An exquisite excavation of hair politics, family dynamics, and self-love.

Marlene, a young Dominican American girl, seeks to embrace her natural hair.

Sundays are the worst—they’re the day each week when Marlene’s mom brings her to get her hair straightened at the salon. It’s a painful, arduous process, but Mami insists it’s the only way to look your best in front of others and be presentable at events like her cousin’s quinceañera. Marlene is constantly bombarded with ideas about “good hair” and critical comments about her looks. Thankfully, Tía Ruby, with her abundance of natural, bouncy curls, reassures Marlene that straightening her hair isn’t a requirement for looking beautiful, which sets a fire in Marlene’s heart. With the guidance and support of Tía Ruby and best friend Camilla, Marlene embarks on a natural hair journey with her head held high. Ortega masterfully navigates topics like anti-Blackness and oppressive beauty standards passed down through generations. Bousamra’s eye-catching color scheme, dominated by soft shades of pink and blue, and expressive illustrations showing Marlene’s vibrant community are the perfect vessel for this story. An especially tender scene in which Marlene finally experiences a pain-free wash day speaks volumes about the healing themes present throughout this graphic novel. Marlene’s journey of personal growth will evoke catharsis and joy.

An exquisite excavation of hair politics, family dynamics, and self-love. (Graphic fiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: Oct. 18, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-250-25962-2

Page Count: 224

Publisher: First Second

Review Posted Online: July 12, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2022


From the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series , Vol. 14

Readers can still rely on this series to bring laughs.

The Heffley family’s house undergoes a disastrous attempt at home improvement.

When Great Aunt Reba dies, she leaves some money to the family. Greg’s mom calls a family meeting to determine what to do with their share, proposing home improvements and then overruling the family’s cartoonish wish lists and instead pushing for an addition to the kitchen. Before bringing in the construction crew, the Heffleys attempt to do minor maintenance and repairs themselves—during which Greg fails at the work in various slapstick scenes. Once the professionals are brought in, the problems keep getting worse: angry neighbors, terrifying problems in walls, and—most serious—civil permitting issues that put the kibosh on what work’s been done. Left with only enough inheritance to patch and repair the exterior of the house—and with the school’s dismal standardized test scores as a final straw—Greg’s mom steers the family toward moving, opening up house-hunting and house-selling storylines (and devastating loyal Rowley, who doesn’t want to lose his best friend). While Greg’s positive about the move, he’s not completely uncaring about Rowley’s action. (And of course, Greg himself is not as unaffected as he wishes.) The gags include effectively placed callbacks to seemingly incidental events (the “stress lizard” brought in on testing day is particularly funny) and a lampoon of after-school-special–style problem books. Just when it seems that the Heffleys really will move, a new sequence of chaotic trouble and property destruction heralds a return to the status quo. Whew.

Readers can still rely on this series to bring laughs. (Graphic/fiction hybrid. 8-12)

Pub Date: Nov. 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4197-3903-3

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Amulet/Abrams

Review Posted Online: Nov. 18, 2019


The three way chats, in which they are joined by other animals, about web spinning, themselves, other humans—are as often...

A successful juvenile by the beloved New Yorker writer portrays a farm episode with an imaginative twist that makes a poignant, humorous story of a pig, a spider and a little girl.

Young Fern Arable pleads for the life of runt piglet Wilbur and gets her father to sell him to a neighbor, Mr. Zuckerman. Daily, Fern visits the Zuckermans to sit and muse with Wilbur and with the clever pen spider Charlotte, who befriends him when he is lonely and downcast. At the news of Wilbur's forthcoming slaughter, campaigning Charlotte, to the astonishment of people for miles around, spins words in her web. "Some Pig" comes first. Then "Terrific"—then "Radiant". The last word, when Wilbur is about to win a show prize and Charlotte is about to die from building her egg sac, is "Humble". And as the wonderful Charlotte does die, the sadness is tempered by the promise of more spiders next spring.

The three way chats, in which they are joined by other animals, about web spinning, themselves, other humans—are as often informative as amusing, and the whole tenor of appealing wit and pathos will make fine entertainment for reading aloud, too.

Pub Date: Oct. 15, 1952

ISBN: 978-0-06-026385-0

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Sept. 14, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 1952

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