This dynamic theater story stars Aggie, a girl whose enthusiasm, mad talent and diva qualities lead her astray. Steamed that she doesn’t get the lead in the school’s production of Hello, Dolly and convinced it’s because she’s fat, Aggie writes a roman à clef musical. It features two girls, the fat one an undisguised Aggie, the thin one suspiciously similar to the girl playing Dolly, Cynthia of the recent boob job. Aggie’s friends (techie Suzanne, ever-loyal Elliot and lyricist Cameron) support Aggie’s hostility toward Cynthia despite knowing it’s unfair: Cynthia’s nice and actually deserved the lead because of her singing skill. They mount a major production of Aggie’s show that, astonishingly, succeeds. Aggie’s almost failing math, Cameron comes out to his parents (and it goes badly) and Aggie resents the parental support that Karl, her father’s partner, gives Cameron—Aggie’s possessive of her stepfather’s attention. The prose, sometimes unpolished and forced but always infused with warmth, brims with musical-theater references. Unlike most arcs about fat teens, this one never equates emotional growth with weight loss; Aggie’s refreshingly non-symbolic fatness is just part of her. Like Elphaba in the song that Cameron rewrites, Aggie tries defying gravity—and succeeds, musically, socially and romantically. Given the ratings of Glee and the emerging popularity of teen lit combining queer themes and musicals, this should be a hit. (Fiction. 13 & up)

Pub Date: May 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-1-59719-030-5

Page Count: 184

Publisher: Pearlsong Press

Review Posted Online: April 3, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2011

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In this character-driven intergenerational story, Royce Peterson and his single mother have recently moved from Nova Scotia to British Columbia to help care for Arthur, Royce’s 95-year-old grandfather and one of the greatest cellists of the 20th century. After the curmudgeon chases off every aide, the teen is enlisted to watch his grandfather. At first the homesick, friendless and mono-recovering teen and his homebound, rude and crude grandfather are at odds, but then Royce gains new appreciation for Arthur—he caroused with Gloria Vanderbilt and Picasso, traveled the world, loved and lost loves—and Arthur begins to appreciate life again. But just as the pair begins to respect each other, Arthur suffers a series of debilitating strokes and asks Royce to end his life. Inspired by her experience caring for her aged father, Harvey offers a realistic view of the aging process, the difficult decisions left to loved ones and the need for friends and family. Sophisticated readers and fans of Joan Bauer’s Rules of the Road (1998) or Louis Sachar's The Cardturner (2010) will enjoy the grandfather-grandson banter and tenderness. (Fiction. 13 & up)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2010

ISBN: 978-1-55146-226-2

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Orca

Review Posted Online: Aug. 31, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2010

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Interesting and well written but problematic in its conceptualization of a generic Africa and Africans.


Witch queen Poppy Hawkweed returns in this sequel to The Hawkweed Prophecy (2016).

After the events of the last book, Poppy attempts to escape her new life as a witch queen by transforming into a swallow and migrating to Africa, though to what part of the vast continent is unclear. There, white Poppy’s taken in by a medicine maker, Mma, and her dark-skinned great-grandson, Teko. Though Mma and Teko are initially portrayed as likable characters, they eventually imprison Poppy, ostensibly for her own good, as they’ve seen a vision that she will be killed if she returns to England. Back in England, the third-person narrative perspective shifts among characters and times. There’s Poppy’s birth mother, Charlock, both in the present and when she was younger, as well as Leo, Ember, and Betony, Leo’s mother. Through the many lenses and back stories readers learn of Leo’s conception and what became of Betony, who left the witches to have her son. Teko eventually allows Poppy to escape, and once back in England, she’s bullied into taking up her queendom. But there are many twists and turns and painful betrayals to be hashed out before there’s a chance of happily ever after. Though themes of sisterhood are strong, most female relationships are interrupted, if not broken, by male intrusion. The real unbreakable bond in these stories is that between mother and child.

Interesting and well written but problematic in its conceptualization of a generic Africa and Africans. (Fantasy. 14-adult)

Pub Date: Aug. 15, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-60286-314-9

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Weinstein Books

Review Posted Online: July 2, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2017

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