A realistic story with strong, recognizable characters that doesn’t reduce cystic fibrosis to a tragedy.

CALEB AND KIT

A 12-year-old boy attempts to take charge of his own life.

Caleb, a white boy born with cystic fibrosis, hates being one of only two kids his age in summer day camp. His mom refuses to let him stay home alone while she works, his irresponsible dad is off gallivanting with his new fiancee, and his perfect older brother has a summer internship—with, of all things, the local CF foundation. Caleb’s longtime best friend is busy with football and baseball—sports Caleb can no longer play. When he meets a mystical girl (also white, as all the main characters seem to be) in the woods behind his home, he’s intrigued; when she encourages him to escape the ordinary and to do whatever he wants, he goes along, skipping camp and spending days with her. But Kit is burdened with her own problems and secrets, and what Kit wants them to do is sometimes illegal or dangerous. Caleb’s first-person narration allows readers to sympathize with the frustration and fear that cause him to act out, and it propels the plot to a credible, nuanced conclusion. The cystic fibrosis is well-handled—it affects every part of Caleb’s life but never defines who he is.

A realistic story with strong, recognizable characters that doesn’t reduce cystic fibrosis to a tragedy. (Fiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: Sept. 12, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-7624-6223-0

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Running Press Kids

Review Posted Online: June 5, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2017

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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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  • Kirkus Reviews'
    Best Books Of 2014

  • New York Times Bestseller

  • Coretta Scott King Book Award Winner

  • Newbery Honor Book

  • National Book Award Winner

BROWN GIRL DREAMING

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 25, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2014

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Remarkable.

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  • IndieBound Bestseller

  • Asian/Pacific American Award for Literature Honor Book

PRAIRIE LOTUS

A “half-Chinese and half-white” girl finds her place in a Little House–inspired fictional settler town.

After the death of her Chinese mother, Hanna, an aspiring dressmaker, and her White father seek a fresh start in Dakota Territory. It’s 1880, and they endure challenges similar to those faced by the Ingallses and so many others: dreary travel through unfamiliar lands, the struggle to protect food stores from nature, and the risky uncertainty of establishing a livelihood in a new place. Fans of the Little House books will find many of the small satisfactions of Laura’s stories—the mouthwatering descriptions of victuals, the attention to smart building construction, the glorious details of pleats and poplins—here in abundance. Park brings new depth to these well-trodden tales, though, as she renders visible both the xenophobia of the town’s White residents, which ranges in expression from microaggressions to full-out assault, and Hanna’s fight to overcome it with empathy and dignity. Hanna’s encounters with women of the nearby Ihanktonwan community are a treat; they hint at the whole world beyond a White settler perspective, a world all children deserve to learn about. A deeply personal author’s note about the story’s inspiration may leave readers wishing for additional resources for further study and more clarity about her use of Lakota/Dakota. While the cover art unfortunately evokes none of the richness of the text and instead insinuates insidious stereotypes, readers who sink into the pages behind it will be rewarded.

Remarkable. (Historical fiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: March 3, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-328-78150-5

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Clarion Books

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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