are unspecified, but on the cover Emmy presents white and Abigail (whose braids are referred to repeatedly) as black.

Never didactic, these poems interweave music, programming, family drama, and middle school as interconnected parts of Emmy’s life. (glossary) (Verse fiction. 9-13)

Pub Date: Sept. 24, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-358-04082-8

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Versify/HMH

Review Posted Online: May 8, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2019

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An eminently satisfying story of family, recovery, and growing into manhood.

REBOUND

In this prequel to Newbery Award–winning The Crossover (2014), Alexander revisits previous themes and formats while exploring new ones.

For Charlie Bell, the future father of The Crossover’s Jordan and Josh, his father’s death alters his relationship with his mother and causes him to avoid what reminds him of his dad. At first, he’s just withdrawn, but after he steals from a neighbor, his mother packs a reluctant Charlie off to his grandparents near Washington, D.C., for the summer. His grandfather works part-time at a Boys and Girls Club where his cousin Roxie is a star basketball player. Despite his protests, she draws him into the game. His time with his grandparents deepens Charlie’s understanding of his father, and he begins to heal. “I feel / a little more normal, / like maybe he’s still here, / … in a / as long as I remember him / he’s still right here / in my heart / kind of way.” Once again, Alexander has given readers an African-American protagonist to cheer. He is surrounded by a strong supporting cast, especially two brilliant female characters, his friend CJ and his cousin Roxie, as well as his feisty and wise granddaddy. Music and cultural references from the late 1980s add authenticity. The novel in verse is enhanced by Anyabwile’s art, which reinforces Charlie’s love for comics.

An eminently satisfying story of family, recovery, and growing into manhood. (Historical verse fiction. 10-12)

Pub Date: April 2, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-544-86813-7

Page Count: 416

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: March 4, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2018

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Full of charm and moxie—don’t let this one roll past.

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ROLLER GIRL

One summer changes everything for two 12-year-old girls whose friendship is tested when their interests—and attitudes—diverge.

Astrid and Nicole have been BFFs truly forever. When the girls go to the roller derby one night, Astrid is immediately hooked and jumps at the chance to attend a roller-derby camp, skating alongside the tough, dyed girls. Nicole, however, who's passionate about ballet, decides not to follow along with Astrid, creating the first real rift the girls have known. The two quickly make new friends in their new circles: Astrid with her roller-derby cohorts and Nicole with the popular ballet crowd. As Astrid navigates the rough-and-tumble sport she’s fallen in love with (and the bumps and bruises that come with it), she must also deal with what happens when friends just stop being friends and grow apart. Jamieson captures this snapshot of preteen angst with a keenly decisive eye, brilliantly juxtaposing the nuances of roller derby with the twists and turns of adolescent girls' friendships. Clean, bright illustrations evince the familiar emotions and bring the pathos to life in a way that text alone could not. Fans of Raina Telgemeier or Jimmy Gownley's Amelia series should certainly skate on over to this gem.

Full of charm and moxie—don’t let this one roll past. (Graphic fiction. 9-13)

Pub Date: March 10, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-8037-4016-7

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Dial

Review Posted Online: Dec. 6, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2014

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