Touching and unforgettable.

SECOND DAD SUMMER

A young man learns about Pride, tolerance, and acceptance in this heartwarming debut.

Iowan Jeremiah usually enjoys spending summers with his father, Al, a construction worker who lives in Minneapolis. Except now those summers include Al’s new boyfriend, Michael, a man with highlighted hair who drinks organic teas, rides around on a unicorn-themed bicycle, and comes across as way too gay for Jeremiah’s taste. As the summer progresses, Jeremiah’s friendships with Sage, a girl who lives close by with her moms, and Mr. Keeler, an older, gay next-door neighbor who shares his love of gardening, help him rethink his view of Michael and his beliefs about masculinity. Klas’ novel is a timely salute to the evolving picture of a traditional American family. The author’s mastery of this subject matter is evident in the smallest details of the world he creates, from the urban smells of a big city and the spirit of a Pride festival to Jeremiah’s angst over Michael’s use of nicknames reserved for his parents. Arroyo’s black-and-white cartoon illustrations give further texture to the story. Through Klas’ eminently likable young protagonist, readers enter a space where homosexuality and bisexuality are thoughtfully discussed and traditional ideas of masculinity are explored and challenged. The cast is default white, but the diversity within the LGBTQ community is thoughtfully presented, including in the persons of Sage and her mother Lisa, who are Hmong (Sage was conceived via artificial insemination).

Touching and unforgettable. (Fiction. 9-13)

Pub Date: Aug. 4, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-947159-242

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Red Chair Press

Review Posted Online: Dec. 18, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2020

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

NIGHTBIRD

There’s a monster in Sidwell, Massachusetts, that can only be seen at night or, as Twig reveals, if passersby are near her house.

It’s her older brother, James, born with wings just like every male in the Fowler line for the last 200 years. They were cursed by the Witch of Sidwell, left brokenhearted by their forebear Lowell Fowler. Twig and James are tired of the secret and self-imposed isolation. Lonely Twig narrates, bringing the small town and its characters to life, intertwining events present and past, and describing the effects of the spell on her fractured family’s daily life. Longing for some normalcy and companionship, she befriends new-neighbor Julia while James falls in love with Julia’s sister, Agate—only to learn they are descendants of the Witch. James and Agate seem as star-crossed as their ancestors, especially when the townspeople attribute a spate of petty thefts and graffiti protesting the development of the woods to the monster and launch a hunt. The mix of romance and magic is irresistible and the tension, compelling. With the help of friends and through a series of self-realizations and discoveries, Twig grows more self-assured. She is certain she knows how to change the curse. In so doing, Twig not only changes James’ fate, but her own, for the first time feeling the fullness of family, friends and hope for the future.

Enchanting. (Magical realism. 9-12)

Pub Date: March 10, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-385-38958-7

Page Count: 208

Publisher: Wendy Lamb/Random

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2015

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

A sly, side-splitting hoot from start to finish.

THE MECHANICAL MIND OF JOHN COGGIN

The dreary prospect of spending a lifetime making caskets instead of wonderful inventions prompts a young orphan to snatch up his little sister and flee. Where? To the circus, of course.

Fortunately or otherwise, John and 6-year-old Page join up with Boz—sometime human cannonball for the seedy Wandering Wayfarers and a “vertically challenged” trickster with a fantastic gift for sowing chaos. Alas, the budding engineer barely has time to settle in to begin work on an experimental circus wagon powered by chicken poop and dubbed (with questionable forethought) the Autopsy. The hot pursuit of malign and indomitable Great-Aunt Beauregard, the Coggins’ only living relative, forces all three to leave the troupe for further flights and misadventures. Teele spins her adventure around a sturdy protagonist whose love for his little sister is matched only by his fierce desire for something better in life for them both and tucks in an outstanding supporting cast featuring several notably strong-minded, independent women (Page, whose glare “would kill spiders dead,” not least among them). Better yet, in Boz she has created a scene-stealing force of nature, a free spirit who’s never happier than when he’s stirring up mischief. A climactic clutch culminating in a magnificently destructive display of fireworks leaves the Coggin sibs well-positioned for bright futures. (Illustrations not seen.)

A sly, side-splitting hoot from start to finish. (Adventure. 11-13)

Pub Date: April 12, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-06-234510-3

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Walden Pond Press/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2016

Did you like this book?

more