A remarkable debut enlivened by heroic portions of silliness, spirit, and depth.

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The Dirt Bike Detective

In this debut upper middle–grade mystery, several outcast students at a charter school search for their missing teacher.

Twelve-year-old Oliver Teller lives in Raven Ridge, Colorado. His mother works two jobs to keep him attending Raven Ridge Academy, a castlelike school situated above an old silver mine. Oliver has a large birthmark on the right side of his face, making him a target for bullies like Johnny Ricker. He also has a friend named Gio and harbors a crush on the clever Jaclyn Jones. Hoping to start the new school year right—and impress his teacher, Mr. Doyle—Oliver brings his great-grandfather’s pocket watch to history class. When Johnny steals the watch from Oliver, Mr. Doyle confiscates it until after school. Enter Chase Sullivan, new student and self-styled detective, who promises to get the watch back. Luckily, Chase’s specialty is the paranormal. The academy is home to gargoyles, ghostly students, mysterious power surges, and a teaching staff whose conversations seem to point to a conspiracy. When Mr. Doyle goes missing, the young detectives explore every possible explanation, from aliens to zombies. They must act quickly because the U.S. president is coming to honor their classmate Ana Rahela Balenovic, who wrote an award-winning essay on her pride in America. Hoover presents a sprawling world populated by charming heroes, like Jaclyn, and lovable oddballs, like Eduard (an eloquently snooty math whiz). Hoover also creates fragile, heart-stopping moments that launch his narrative above the average kids’ adventure. During art class, Oliver is partnered with the know-it-all Ana Rahela to draw each other’s portraits; he draws her with a big mouth and balloon head, while she portrays him as he longs to be seen—without his birthmark. Daringly, the author also gives readers two versions of America to consider: one that celebrates independence and another that poisons its own soil with chemicals. Though Hoover leaves some things unexplained by the end, his narrative is a concert of striking events and complex emotions.

A remarkable debut enlivened by heroic portions of silliness, spirit, and depth.

Pub Date: N/A

ISBN: 978-0-9966709-1-3

Page Count: -

Publisher: Iconicon, llc

Review Posted Online: Feb. 4, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2016

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This story is necessary. This story is important.

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THE HATE U GIVE

Sixteen-year-old Starr Carter is a black girl and an expert at navigating the two worlds she exists in: one at Garden Heights, her black neighborhood, and the other at Williamson Prep, her suburban, mostly white high school.

Walking the line between the two becomes immensely harder when Starr is present at the fatal shooting of her childhood best friend, Khalil, by a white police officer. Khalil was unarmed. Khalil’s death becomes national news, where he’s called a thug and possible drug dealer and gangbanger. His death becomes justified in the eyes of many, including one of Starr’s best friends at school. The police’s lackadaisical attitude sparks anger and then protests in the community, turning it into a war zone. Questions remain about what happened in the moments leading to Khalil’s death, and the only witness is Starr, who must now decide what to say or do, if anything. Thomas cuts to the heart of the matter for Starr and for so many like her, laying bare the systemic racism that undergirds her world, and she does so honestly and inescapably, balancing heartbreak and humor. With smooth but powerful prose delivered in Starr’s natural, emphatic voice, finely nuanced characters, and intricate and realistic relationship dynamics, this novel will have readers rooting for Starr and opening their hearts to her friends and family.

This story is necessary. This story is important. (Fiction. 14-adult)

Pub Date: Feb. 28, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-06-249853-3

Page Count: 464

Publisher: Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Dec. 6, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2016

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If the hands and agenda of the authors are evident, their passion elevates the novel beyond a needed call to action to a...

ALL AMERICAN BOYS

Two boys, one black and one white, act out an all-too-familiar drama when the former is brutally beaten during an arrest and the latter witnesses it.

Rashad wasn't trying to steal that bag of chips, but Officer Paul Galuzzo beats him to a pulp rather than hear him out. Quinn doesn't know that, but he does know that no one should be treated the way he sees family friend and surrogate father Paul whaling on that black kid. Day by day over the next week, each boy tells his story, Rashad in the hospital, where he watches endless replays of the incident, and Quinn at school, where he tries to avoid it. Soon Rashad's a trending hashtag, as his brother and friends organize a protest he's not sure he wants. Meanwhile, Quinn negotiates basketball practice with his best friend—Galuzzo's little brother, who expects loyalty—and Rashad's, who tells him bluntly, "White boy like you can just walk away whenever you want." In a series of set pieces, Rashad contemplates his unwanted role as the latest statistic, and Quinn decides whether he'll walk away or stand. Reynolds and Kiely supply their protagonists with a supporting cast that prods them in all the right ways; Rashad's strict, ex-cop dad provides unexpected complexity.

If the hands and agenda of the authors are evident, their passion elevates the novel beyond a needed call to action to a deeply moving experience. (Fiction. 12-18)

Pub Date: Sept. 29, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-4814-6333-1

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Caitlyn Dlouhy/Atheneum

Review Posted Online: Aug. 1, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2015

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