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THE ONLY BLACK GIRLS IN TOWN

A heartfelt tale with classy, indelible characters.

A new neighbor brings change and mystery to rising seventh grader Alberta Freeman-Price.

Despite the fact that Alberta and her dads are some of the small number of Black people in Ewing Beach, California, Alberta leads a pretty chill life, surfing and eating ice cream with her best friend, Laramie. Then the bed-and-breakfast across the street is taken over by new neighbors from New York, a Black single mom and her goth daughter, Edie. The fact that Edie is Black fuses the bond between the two. When Edie discovers mysterious journals in the attic of the B&B, she shares them with Alberta. The author of the journals was Constance, a young woman who apparently worked as a nanny in the building during the 1950s. The girls’ obsession with the journals combines with their emerging friendship to cause Alberta to feel torn between Laramie, who is White, and Edie. While Alberta and Edie juggle the awkward, sometimes-painful dynamics of middle school friendships, bullies, and racism, their research into the journals leads the girls to a discovery of family and racial dynamics that transcends time. Colbert’s middle-grade debut, centering Black girls who represent a range of experiences, deserves a standing ovation. Alberta’s narration is perceptive and accessible as she navigates race in America in the past and present.

A heartfelt tale with classy, indelible characters. (Fiction. 10-12)

Pub Date: March 24, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-316-45638-8

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Nov. 9, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2019

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MILLIONAIRES FOR THE MONTH

Cinematic, over-the-top decadence, a tense race against time, and lessons on what’s truly valuable.

A reward of $5,000,000 almost ruins everything for two seventh graders.

On a class trip to New York City, Felix and Benji find a wallet belonging to social media billionaire Laura Friendly. Benji, a well-off, chaotic kid with learning disabilities, swipes $20 from the wallet before they send it back to its owner. Felix, a poor, shy, rule-follower, reluctantly consents. So when Laura Friendly herself arrives to give them a reward for the returned wallet, she’s annoyed. To teach her larcenous helpers a lesson, Laura offers them a deal: a $20,000 college scholarship or slightly over $5 million cash—but with strings attached. The boys must spend all the money in 30 days, with legal stipulations preventing them from giving anything away, investing, or telling anyone about it. The glorious windfall quickly grows to become a chore and then a torment as the boys appear increasingly selfish and irresponsible to the adults in their lives. They rent luxury cars, hire a (wonderful) philosophy undergrad as a chauffeur, take their families to Disney World, and spend thousands on in-app game purchases. Yet, surrounded by hedonistically described piles of loot and filthy lucre, the boys long for simpler fundamentals. The absorbing spending spree reads like a fun family film, gleefully stuffed with the very opulence it warns against. Major characters are White.

Cinematic, over-the-top decadence, a tense race against time, and lessons on what’s truly valuable. (mathematical explanations) (Fiction. 10-12)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-593-17525-5

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: June 29, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2020

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ALMOST SUPER

A solid debut: fluent, funny and eminently sequel-worthy.

Inventively tweaking a popular premise, Jensen pits two Incredibles-style families with superpowers against each other—until a new challenge rises to unite them.

The Johnsons invariably spit at the mere mention of their hated rivals, the Baileys. Likewise, all Baileys habitually shake their fists when referring to the Johnsons. Having long looked forward to getting a superpower so that he too can battle his clan’s nemeses, Rafter Bailey is devastated when, instead of being able to fly or something else cool, he acquires the “power” to strike a match on soft polyester. But when hated classmate Juanita Johnson turns up newly endowed with a similarly bogus power and, against all family tradition, they compare notes, it becomes clear that something fishy is going on. Both families regard themselves as the heroes and their rivals as the villains. Someone has been inciting them to fight each other. Worse yet, that someone has apparently developed a device that turns real superpowers into silly ones. Teaching themselves on the fly how to get past their prejudice and work together, Rafter, his little brother, Benny, and Juanita follow a well-laid-out chain of clues and deductions to the climactic discovery of a third, genuinely nefarious family, the Joneses, and a fiendishly clever scheme to dispose of all the Baileys and Johnsons at once. Can they carry the day?

A solid debut: fluent, funny and eminently sequel-worthy. (Adventure. 10-12)

Pub Date: Jan. 21, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-06-220961-0

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Nov. 1, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2013

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