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

THE PRETTIEST

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

Review Posted Online: Feb. 9, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

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A road trip to remember.

CLEAN GETAWAY

Using the Negro Travelers’ Green Book and her hidden past as a road map, a grandma takes her grandson on a cross country journey.

When G’ma pulls up to William “Scoob” Lamar’s house in a brand-new Winnebago and invites him on an adventure, Scoob leaves a note for his dad and jumps in. Despite not knowing where they are going, or why G’ma has traded in her Mini Cooper and house for the RV, Scoob is a willing wingman because he wants to save spring break and escape his strict single dad for a few days. Readers will appreciate the bond between Scoob and G’ma; Stone balances fun with emotion for a compelling read. After they cross from Georgia to Alabama and G’ma keeps avoiding Dad’s calls, Scoob begins to get suspicious. When G’ma lets him see the contents of her once off-limits treasure box, which includes a 1963 edition of the Travelers’ Green Book, Scoob understands this trip means much more than even he imagined. The complex role race plays in their family and on this trip—Scoob is mixed-race and presents black, and G’ma is white—is explored in a meaningful way that provides details about a period in time as well as present-day realities. Rich in history, Stone’s middle-grade debut entertains and informs young readers. The subdued ending may frustrate, but the journey, punctuated by Anyabwile’s grayscale cartoons, is well worth it.

A road trip to remember. (Fiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: Jan. 7, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-9297-3

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: Sept. 15, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2019

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With Ivan’s movie out this year from Disney, expect great interest—it will be richly rewarded.

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THE ONE AND ONLY BOB

Tiny, sassy Bob the dog, friend of The One and Only Ivan (2012), returns to tell his tale.

Wisecracking Bob, who is a little bit Chihuahua among other things, now lives with his girl, Julia, and her parents. Happily, her father works at Wildworld Zoological Park and Sanctuary, the zoo where Bob’s two best friends, Ivan the gorilla and Ruby the elephant, live, so Bob gets to visit and catch up with them regularly. Due to an early betrayal, Bob doesn’t trust humans (most humans are good only for their thumbs); he fears he’s going soft living with Julia, and he’s certain he is a Bad Dog—as in “not a good representative of my species.” On a visit to the zoo with a storm threatening, Bob accidentally falls into the gorilla enclosure just as a tornado strikes. So that’s what it’s like to fly. In the storm’s aftermath, Bob proves to everyone (and finally himself) that there is a big heart in that tiny chest…and a brave one too. With this companion, Applegate picks up where her Newbery Medal winner left off, and fans will be overjoyed to ride along in the head of lovable, self-deprecating Bob on his storm-tossed adventure. His wry doggy observations and attitude are pitch perfect (augmented by the canine glossary and Castelao’s picture dictionary of dog postures found in the frontmatter). Gorilla Ivan described Julia as having straight, black hair in the previous title, and Castelao's illustrations in that volume showed her as pale-skinned. (Finished art not available for review.)

With Ivan’s movie out this year from Disney, expect great interest—it will be richly rewarded. (afterword) (Fiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: May 5, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-299131-7

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: March 25, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2020

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