Courage and imagination both shine out in this short tale from a Printz Honor winner, even if they are shadowed by audience...

THE AMBER AMULET

A neighborhood superhero discovers that great risk brings great rewards.

The Masked Avenger derives his powers from the energies of certain rocks and minerals, illustrations of which are laid out in scrapbook pages along with maps and images of handwritten notes. He regularly sheds his daytime disguise as white, 12-year-old Liam, dons a homemade costume, and steals out into the night with Richie the Powerbeagle at his side to right wrongs on his block. When loud arguments and slamming doors in one house signal a problem tougher to tackle than the odd misplaced rubbish bin, he determines that only amber, with its unique ability to drive out unhappiness with positive energy, will serve…and so he takes a family heirloom from the “sleeping giant” in his own house to confer on his troubled neighbor. His single mom’s distraught reaction to the amulet’s disappearance leaves him writhing on the horns of an ethical dilemma but also leads to a long and revelatory conversation with the neighbor about life choices and how people can fall out of love. The narrator adopts a portentous voice, the present-tense, third-person text fully invested in the Masked Avenger’s persona. As a character the Masked Avenger is thoroughly beguiling, but the central themes treated here seem more in keeping with adult concerns than those of his preteen peers.

Courage and imagination both shine out in this short tale from a Printz Honor winner, even if they are shadowed by audience issues. (Fiction. 10-12, adult)

Pub Date: Nov. 7, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-5107-2189-0

Page Count: 96

Publisher: Sky Pony Press

Review Posted Online: Aug. 21, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2017

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

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

Reader Votes

  • Readers Vote
  • 11

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • Kirkus Reviews'
    Best Books Of 2019

  • Kirkus Prize
  • Kirkus Prize
    winner

  • IndieBound Bestseller

NEW KID

From the New Kid series , Vol. 1

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

Did you like this book?

An endearing protagonist runs the first, fast leg of Reynolds' promising relay.

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

Google Rating

  • google rating
  • google rating
  • google rating
  • google rating
  • google rating
  • Kirkus Reviews'
    Best Books Of 2016

  • New York Times Bestseller

  • National Book Award Finalist

GHOST

From the Track series , Vol. 1

Castle “Ghost” Cranshaw feels like he’s been running ever since his dad pulled that gun on him and his mom—and used it.

His dad’s been in jail three years now, but Ghost still feels the trauma, which is probably at the root of the many “altercations” he gets into at middle school. When he inserts himself into a practice for a local elite track team, the Defenders, he’s fast enough that the hard-as-nails coach decides to put him on the team. Ghost is surprised to find himself caring enough about being on the team that he curbs his behavior to avoid “altercations.” But Ma doesn’t have money to spare on things like fancy running shoes, so Ghost shoplifts a pair that make his feet feel impossibly light—and his conscience correspondingly heavy. Ghost’s narration is candid and colloquial, reminiscent of such original voices as Bud Caldwell and Joey Pigza; his level of self-understanding is both believably childlike and disarming in its perception. He is self-focused enough that secondary characters initially feel one-dimensional, Coach in particular, but as he gets to know them better, so do readers, in a way that unfolds naturally and pleasingly. His three fellow “newbies” on the Defenders await their turns to star in subsequent series outings. Characters are black by default; those few white people in Ghost’s world are described as such.

An endearing protagonist runs the first, fast leg of Reynolds' promising relay. (Fiction. 10-14)

Pub Date: Aug. 30, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-4814-5015-7

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Caitlyn Dlouhy/Atheneum

Review Posted Online: July 20, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2016

Did you like this book?

more