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MASCOT

This funny, if flawed, baseball-infused tale highlights the challenges of adapting to puberty and sudden disability at the...

Last April Noah was a Little League catcher on a strong team—five months and one devastating car accident later, the seventh-grader’s fatherless, bitter, and sidelined in a wheelchair.

How do you relate to the teachers and kids who saw you as an athlete now that your spinal cord injury prevents you from controlling basic bodily functions? Former rival Logan, the coach’s son and team’s ace pitcher, now ridicules Noah. Only his friendship with Alyssa remains unchanged until new student Dee-Dub (short for Double-Wide) arrives. It’s refreshing to hang with someone who knows him only post-accident, though Dee-Dub has issues; he’s exceptionally bright but has a hard time with social cues (he presents as if he’s on the spectrum, but no diagnosis is mentioned). Noah’s resistance to physical therapy worries his mom. Her friendship with snarky fourth-grader Makayla’s dad upsets Noah. Wise adults, including a neighbor estranged from his own children, and wise kids like Dynamo, a younger PT patient, help Noah move from “mascot” to active participant in life. (The book hints at ethnic markers in names and hairstyles but otherwise adheres to the white default.) The surfeit of plotlines and themes prevents in-depth treatment, and superprecocious Makayla and Dynamo are unconvincing, but droll, sympathetic Noah keeps it real. His dilemma is universal: the struggle to rebuild identity when what once defined us no longer exists.

This funny, if flawed, baseball-infused tale highlights the challenges of adapting to puberty and sudden disability at the same time. (Fiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: Sept. 11, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-06-283562-8

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: June 10, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2018

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CHARLOTTE'S WEB

The three way chats, in which they are joined by other animals, about web spinning, themselves, other humans—are as often...

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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

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  • Coretta Scott King Book Award Winner


  • National Book Award Winner


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BROWN GIRL DREAMING

For every dreaming girl (and boy) with a pencil in hand (or keyboard) and a story to share. (Memoir/poetry. 8-12)

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A multiaward–winning author recalls her childhood and the joy of becoming a writer.

Writing in free verse, Woodson starts with her 1963 birth in Ohio during the civil rights movement, when America is “a country caught / / between Black and White.” But while evoking names such as Malcolm, Martin, James, Rosa and Ruby, her story is also one of family: her father’s people in Ohio and her mother’s people in South Carolina. Moving south to live with her maternal grandmother, she is in a world of sweet peas and collards, getting her hair straightened and avoiding segregated stores with her grandmother. As the writer inside slowly grows, she listens to family stories and fills her days and evenings as a Jehovah’s Witness, activities that continue after a move to Brooklyn to reunite with her mother. The gift of a composition notebook, the experience of reading John Steptoe’s Stevie and Langston Hughes’ poetry, and seeing letters turn into words and words into thoughts all reinforce her conviction that “[W]ords are my brilliance.” Woodson cherishes her memories and shares them with a graceful lyricism; her lovingly wrought vignettes of country and city streets will linger long after the page is turned.

For every dreaming girl (and boy) with a pencil in hand (or keyboard) and a story to share. (Memoir/poetry. 8-12)

Pub Date: Aug. 28, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-399-25251-8

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Nancy Paulsen Books

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2014

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