Worst. Principal. Ever. And plenty of potty humor, dialed up to 11.

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RUMORS

Prankster Russell Sprowt bites off considerably more than he can chew in a bid to get him and his friends off his ultramean principal’s “manure list.”

Cazet, a former school librarian, really has the ax and grindstone out. There’s been a spate of disappearances at Russell’s school, most notably fave teacher Miss Mabel Butters, suddenly replaced by Jim Beam–sucking sub “Smiling Sally.” Against this backdrop, the theft of a prized Mud Wrestling Champion of the Century trophy prompts hulking principal Ms. Krunchensnap (formerly Big Mama the Eye Popper) to extort vows from Russell, her favorite victim, not only to find the trophy, but to expedite a rematch with retired rival Torpedo the Atomic Midget. Fortunately, Russell has a loyal and resourceful posse with a valuable new member in Lou, a weirdly flexible drainpipe and sewer dweller. Unfortunately, the young detectives have a short deadline, storm drain monsters, and a pair of requisite bullies, Butch and Slow Eddie, to cope with. Nonetheless, highlighted by gloriously mucky bouts of mud wrestling, all comes round right. Though too small to determine his oddball characters’ ethnicities, the author’s chapter head vignettes provide amusing peeks at upcoming incidents.

Worst. Principal. Ever. And plenty of potty humor, dialed up to 11. (Fiction. 10-13)

Pub Date: May 1, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-939547-32-3

Page Count: 212

Publisher: Creston

Review Posted Online: March 6, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2017

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An eminently satisfying story of family, recovery, and growing into manhood.

REBOUND

In this prequel to Newbery Award–winning The Crossover (2014), Alexander revisits previous themes and formats while exploring new ones.

For Charlie Bell, the future father of The Crossover’s Jordan and Josh, his father’s death alters his relationship with his mother and causes him to avoid what reminds him of his dad. At first, he’s just withdrawn, but after he steals from a neighbor, his mother packs a reluctant Charlie off to his grandparents near Washington, D.C., for the summer. His grandfather works part-time at a Boys and Girls Club where his cousin Roxie is a star basketball player. Despite his protests, she draws him into the game. His time with his grandparents deepens Charlie’s understanding of his father, and he begins to heal. “I feel / a little more normal, / like maybe he’s still here, / … in a / as long as I remember him / he’s still right here / in my heart / kind of way.” Once again, Alexander has given readers an African-American protagonist to cheer. He is surrounded by a strong supporting cast, especially two brilliant female characters, his friend CJ and his cousin Roxie, as well as his feisty and wise granddaddy. Music and cultural references from the late 1980s add authenticity. The novel in verse is enhanced by Anyabwile’s art, which reinforces Charlie’s love for comics.

An eminently satisfying story of family, recovery, and growing into manhood. (Historical verse fiction. 10-12)

Pub Date: April 2, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-544-86813-7

Page Count: 416

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: March 4, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2018

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A satisfying, winning read.

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BOOKED

Nick Hall is a bright eighth-grader who would rather do anything other than pay attention in class.

Instead he daydreams about soccer, a girl he likes, and an upcoming soccer tournament. His linguistics-professor father carefully watches his educational progress, requiring extra reading and word study, much to Nick’s chagrin and protest. Fortunately, his best friend, Coby, shares his passion for soccer—and, sadly, the unwanted attention of twin bullies in their school. Nick senses something is going on with his parents, but their announcement that they are separating is an unexpected blow: “it’s like a bombshell / drops / right in the center / of your heart / and it splatters / all across your life.” The stress leads to counseling, and his life is further complicated by injury and emergency surgery. His soccer dream derailed, Nick turns to the books he has avoided and finds more than he expected. Alexander’s highly anticipated follow-up to Newbery-winning The Crossover is a reflective narrative, with little of the first book’s explosive energy. What the mostly free-verse novel does have is a likable protagonist, great wordplay, solid teen and adult secondary characters, and a clear picture of the challenges young people face when self-identity clashes with parental expectations. The soccer scenes are vivid and will make readers wish for more, but the depiction of Nick as he unlocks his inner reader is smooth and believable.

A satisfying, winning read. (Fiction. 10-12)

Pub Date: April 5, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-544-57098-6

Page Count: 320

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: Jan. 9, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2016

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