Gentle fun laced with equally gentle wisdom.

THE PRANK LIST

Almost-a-ninth-grader Rachel sees herself as a future pastry chef, but when she takes a baking class, she just can’t get it right.

Even worse, Rachel’s mom has a new house-cleaning business that isn’t going well since Rachel was falsely accused of stealing, and now they’ve got competition. If their business does not succeed, Rachel and her mom may have to sell their home and move away from Rachel’s friends. Romance also hovers on the edge for Rachel. She isn’t sure if she’s Evan’s official girlfriend or not, as he’s never asked her. However, Evan does appear to be jealous of Whit, a boy in Rachel’s cooking class, although Rachel keeps telling Evan that she doesn’t like Whit. Even with all those problems, Rachel determines to fight back against the rival Ladybug Cleaners, concocting pranks to drive them away, but everything she does seems to backfire. Staniszewski keeps the focus on comedy with the cooking-class scenes (Rachel is an overconfident baker), but she lets her story become a bit more serious with the pranks Rachel plays. Clearly, Rachel will learn a few life lessons as she stumbles through her summer, but they go down easy in this narrative peppered with such amusing catchphrases as “Oh my goldfish” and “What the Shrek?”

Gentle fun laced with equally gentle wisdom. (Fiction. 10-14)

Pub Date: July 1, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4022-8639-1

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Sourcebooks Jabberwocky

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2014

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An engrossing, humorous, and vitally important graphic novel that should be required reading in every middle school in...

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NEW KID

From the New Kid series , Vol. 1

Jordan Banks takes readers down the rabbit hole and into his mostly white prep school in this heartbreakingly accurate middle-grade tale of race, class, microaggressions, and the quest for self-identity.

He may be the new kid, but as an African-American boy from Washington Heights, that stigma entails so much more than getting lost on the way to homeroom. Riverdale Academy Day School, located at the opposite end of Manhattan, is a world away, and Jordan finds himself a stranger in a foreign land, where pink clothing is called salmon, white administrators mistake a veteran African-American teacher for the football coach, and white classmates ape African-American Vernacular English to make themselves sound cool. Jordan’s a gifted artist, and his drawings blend with the narrative to give readers a full sense of his two worlds and his methods of coping with existing in between. Craft skillfully employs the graphic-novel format to its full advantage, giving his readers a delightful and authentic cast of characters who, along with New York itself, pop off the page with vibrancy and nuance. Shrinking Jordan to ant-sized proportions upon his entering the school cafeteria, for instance, transforms the lunchroom into a grotesque Wonderland in which his lack of social standing becomes visually arresting and viscerally uncomfortable.

An engrossing, humorous, and vitally important graphic novel that should be required reading in every middle school in America. (Graphic fiction. 10-14)

Pub Date: Feb. 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-06-269120-0

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Oct. 15, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2018

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An endearing protagonist runs the first, fast leg of Reynolds' promising relay.

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GHOST

From the Track series , Vol. 1

Castle “Ghost” Cranshaw feels like he’s been running ever since his dad pulled that gun on him and his mom—and used it.

His dad’s been in jail three years now, but Ghost still feels the trauma, which is probably at the root of the many “altercations” he gets into at middle school. When he inserts himself into a practice for a local elite track team, the Defenders, he’s fast enough that the hard-as-nails coach decides to put him on the team. Ghost is surprised to find himself caring enough about being on the team that he curbs his behavior to avoid “altercations.” But Ma doesn’t have money to spare on things like fancy running shoes, so Ghost shoplifts a pair that make his feet feel impossibly light—and his conscience correspondingly heavy. Ghost’s narration is candid and colloquial, reminiscent of such original voices as Bud Caldwell and Joey Pigza; his level of self-understanding is both believably childlike and disarming in its perception. He is self-focused enough that secondary characters initially feel one-dimensional, Coach in particular, but as he gets to know them better, so do readers, in a way that unfolds naturally and pleasingly. His three fellow “newbies” on the Defenders await their turns to star in subsequent series outings. Characters are black by default; those few white people in Ghost’s world are described as such.

An endearing protagonist runs the first, fast leg of Reynolds' promising relay. (Fiction. 10-14)

Pub Date: Aug. 30, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-4814-5015-7

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Caitlyn Dlouhy/Atheneum

Review Posted Online: July 20, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2016

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