Timely, engaging, and full of heart.

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DRESS CODED

A spirited eighth grader and her friends leverage the power of social networking to fight their school’s oppressive dress code.

Students are furious when the class campout is canceled because fellow student Olivia contravened the dress code. That changes after Molly persuades Olivia to tell the embarrassing story on her new podcast. Going public at first worsens her mortification; both girls are targeted by bullies. Then, as Molly’s podcast followers mount, others post photos of dress-code shaming on Instagram, revealing the harm caused by policing girls’ appearances while ignoring social, cultural, and economic realities that govern their lives and clothing choices. Talia’s hair (she’s Trinidadian) triggers the dress code. While Molly’s pre-pubertal figure is ridiculed by an obnoxious classmate (Megan, with cerebral palsy, knows how that feels), her violations of the dress code are ignored, but girls with curvier bodies are repeatedly sanctioned. When district administrators ignore their petition to end dress coding, students strategize next steps. Molly, a refreshingly average student gifted with empathy, has a brother who deals vaping paraphernalia, stressing her white middle-class family financially and emotionally. Diverse secondary characters include several with disabilities. Beyond code inequities, everyday issues like family stress and active-shooter lockdowns complicate the lives of these appealing characters. Vividly conveyed, their almost-palpable adolescent angst is at once uniquely contemporary and timeless. Readers will root for them as they discover that taking action makes an effective antidote.

Timely, engaging, and full of heart. (Fiction. 10-15)

Pub Date: July 7, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-1643-6

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: March 25, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2020

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DRAMA

From award winner Telgemeier (Smile, 2010), a pitch-perfect graphic novel portrayal of a middle school musical, adroitly capturing the drama both on and offstage.

Seventh-grader Callie Marin is over-the-moon to be on stage crew again this year for Eucalyptus Middle School’s production of Moon over Mississippi. Callie's just getting over popular baseball jock and eighth-grader Greg, who crushed her when he left Callie to return to his girlfriend, Bonnie, the stuck-up star of the play. Callie's healing heart is quickly captured by Justin and Jesse Mendocino, the two very cute twins who are working on the play with her. Equally determined to make the best sets possible with a shoestring budget and to get one of the Mendocino boys to notice her, the immensely likable Callie will find this to be an extremely drama-filled experience indeed. The palpably engaging and whip-smart characterization ensures that the charisma and camaraderie run high among those working on the production. When Greg snubs Callie in the halls and misses her reference to Guys and Dolls, one of her friends assuredly tells her, "Don't worry, Cal. We’re the cool kids….He's the dork." With the clear, stylish art, the strongly appealing characters and just the right pinch of drama, this book will undoubtedly make readers stand up and cheer.

Brava!  (Graphic fiction. 10-14)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-545-32698-8

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Graphix/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: July 22, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2012

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An engrossing, humorous, and vitally important graphic novel that should be required reading in every middle school in...

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NEW KID

Jordan Banks takes readers down the rabbit hole and into his mostly white prep school in this heartbreakingly accurate middle-grade tale of race, class, microaggressions, and the quest for self-identity.

He may be the new kid, but as an African-American boy from Washington Heights, that stigma entails so much more than getting lost on the way to homeroom. Riverdale Academy Day School, located at the opposite end of Manhattan, is a world away, and Jordan finds himself a stranger in a foreign land, where pink clothing is called salmon, white administrators mistake a veteran African-American teacher for the football coach, and white classmates ape African-American Vernacular English to make themselves sound cool. Jordan’s a gifted artist, and his drawings blend with the narrative to give readers a full sense of his two worlds and his methods of coping with existing in between. Craft skillfully employs the graphic-novel format to its full advantage, giving his readers a delightful and authentic cast of characters who, along with New York itself, pop off the page with vibrancy and nuance. Shrinking Jordan to ant-sized proportions upon his entering the school cafeteria, for instance, transforms the lunchroom into a grotesque Wonderland in which his lack of social standing becomes visually arresting and viscerally uncomfortable.

An engrossing, humorous, and vitally important graphic novel that should be required reading in every middle school in America. (Graphic fiction. 10-14)

Pub Date: Feb. 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-06-269120-0

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Oct. 15, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2018

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