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THE PRETTIEST

A sensitive story about sexual harassment and bullying with a feel-good ending.

Three eighth-graders manage the fallout after someone publishes a ranked list of the prettiest girls in their class.

Being ranked No. 1 throws young poet Eve Hoffman’s life into chaos. A second-place ranking knocks Sophie Kane for a loop, too; she’s desperate never to be seen as “less than” or “white trash” like her single mom. Nessa Flores-Brady never expected to make the list (not because she’s Latina, but because she’s fat), and she’s determined not to let it affect her. Still, the rankings put Eve and Nessa’s best friendship at risk, threaten Sophie’s status as the most popular, and galvanize the eighth grade into targeted bullying. The rude, disgusting, and occasionally anti-Semitic messages that flood Eve’s phone are all too familiar for anyone who’s attended a majority-white middle-class American school—even their principal, an Asian American woman, recalls a time a boy snapped her bra so hard she bled, and no adults did anything. To the girls’ credit, they communicate about the effects of normative beauty standards and band together against the people (mostly boys) who enforce them, but of course the perpetrator isn’t whom they think. Eve’s older brother, Abe, and classmate Winston (who seems to be white) offer windows into the pressures of toxic masculinity. Endearingly nerdy references permeate the narrative. Their school is a diverse one, with difference mostly conveyed through naming convention.

A sensitive story about sexual harassment and bullying with a feel-good ending. (Fiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: April 14, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-62672-923-0

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Roaring Brook Press

Review Posted Online: Feb. 8, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

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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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GHOSTS

Telgemeier’s bold colors, superior visual storytelling, and unusual subject matter will keep readers emotionally engaged and...

Catrina narrates the story of her mixed-race (Latino/white) family’s move from Southern California to Bahía de la Luna on the Northern California coast.

Dad has a new job, but it’s little sister Maya’s lungs that motivate the move: she has had cystic fibrosis since birth—a degenerative breathing condition. Despite her health, Maya loves adventure, even if her lungs suffer for it and even when Cat must follow to keep her safe. When Carlos, a tall, brown, and handsome teen Ghost Tour guide introduces the sisters to the Bahía ghosts—most of whom were Spanish-speaking Mexicans when alive—they fascinate Maya and she them, but the terrified Cat wants only to get herself and Maya back to safety. When the ghost adventure leads to Maya’s hospitalization, Cat blames both herself and Carlos, which makes seeing him at school difficult. As Cat awakens to the meaning of Halloween and Day of the Dead in this strange new home, she comes to understand the importance of the ghosts both to herself and to Maya. Telgemeier neatly balances enough issues that a lesser artist would split them into separate stories and delivers as much delight textually as visually. The backmatter includes snippets from Telgemeier’s sketchbook and a photo of her in Día makeup.

Telgemeier’s bold colors, superior visual storytelling, and unusual subject matter will keep readers emotionally engaged and unable to put down this compelling tale. (Graphic fiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: Sept. 13, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-545-54061-2

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: July 1, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2016

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