Written in verse, this slim, rhythmic novel for reluctant readers vividly evokes a teen boy’s struggle with...

WHAT IF?

Drumming is the only thing that relieves 16-year-old Joshua from his counting rituals.

Joshua’s secret is that he feels trapped by his mind. The pattern and percussion of drumming help pause the relentless notion that if he doesn’t do what his thoughts compel him to do, the people he cares about will come to harm. Joshua, who is white, is entering a new high school as a 10th-grader, and no one knows that he’s late for classes because he has to do his locker combination while simultaneously counting to 100 or that he can’t concentrate on schoolwork because he must count every crack in the ceiling. Then he meets Mage, a stellar student with “deep brown skin,” hair in braids, and a penchant for the word “magic.” Together with Joshua’s sister, Julia, they form a band for the upcoming talent show. Things brighten even further after his therapist explains that Joshua’s condition is called obsessive-compulsive disorder and then prescribes medication and talk therapy. Even still, his father is skeptical, “Now that you know, / can’t you just…stop?” It’s this miscomprehension that leads Joshua’s father to take some potentially damaging action. This is a captivating story that will capture teens’ imaginations.

Written in verse, this slim, rhythmic novel for reluctant readers vividly evokes a teen boy’s struggle with obsessive-compulsive disorder. (Verse novel. 12-17)

Pub Date: Dec. 1, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5383-8258-5

Page Count: 200

Publisher: West 44 Books

Review Posted Online: Sept. 30, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2018

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Not quite the wild ride of Skyward (2018) but still great fun.

STARSIGHT

From the Skyward series , Vol. 2

As if the threat of huge, raging monsters from hyperspace isn’t scary enough, hotshot fighter pilot Spensa Nightshade becomes embroiled in an alien empire’s politics.

On a desperate mission to steal hyperdrive technology from the crablike invading Krell who are threatening to destroy her beleaguered home colony on Detritus, Spensa, who is white, holographically disguises herself as a violet-skinned UrDail and slips into a Krell pilot training program for “lesser species.” The discovery that she’s being secretly trained not to fight planet-destroying delvers but to exterminate humans, who are (with some justification, having kindled three interstellar wars in past centuries) regarded in certain quarters as an irrationally aggressive species, is just one in a string of revelations as, in between numerous near-death experiences on practice flights, she struggles to understand both her own eerie abilities and the strange multispecies society in which she finds herself. There are so many characters besides Spensa searching for self-identity—notably her comic-relief sidekick AI M-Bot, troubled human friend Jorgen back on Detritus, and Morriumur, member of a species whose color-marked sexes create trial offspring—that even with a plot that defaults to hot action and escalating intrigue the pacing has a stop and start quality. Still, Spensa’s habitual over-the-top recklessness adds a rousing spark, and the author folds in plenty of banter as well as a colorful supporting cast.

Not quite the wild ride of Skyward (2018) but still great fun. (Science fiction. 12-15)

Pub Date: Nov. 26, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-399-55581-7

Page Count: 480

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: Oct. 13, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2019

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For princess fans and lovers of fairy tales.

COLD HEARTED

A TALE OF THE WICKED STEPMOTHER

From the Villains series

How did Cinderella’s stepmother come to be so wicked?

She may have been self-focused, but at least she wasn’t always so cruel. Lady Tremaine, mother of two spoiled daughters, is a lonely widow hoping for a bit of happiness. Unfortunately, when Sir Richard appears at her friend’s house party, she’s swept off her feet and fails to heed the frantic warnings of her dedicated, elderly lady’s maid. Had she ever bothered to read the book of fairy tales her late husband purchased years before, she might have recognized the perils of assuming the role of stepmother. Entranced by Sir Richard, she agrees to a hasty marriage and a move to the Many Kingdoms, where he reverts to his true, domineering nature and she and her daughters become virtual prisoners in his home. Although the Odd Sisters—clever, manipulative witches—try to intervene on her behalf, it seems her fate is already written; she becomes as cruel and demented as the story described. However, Cinderella’s Fairy Godmother and her sister, Nanny, have plans to rescue Lady Tremaine’s daughters as they develop much-needed, rehabilitative insights into the family’s dynamics. Mostly told from the Lady’s shallow, self-centered perspective, this is an entertaining retelling of the Disney “Cinderella” story from a different viewpoint, with references to the rest of the series woven throughout. Characters follow a White default.

For princess fans and lovers of fairy tales. (Fiction. 12-16)

Pub Date: June 29, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-368-02528-7

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion

Review Posted Online: April 27, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2021

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