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UPSTAGED

A sincerely moving story with a whole lotta heart.

Shira Gordon is painfully shy, a wanting-nothing-more-than-to-fade-into-the-background sort of shy.

But a small, vociferous part of her is chomping at the bit, yearning to sing and dance and laugh like no one is watching. When the school music teacher announces the fall musical, The Music Man, Shira lets her best friend, Cassie, coax her into auditioning and even allows herself to dream of getting in. Preferably as a member of the ensemble. Not Mr. Jacey Squires, first tenor of the barbershop quartet—and certainly not understudy to the female lead. But the spirit of the theater is community, and she quickly finds herself drawn into new friendships, budding romances, mysterious sabotage attempts, and a spotlight that might not be as frightening as she once thought. The plot is buoyed by the energy and sincerity of the characters. Asher draws readers so deeply into the drama of these young thespians’ lives that rooting for them is easier than flubbing a line on the first day off-book. Shira’s quirky castmates, teachers, and family are richly individualized, and her retiring, wallflower-esque exterior belies a poignant inner life familiar to any shy middle schooler. Notably, Shira’s shyness is not portrayed as a flaw but as a hurdle the circumstances she’s thrust into force her to overcome. Jewish Shira is presumed White; diversity is naturally woven into the supporting cast.

A sincerely moving story with a whole lotta heart. (Fiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: March 16, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-4197-4081-7

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Amulet/Abrams

Review Posted Online: Dec. 14, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2021

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BECOMING MUHAMMAD ALI

From the Becoming Ali series , Vol. 1

A stellar collaboration that introduces an important and intriguing individual to today’s readers.

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  • Kirkus Reviews'
    Best Books Of 2020


  • New York Times Bestseller

Two bestselling authors imagine the boyhood of the man who became the legendary boxing icon Muhammad Ali.

Cassius was a spirited child growing up in segregated Louisville, Kentucky. He had a loving home with his parents and younger brother, Rudy. Granddaddy Herman also was an important figure, imparting life lessons. His parents wanted him to succeed in school, but Cassius had difficulty reading and found more pleasure in playing and exploring outdoors. Early on, he and Rudy knew the restrictions of being African American, for example, encountering “Whites Only” signs at parks, but the brothers dreamed of fame like that enjoyed by Black boxer Joe Louis. Popular Cassius was especially close to Lucius “Lucky” Wakely; despite their academic differences, their deep connection remained after Lucky received a scholarship to a Catholic school. When Cassius wandered into the Columbia Boxing Gym, it seemed to be destiny, and he developed into a successful youth boxer. Told in two voices, with prose for the voice of Lucky and free verse for Cassius, the narrative provides readers with a multidimensional view of the early life of and influences on an important figure in sports and social change. Lucky’s observations give context while Cassius’ poetry encapsulates his drive, energy, and gift with words. Combined with dynamic illustrations by Anyabwile, the book captures the historical and social environment that produced Muhammad Ali.

A stellar collaboration that introduces an important and intriguing individual to today’s readers. (bibliography) (Biographical novel. 8-12)

Pub Date: Oct. 5, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-316-49816-6

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Jimmy Patterson/Little, Brown and HMH Books

Review Posted Online: Aug. 3, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2020

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GHOSTS

Telgemeier’s bold colors, superior visual storytelling, and unusual subject matter will keep readers emotionally engaged and...

Catrina narrates the story of her mixed-race (Latino/white) family’s move from Southern California to Bahía de la Luna on the Northern California coast.

Dad has a new job, but it’s little sister Maya’s lungs that motivate the move: she has had cystic fibrosis since birth—a degenerative breathing condition. Despite her health, Maya loves adventure, even if her lungs suffer for it and even when Cat must follow to keep her safe. When Carlos, a tall, brown, and handsome teen Ghost Tour guide introduces the sisters to the Bahía ghosts—most of whom were Spanish-speaking Mexicans when alive—they fascinate Maya and she them, but the terrified Cat wants only to get herself and Maya back to safety. When the ghost adventure leads to Maya’s hospitalization, Cat blames both herself and Carlos, which makes seeing him at school difficult. As Cat awakens to the meaning of Halloween and Day of the Dead in this strange new home, she comes to understand the importance of the ghosts both to herself and to Maya. Telgemeier neatly balances enough issues that a lesser artist would split them into separate stories and delivers as much delight textually as visually. The backmatter includes snippets from Telgemeier’s sketchbook and a photo of her in Día makeup.

Telgemeier’s bold colors, superior visual storytelling, and unusual subject matter will keep readers emotionally engaged and unable to put down this compelling tale. (Graphic fiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: Sept. 13, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-545-54061-2

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: July 1, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2016

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