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TAKING UP SPACE

Pragmatic and valuable.

Navigating adolescence isn’t a piece of cake.

Dorito-loving seventh grader Sarah Weber is a standout basketball player on her team even though she’s had some bad practices lately. Thanks to puberty, her body keeps changing, and, on top of recent awkwardness in her relationships, she feels overwhelmed by this. Another thing she doesn’t have control over is her household food situation: Sarah’s mom is controlling about food, sometimes forgets to feed her dinner, and what little there is to eat in their kitchen is restricted to things she deems acceptable. Sarah’s dad works long hours and doesn’t seem to notice what’s going on. In an effort to help her game and gain back some control, Sarah begins to obsessively monitor her food intake. Thankfully, her friends and coach advocate for healthy, intuitive ways of eating, and they help Sarah address her disordered eating. The book surrounds the protagonist with a determined support system and does not place blame in a simplistic way. Gerber constructs a straightforward structure: A health problem becomes known, a solution is proposed, and then it works. Although real life is rarely so neat and tidy, the book supplies a positive representation of constructive approaches to an often misunderstood condition. Authentic basketball scenes and Sarah’s developing crush on Benny, her health class partner who later becomes her teammate in a cooking competition, round out the story. Sarah is presumed White; Benny is Persian.

Pragmatic and valuable. (Fiction. 9-13)

Pub Date: May 18, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-338-18600-0

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: March 15, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2021

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HOLES

Good Guys and Bad get just deserts in the end, and Stanley gets plenty of opportunities to display pluck and valor in this...

Sentenced to a brutal juvenile detention camp for a crime he didn't commit, a wimpy teenager turns four generations of bad family luck around in this sunburnt tale of courage, obsession, and buried treasure from Sachar (Wayside School Gets a Little Stranger, 1995, etc.).

Driven mad by the murder of her black beau, a schoolteacher turns on the once-friendly, verdant town of Green Lake, Texas, becomes feared bandit Kissin' Kate Barlow, and dies, laughing, without revealing where she buried her stash. A century of rainless years later, lake and town are memories—but, with the involuntary help of gangs of juvenile offenders, the last descendant of the last residents is still digging. Enter Stanley Yelnats IV, great-grandson of one of Kissin' Kate's victims and the latest to fall to the family curse of being in the wrong place at the wrong time; under the direction of The Warden, a woman with rattlesnake venom polish on her long nails, Stanley and each of his fellow inmates dig a hole a day in the rock-hard lake bed. Weeks of punishing labor later, Stanley digs up a clue, but is canny enough to conceal the information of which hole it came from. Through flashbacks, Sachar weaves a complex net of hidden relationships and well-timed revelations as he puts his slightly larger-than-life characters under a sun so punishing that readers will be reaching for water bottles.

Good Guys and Bad get just deserts in the end, and Stanley gets plenty of opportunities to display pluck and valor in this rugged, engrossing adventure. (Fiction. 9-13)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1998

ISBN: 978-0-374-33265-5

Page Count: 233

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2000

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THE SCHOOL FOR GOOD AND EVIL

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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