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DUST

An investigation of hard choices and empathy.

There isn’t much going on in Clear Canyon City, the small Arizona town where Avalyn and her parents moved for the climate after her severe asthma nearly killed her.

But all she needs are Dillon and Nan, her two best friends, and her passion for competitive spelling. Though she struggles with her asthma and food and environmental allergies, life is mostly normal—until, all at once, unprecedented dust storms hit and middle school bullying ramps up. These dangers are marked by the arrival of Adam, a sullen and withdrawn new student. He and Avalyn form a growing connection over a love of X-Men comics and feelings of isolation, and his presence and the increasingly severe weather seem to be connected. Avalyn must gather the courage to help protect Adam when no one else can and perhaps share her deepest secret: that she suspects she’s an empath, able to sense the emotions of others. This is a skill she’ll need to draw upon to confront the horrible truth of Adam’s family life. Despite many pop-culture references that seem to stand in for deeper characterization, Avalyn’s difficult, matter-of-fact daily negotiations with her health and the unforgiving desert surroundings are well realized. Her determined sleuthing will draw in readers, and the different abuses Avalyn and Adam each face are presented with care and not glossed over. Most main characters are cued White; Nan is Mexican American.

An investigation of hard choices and empathy. (author’s note, discussion questions) (Fiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: Aug. 15, 2023

ISBN: 9780316414234

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: May 24, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2023

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CHARLOTTE'S WEB

The three way chats, in which they are joined by other animals, about web spinning, themselves, other humans—are as often...

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A successful juvenile by the beloved New Yorker writer portrays a farm episode with an imaginative twist that makes a poignant, humorous story of a pig, a spider and a little girl.

Young Fern Arable pleads for the life of runt piglet Wilbur and gets her father to sell him to a neighbor, Mr. Zuckerman. Daily, Fern visits the Zuckermans to sit and muse with Wilbur and with the clever pen spider Charlotte, who befriends him when he is lonely and downcast. At the news of Wilbur's forthcoming slaughter, campaigning Charlotte, to the astonishment of people for miles around, spins words in her web. "Some Pig" comes first. Then "Terrific"—then "Radiant". The last word, when Wilbur is about to win a show prize and Charlotte is about to die from building her egg sac, is "Humble". And as the wonderful Charlotte does die, the sadness is tempered by the promise of more spiders next spring.

The three way chats, in which they are joined by other animals, about web spinning, themselves, other humans—are as often informative as amusing, and the whole tenor of appealing wit and pathos will make fine entertainment for reading aloud, too.

Pub Date: Oct. 15, 1952

ISBN: 978-0-06-026385-0

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Sept. 14, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 1952

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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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