A positive, informative account best suited for the author’s more than 1 million YouTube subscribers and social media...




With an assist from Ohlin, dancer-turned–reality star–turned-actress-turned–internet sensation Lukasiak offers advice for conquering bullying, overcoming shyness, following dreams, and growing up in the spotlight.

Packaged in pastels, purples, eggshells, and generous photos, all chapters begin with motivational quotes from various sources, including philosopher Søren Kierkegaard, actor Michael J. Fox, singer Taylor Swift, and the author herself, among several others. Speaking in first person and in nonlinear fashion, Lukasiak begins the book declaring, “I had a different path ahead of me—a shiny, wonderful, yet-to-be-revealed path.” Many readers will note that a white teenager pens this remark and wonder whether she fully comprehends its undertone of unearned privilege. The perpetually bullied and self-proclaimed shy dork delves into the hardships she has endured under the camera’s lens and advises peers how to best take care of themselves. Personal anecdotes, listicles, short stories, memories, social media posts, and poetry are interjected generously, often breaking up the message in each chapter. Though the presentation emulates the storied distractibility of the book’s audience, it is not idyllic for focusing on messages of betterment.

A positive, informative account best suited for the author’s more than 1 million YouTube subscribers and social media followers; others can give it a pass. (photographs, epilogue) (Memoir. 12-16)

Pub Date: Jan. 23, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-68119-737-1

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Review Posted Online: Oct. 10, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2017

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From the Ape Quartet series , Vol. 1

Congolese-American Sophie makes a harrowing trek through a war-torn jungle to protect a young bonobo.

On her way to spend the summer at the bonobo sanctuary her mother runs, 14-year-old Sophie rescues a sickly baby bonobo from a trafficker. Though her Congolese mother is not pleased Sophie paid for the ape, she is proud that Sophie works to bond with Otto, the baby. A week before Sophie's to return home to her father in Miami, her mother must take advantage
of a charter flight to relocate some apes, and she leaves Sophie with Otto and the sanctuary workers. War breaks out, and after missing a U.N. flight out, Sophie must hide herself and Otto from violent militants and starving villagers. Unable to take Otto out of the country, she decides finding her mother hundreds of miles to the north is her only choice. Schrefer jumps from his usual teen suspense to craft this well-researched tale of jungle survival set during a fictional conflict in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Realistic characters (ape and human) deal with disturbing situations described in graphic, but never gratuitous detail. The lessons Sophie learns about her childhood home, love and what it means to be endangered will resonate with readers.

Even if some hairbreadth escapes test credulity, this is a great next read for fans of our nearest ape cousins or survival adventure. (map, author's note, author Q&A) (Adventure. 12-16)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-545-16576-1

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Oct. 3, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2012

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School violence revisited. In Todd Strasser’s Give a Boy a Gun (2000), the school-violence story was raw and powerful. Ron Koertge’s verse treatment, The Brimstone Journals (2001), kept the story innovative and fresh. Over 10 years later, Van Cleave’s debut novel in verse is a didactic rehashing with uninspiring poetry. Andy has already been bullied for the last six years, but his situation grows worse when he starts his freshman year at the same high school where his father works as a janitor. Noticing other losers, like “equal / opportunity / angry” Sue and bookworm Nicholas, the teen turns his attention to Blake, who has undergone a metamorphosis since losing his soldier dad in the Iraqi war. As rumors about STDs, alcohol and sexual orientation travel the corridors, nothing garners as much attention as the rumor that Blake is hiding a gun in his locker. To win favor with his crush, Becky Ann, Andy steals his father’s keys to open Blake’s locker and retrieve the gun. While he doesn’t find anything suspicious in the locker, he discovers that Blake does have a firearm and final plans for his classmates. At first, Andy’s knowledge and newfound friendship with Blake gives him “rebel courage,” but soon he realizes that he has a difficult decision to make as Blake’s date for destruction approaches. A concluding teacher’s guide confirms the intended use of this tired-feeling novel. (Fiction. 12-16)

Pub Date: March 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-8027-2186-0

Page Count: 160

Publisher: Walker

Review Posted Online: Feb. 17, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2011

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