An occasionally muddled, overambitious foray into an X-Men–like universe.

Reject High

Kids the system has given up on acquire power of their own in Thompson’s (The Anarchists, 2012, etc.) YA debut sci-fi thriller, the first in a series set among students at an alternative high school.

Jason Champion suffers from ADHD and rage blackouts. After he breaks a student’s jaw in a fight he doesn’t remember, he lands at Regional Education and Guidance Collective Training high school for the last two weeks of his freshman year. R.E.G.C.T., colloquially known as “Reject High,” is a dumping ground for students the district would prefer to forget; having just reopened after a student’s on-site suicide, the school’s slated for demolition during the summer. Jason strikes up a friendship with goth girl Rhapsody Lowe. While playing hooky in the same restroom where Cherish Watkins killed herself, they’re almost caught by an armed Student Resource officer who patrols the halls. In fact, they should have been caught—Jason knows the cop looked right at him but didn’t seem to see him. Mystified, he grills Rhapsody as they serve detention together for kissing in the cafeteria. She reveals that she has powers of invisibility, thanks to a bright green crystal found in the school’s basement. When she gives Jason a prism made of the same material, he develops powers of his own: superhuman strength and incredible jumping ability. Soon, they’re pursued by unknown adversaries who want to protect “the source.” Thompson attempts to address serious issues, such as mental illness, bullying and victim-blaming (Jason’s love interest, Sasha, was kicked out of her previous school because a boyfriend taped them having sex and circulated it online), but the book’s overextended breadth doesn’t suit the story well. However, once the superpowers and villainous conspiracies show up, these topics fade into the background in favor of chase scenes and portentous bad-guy speeches. Still, it’s refreshing to read a YA novel with main characters of color whose race isn’t the focus. Though little is wrapped up in this entry in the series, potential remains for later books to better develop the lore of the strange crystals.

An occasionally muddled, overambitious foray into an X-Men–like universe.

Pub Date: June 13, 2013

ISBN: 978-0989105606

Page Count: 270

Publisher: Great Nation Publishing

Review Posted Online: June 1, 2013

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An invitation to wonder, imagine and look at everything (humans included) in a new way.

NOAH CHASES THE WIND

A young boy sees things a little differently than others.

Noah can see patterns in the dust when it sparkles in the sunlight. And if he puts his nose to the ground, he can smell the “green tang of the ants in the grass.” His most favorite thing of all, however, is to read. Noah has endless curiosity about how and why things work. Books open the door to those answers. But there is one question the books do not explain. When the wind comes whistling by, where does it go? Noah decides to find out. In a chase that has a slight element of danger—wind, after all, is unpredictable—Noah runs down streets, across bridges, near a highway, until the wind lifts him off his feet. Cowman’s gusty wisps show each stream of air turning a different jewel tone, swirling all around. The ribbons gently bring Noah home, setting him down under the same thinking tree where he began. Did it really happen? Worthington’s sensitive exploration leaves readers with their own set of questions and perhaps gratitude for all types of perspective. An author’s note mentions children on the autism spectrum but widens to include all who feel a little different.

An invitation to wonder, imagine and look at everything (humans included) in a new way. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: April 14, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-60554-356-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Redleaf Lane

Review Posted Online: Feb. 3, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2015

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More gift book than storybook, this is a meaningful addition to nursery bookshelves

MAYBE

A young child explores the unlimited potential inherent in all humans.

“Have you ever wondered why you are here?” asks the second-person narration. There is no one like you. Maybe you’re here to make a difference with your uniqueness; maybe you will speak for those who can’t or use your gifts to shine a light into the darkness. The no-frills, unrhymed narrative encourages readers to follow their hearts and tap into their limitless potential to be anything and do anything. The precisely inked and colored artwork plays with perspective from the first double-page spread, in which the child contemplates a mountain (or maybe an iceberg) in their hands. Later, they stand on a ladder to place white spots on tall, red mushrooms. The oversized flora and fauna seem to symbolize the presumptively insurmountable, reinforcing the book’s message that anything is possible. This quiet read, with its sophisticated central question, encourages children to reach for their untapped potential while reminding them it won’t be easy—they will make messes and mistakes—but the magic within can help overcome falls and failures. It’s unlikely that members of the intended audience have begun to wonder about their life’s purpose, but this life-affirming mood piece has honorable intentions. The child, accompanied by an adorable piglet and sporting overalls and a bird-beaked cap made of leaves, presents white.

More gift book than storybook, this is a meaningful addition to nursery bookshelves . (Picture book. 2-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 15, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-946873-75-0

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Compendium

Review Posted Online: May 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2019

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