Punchy, electric, and smart social commentary.

This spirited coming-of-age story brings menstruation and period equity to the fore.

When mischievous and self-involved eighth graders Helen and Gracie’s big end-of-middle-school prank backfires, their fed-up principal delivers a surprisingly restorative punishment: “I am sentencing you to care.” The two BFFs have the month before summer break to “accomplish something that matters to the school.” Helen and Gracie join the Community Action Club, whose members are working to have free menstrual products available in every school bathroom. The chapters, alternately told from Helen’s and Gracie’s first-person points of view, depict their growth out of codependency and toward independence and empathy as their commitment, understanding, and care for the project increase. Secondary characters, including a villainous school board member, sympathetic family members, cliquey classmates, and swoony crushes, are entertainingly portrayed. The dialogue is quick-moving and hilarious, but the pun-filled jokes can verge on corny and repetitive. There are reflections on family, gender, and social class, but there’s less emphasis on racial equity (Gracie and Helen are cued white). When the project goals are in crisis, and the club members really need to be heard, the girls’ previous antics cause others to doubt them and their motivations. This is when they candidly learn lessons about allyship, strategy, disappointment, and the complex decision-making processes and compromises that can accompany collective action.

Punchy, electric, and smart social commentary. (Fiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: March 5, 2024

ISBN: 9781338835830

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Dec. 16, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2024


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


Telgemeier’s bold colors, superior visual storytelling, and unusual subject matter will keep readers emotionally engaged and...

Catrina narrates the story of her mixed-race (Latino/white) family’s move from Southern California to Bahía de la Luna on the Northern California coast.

Dad has a new job, but it’s little sister Maya’s lungs that motivate the move: she has had cystic fibrosis since birth—a degenerative breathing condition. Despite her health, Maya loves adventure, even if her lungs suffer for it and even when Cat must follow to keep her safe. When Carlos, a tall, brown, and handsome teen Ghost Tour guide introduces the sisters to the Bahía ghosts—most of whom were Spanish-speaking Mexicans when alive—they fascinate Maya and she them, but the terrified Cat wants only to get herself and Maya back to safety. When the ghost adventure leads to Maya’s hospitalization, Cat blames both herself and Carlos, which makes seeing him at school difficult. As Cat awakens to the meaning of Halloween and Day of the Dead in this strange new home, she comes to understand the importance of the ghosts both to herself and to Maya. Telgemeier neatly balances enough issues that a lesser artist would split them into separate stories and delivers as much delight textually as visually. The backmatter includes snippets from Telgemeier’s sketchbook and a photo of her in Día makeup.

Telgemeier’s bold colors, superior visual storytelling, and unusual subject matter will keep readers emotionally engaged and unable to put down this compelling tale. (Graphic fiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: Sept. 13, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-545-54061-2

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: July 1, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2016

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