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WIRES CROSSED

An achingly authentic and relatable examination of adolescent friendship.

A 13-year-old navigates middle school’s constantly shifting social dynamics.

Everything is changing for STEM-loving Mia. Her best friend, Addy, has been pulling away, seemingly more concerned with elevating her social standing. When Mia hears that Tariq, her bestie from science camp, is moving to her town, she’s initially excited—until she sees that Tariq has shed his bespectacled boyish look and is now confoundingly cute and sporty. Mia is suddenly keenly aware that her family (fanboy father, coupon-clipping mother, and insect-loving little brother), who once seemed lovably quirky, now embarrass her. When a teacher announces the school’s Science Olympics, Mia and Tariq decide to team up with artsy Kinsey and disorganized Evan. But the group’s dynamics begin to erode: Could Tariq and Kinsey like each other? As the school’s first dance and the Science Olympics near, Mia must reconcile first crushes, friendship squabbles, and the daily ups and downs of the constantly changing landscape of middle school. Fantaskey’s endearing stand-alone graphic novel captures the gentle angst of this age with pitch-perfection, combining empathetic characters with gentle humor that’s reminiscent of the work of Kayla Miller and Raina Telgemeier. Vivid full-color illustrations in tidily arranged panels highlight facial expressions, emphasizing the characters’ emotions throughout. Mia’s dad has brown skin and straight black hair; her light-skinned mom is blond and blue-eyed, and there’s racial diversity in the supporting cast.

An achingly authentic and relatable examination of adolescent friendship. (Graphic fiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: April 30, 2024

ISBN: 9780358395447

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Clarion/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Jan. 19, 2024

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2024

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WRECKING BALL

From the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series , Vol. 14

Readers can still rely on this series to bring laughs.

The Heffley family’s house undergoes a disastrous attempt at home improvement.

When Great Aunt Reba dies, she leaves some money to the family. Greg’s mom calls a family meeting to determine what to do with their share, proposing home improvements and then overruling the family’s cartoonish wish lists and instead pushing for an addition to the kitchen. Before bringing in the construction crew, the Heffleys attempt to do minor maintenance and repairs themselves—during which Greg fails at the work in various slapstick scenes. Once the professionals are brought in, the problems keep getting worse: angry neighbors, terrifying problems in walls, and—most serious—civil permitting issues that put the kibosh on what work’s been done. Left with only enough inheritance to patch and repair the exterior of the house—and with the school’s dismal standardized test scores as a final straw—Greg’s mom steers the family toward moving, opening up house-hunting and house-selling storylines (and devastating loyal Rowley, who doesn’t want to lose his best friend). While Greg’s positive about the move, he’s not completely uncaring about Rowley’s action. (And of course, Greg himself is not as unaffected as he wishes.) The gags include effectively placed callbacks to seemingly incidental events (the “stress lizard” brought in on testing day is particularly funny) and a lampoon of after-school-special–style problem books. Just when it seems that the Heffleys really will move, a new sequence of chaotic trouble and property destruction heralds a return to the status quo. Whew.

Readers can still rely on this series to bring laughs. (Graphic/fiction hybrid. 8-12)

Pub Date: Nov. 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4197-3903-3

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Amulet/Abrams

Review Posted Online: Nov. 18, 2019

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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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