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

MASCOT

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 11, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2018

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Telgemeier’s bold colors, superior visual storytelling, and unusual subject matter will keep readers emotionally engaged and...

GHOSTS

Catrina narrates the story of her mixed-race (Latino/white) family’s move from Southern California to Bahía de la Luna on the Northern California coast.

Dad has a new job, but it’s little sister Maya’s lungs that motivate the move: she has had cystic fibrosis since birth—a degenerative breathing condition. Despite her health, Maya loves adventure, even if her lungs suffer for it and even when Cat must follow to keep her safe. When Carlos, a tall, brown, and handsome teen Ghost Tour guide introduces the sisters to the Bahía ghosts—most of whom were Spanish-speaking Mexicans when alive—they fascinate Maya and she them, but the terrified Cat wants only to get herself and Maya back to safety. When the ghost adventure leads to Maya’s hospitalization, Cat blames both herself and Carlos, which makes seeing him at school difficult. As Cat awakens to the meaning of Halloween and Day of the Dead in this strange new home, she comes to understand the importance of the ghosts both to herself and to Maya. Telgemeier neatly balances enough issues that a lesser artist would split them into separate stories and delivers as much delight textually as visually. The backmatter includes snippets from Telgemeier’s sketchbook and a photo of her in Día makeup.

Telgemeier’s bold colors, superior visual storytelling, and unusual subject matter will keep readers emotionally engaged and unable to put down this compelling tale. (Graphic fiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: Sept. 13, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-545-54061-2

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: July 2, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2016

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A deftly told story that dramatizes how Danes appointed themselves bodyguards—not only for their king, who was in the habit...

NUMBER THE STARS

The author of the Anastasia books as well as more serious fiction (Rabble Starkey, 1987) offers her first historical fiction—a story about the escape of the Jews from Denmark in 1943.

Five years younger than Lisa in Carol Matas' Lisa's War (1989), Annemarie Johansen has, at 10, known three years of Nazi occupation. Though ever cautious and fearful of the ubiquitous soldiers, she is largely unaware of the extent of the danger around her; the Resistance kept even its participants safer by telling them as little as possible, and Annemarie has never been told that her older sister Lise died in its service. When the Germans plan to round up the Jews, the Johansens take in Annemarie's friend, Ellen Rosen, and pretend she is their daughter; later, they travel to Uncle Hendrik's house on the coast, where the Rosens and other Jews are transported by fishing boat to Sweden. Apart from Lise's offstage death, there is little violence here; like Annemarie, the reader is protected from the full implications of events—but will be caught up in the suspense and menace of several encounters with soldiers and in Annemarie's courageous run as courier on the night of the escape. The book concludes with the Jews' return, after the war, to homes well kept for them by their neighbors.

A deftly told story that dramatizes how Danes appointed themselves bodyguards—not only for their king, who was in the habit of riding alone in Copenhagen, but for their Jews. (Historical fiction. 9-12)

Pub Date: April 1, 1989

ISBN: 0547577095

Page Count: 156

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin

Review Posted Online: Oct. 17, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 1989

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