TORCHLIGHT

Novels with the theme of prejudice are often set in the south, but this one takes place in western Massachusetts in 1850 and is based on a real incident in which tensions between white Protestants and Irish Catholics erupted into violence. As told through the eyes of Charlotte, a Yankee fifth-grader, her newly formed friendship with Irish Maggie becomes a small and puzzling cog in the big wheel of bigotry. As Charlotte tries to counterbalance her temperance-touting aunt’s bias, her brother’s hatred of the Irish and her uncle’s efforts to promote Irish workers in his whip factory, her discovery of the insufferable conditions that Maggie and other immigrants must endure brings home the reality. The girls’ friendship is genuine; Charlotte’s voice is believable, though sometimes naïve; and the dialogue segments between the girls reflect a child’s simplistic viewpoint. The photo cover of two girls lacks appeal for this serious story, which can pique discussion about times and places when family and friends choose opposing sides. (Historical fiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2006

ISBN: 0-618-27601-7

Page Count: 160

Publisher: Walter Lorraine/Houghton Mifflin

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2006

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With young readers diagnosed with anxiety in ever increasing numbers, this book offers a necessary mirror to many.

GUTS

Young Raina is 9 when she throws up for the first time that she remembers, due to a stomach bug. Even a year later, when she is in fifth grade, she fears getting sick.

Raina begins having regular stomachaches that keep her home from school. She worries about sharing food with her friends and eating certain kinds of foods, afraid of getting sick or food poisoning. Raina’s mother enrolls her in therapy. At first Raina isn’t sure about seeing a therapist, but over time she develops healthy coping mechanisms to deal with her stress and anxiety. Her therapist helps her learn to ground herself and relax, and in turn she teaches her classmates for a school project. Amping up the green, wavy lines to evoke Raina’s nausea, Telgemeier brilliantly produces extremely accurate visual representations of stress and anxiety. Thought bubbles surround Raina in some panels, crowding her with anxious “what if”s, while in others her negative self-talk appears to be literally crushing her. Even as she copes with anxiety disorder and what is eventually diagnosed as mild irritable bowel syndrome, she experiences the typical stresses of school life, going from cheer to panic in the blink of an eye. Raina is white, and her classmates are diverse; one best friend is Korean American.

With young readers diagnosed with anxiety in ever increasing numbers, this book offers a necessary mirror to many. (Graphic memoir. 8-12)

Pub Date: Sept. 17, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-545-85251-7

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Graphix/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: May 12, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2019

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LUNCH MONEY

Budding billionaire Greg Kenton has a knack for making money and a serious rival. When he issues his first Chunky Comic Book at the beginning of sixth grade, his neighbor and classmate Maura Shaw produces an alternative. Their quarrel draws the attention of the principal, who bans comics from the school. But when they notice all the other commercial messages in their school, they take their cause to the local school committee. Without belaboring his point, Clements takes on product placement in schools and the need for wealth. “Most people can only use one bathroom at a time,” says Greg’s math teacher, Mr. Z. Greg gets the message; middle-grade readers may ignore it in favor of the delightful spectacle of Greg’s ultimate economic success, a pleasing result for the effort this up-and-coming young businessman puts into his work. Clements weaves intriguing information about comic book illustration into this entertaining, smoothly written story. Selznick’s accompanying black-and-white drawings have the appearance of sketches Greg might have made himself. This hits the jackpot. (Fiction. 9-12)

Pub Date: July 1, 2005

ISBN: 0-689-86683-6

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2005

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