A sparkling paean to the stories we tell—plain and embroidered, fantastical, amazing, true—that get us through the night.

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MERROW

Neen was almost 3 when her mother, Ven, disappeared, but a decade later she still has more questions than answers; grim Auntie Ushag’s tight-lipped, but some say Ven had merrow blood and returned to the sea.

Carrick’s inhabitants have endured famines and Viking raiders. With the millennium approaching, proselytizing Christians preach redemption along with terrifying warnings of what will befall those who remain pagan. Some islanders, such as Ma Slevin and her blind son, Scully, hedge their bets and hang onto the old faith, too, with its rich tapestry of myth and folklore about Others and merrows. Despite their prickly relationship, Neen and Ushag share the hard labor of fishing, hunting, cleaning their catch, curing hides. They make and mend nets, gather honey and beeswax, scavenge beaches for wooden spars, rusty bolts, and occasional treasures from shipwrecks, all described with poetic precision. Restless, Neen pesters Ushag for answers—what was her mother like? “Just like you,” she’s told, which only deepens the mystery. Neen too loves the sea; like Ven’s, her skin gets scaly in the summer heat. As storms and earthquakes reshape the island, Neen recounts her quest for proof of her mother’s nature and therefore her own. Though she sprinkles her account with Manx, Neen’s no tour guide to the Middle Ages but an authentic Everyteen whose hard, beautiful world readers will recognize.

A sparkling paean to the stories we tell—plain and embroidered, fantastical, amazing, true—that get us through the night. (Historical fiction. 14-18)

Pub Date: Nov. 8, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-7636-7924-8

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: Aug. 2, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2016

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A clever, hilarious, and empathetic look at diverse teens exploring authenticity, identities, and code-switching.

SUPER FAKE LOVE SONG

Fake it till you make it?

Unlike Gray, his aspiring rock star older brother, camera-shy Korean American teen Sunny Dae loves sharing his nerdy hobbies of live-action role-playing Dungeons & Dragons and designing cosplay props with his best friends, Milo and Jamal, despite the bullying he receives from a school jock. Milo is Guatemalan American and Jamal is Jamaican American, and the trio have bonded in their Southern California town that is over 99% White. Then Sunny meets Rancho Ruby High School’s newest student, the beautiful, worldly, music-loving, Korean American Cirrus Soh. Soon, he finds himself doing things he’s never done before, like pretending his brother’s band is actually his. Yoon captures the humor, the heart, and the universal anxieties—and possibilities—of trying on new identities in high school while also exploring microaggressions, toxic masculinity, bullying, parachute parenting, and classism. The book cautions readers against judging character based solely on outward appearances. Part of its brilliance lies in how it shows the ways Sunny’s and Gray’s desires for acceptance and popularity reflect what they see as their parents’ own efforts to keep up with the Joneses. Dungeons & Dragons fans will appreciate the symbolic parallels between Sunny’s story arc and the fate of the paladin figurine he made in middle school.

A clever, hilarious, and empathetic look at diverse teens exploring authenticity, identities, and code-switching. (Fiction. 14-18)

Pub Date: Nov. 17, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-984812-23-0

Page Count: 308

Publisher: Penguin Young Readers

Review Posted Online: Aug. 28, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2020

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Immersive and engaging, despite some flaws, and destined to capture imaginations.

CARAVAL

From the Caraval series , Vol. 1

Magic, mystery, and love intertwine and invite in this newest take on the “enchanted circus” trope.

Sisters raised by their abusive father, a governor of a colonial backwater in a world vaguely reminiscent of the late 18th century, Scarlett and Donatella each long for something more. Scarlett, olive-skinned, dark of hair and attitude, longs for Caraval, the fabled, magical circus helmed by the possibly evil Master Legend Santos, while blonde, sunny Tella finds comfort in drink and the embraces of various men. A slightly awkward start, with inconsistencies of attitude and setting, rapidly smooths out when they, along with handsome “golden-brown” sailor Julian, flee to Caraval on the eve of Scarlett’s arranged marriage. Tella disappears, and Scarlett must navigate a nighttime world of magic to find her. Caraval delights the senses: beautiful and scary, described in luscious prose, this is a show readers will wish they could enter. Dresses can be purchased for secrets or days of life; clocks can become doors; bridges move: this is an inventive and original circus, laced with an edge of horror. A double love story, one sensual romance and the other sisterly loyalty, anchors the plot, but the real star here is Caraval and its secrets.

Immersive and engaging, despite some flaws, and destined to capture imaginations. (Fantasy. 14 & up)

Pub Date: Jan. 31, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-250-09525-1

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Flatiron Books

Review Posted Online: Sept. 19, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2016

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