A sensitive exploration of the high costs of failing to really connect with those around us.

CYCLONE

Cronin, famous for solving cow communication problems with a typewriter in Click, Clack, Moo: Cows That Type (2000) and sequels, offers her debut middle-grade novel illuminating human communication problems.

Nora, 12, blackmails her cousin Riley, 13, into riding with her on the Cyclone, the Coney Island amusement park’s legendary roller coaster—and as soon as Riley steps off, she collapses from a stroke and is hospitalized, partially paralyzed and nearly unable to speak. In the waiting room, Nora meets Jack, a caring young teen, who says his younger brother is in the ICU with leukemia—although, sadly, he’s not telling the full story. Riley’s hospital stay drags on, including ample medical detail, and Nora’s and Riley’s mothers’ other sister arrives, ballooning the already-substantial tension. As Riley begins to talk a bit, most of her words are, astonishingly, in Spanish, dredged up from her middle school language lessons; only her Latina roommate, Sophia, is able to understand her. (Sophia and some hospital staff aside, the characters all appear to be white.) It’s only time, learning to listen, and a bit of emerging maturity that help Nora resolve these many communication problems, discovering poignant, hidden-in-plain-sight truths along the way. Her honest first-person (and thoroughly footnoted) voice believably moves from defensive and guilt-ridden to perceptive and empathetic as her understanding grows.

A sensitive exploration of the high costs of failing to really connect with those around us. (Fiction. 10-14)

Pub Date: May 16, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4814-3525-3

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Caitlyn Dlouhy/Atheneum

Review Posted Online: May 1, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2017

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A fantastic, heartbreaking crescendo that echoes beyond the final page.

WILLA OF DARK HOLLOW

From the Willa of the Wood series , Vol. 2

A young Faeran girl puts everything on the line to save her home and the family she loves.

Emerging from the charred ruins of the Faeran forest lair, 13-year-old green-skinned, brown-haired Willa has formed a new family with humans who care about the Great Smoky Mountain as much as she does. Unfortunately, the Sutton Lumber Company has plans to clear the forest for railroad tracks. Her White adoptive father, Nathaniel, has become a leading voice against the destruction, making him a target. After he is arrested on suspicion of murdering loggers, Willa asks for help from her Faeran clan, but they blame her for the death of their leader and subsequent loss of their old home. Even the forest itself has grown hostile as strange, deathly cold creatures attack. Adelaide, a new blond, blue-eyed friend, and Hialeah, Nathaniel’s White and Cherokee daughter, join Willa in protecting the forest, clearing Nathaniel’s name, saving the Faeran, and unraveling the mystery of the malicious beasts. This duology closer is a captivating, stirring tale of family, friendship, the environment, and our place in the world. At every turn, Willa is faced with higher stakes and decisions that are even harder to make; the consequences of each choice weigh on her heart. The gorgeous prose and imagery of the mountains will inspire in readers a deep admiration for nature and support for Willa’s fight.

A fantastic, heartbreaking crescendo that echoes beyond the final page. (Fantasy. 10-14)

Pub Date: May 4, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-368-00760-3

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion

Review Posted Online: April 8, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2021

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

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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

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