This solid mix of s’mores and girl empowerment is encouraging but never saccharine.

THE POPULARITY PACT

From the Camp Clique series , Vol. 1

Summer campers vow to make each other popular in their respective social circles.

Bea, a white girl, and Maisy, a mixed-race girl with white and Filipinx heritage, had been best friends until Maisy joined a popular clique reminiscent of the one in Mean Girls. Now a year has passed without a word between the two rising middle schoolers until they meet on the bus taking them to Camp Amelia for the next six weeks. Here the tables are turned, as veteran camper Bea has become tight with fellow bunkmates over the years, and Maisy finds herself on the outside for once when she’s placed in the Sunflower Bunk along with Bea and her friends. In this series opener, told in Maisy’s and Bea’s alternating perspectives, Moskowitz-Palma introduces a cast of mostly white campers with varied abilities and interests (e.g., having dyslexia, modeling professionally, and playing soccer) before ratcheting the tension. The Sunflowers are determined to win the camp’s top athletic prize; ever anxious Maisy, on the other hand, is nervous about everything related to the competition. All seems doomed until Bea and Maisy make a pact: Bea will get the Sunflowers to befriend Maisy, and Maisy will get her school pack to include Bea. In the process, Bea also confronts her parents’ divorce, and readers (and Bea) discover the reasons why Maisy’s really at camp and her seemingly perfect mother went away.

This solid mix of s’mores and girl empowerment is encouraging but never saccharine. (Fiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: April 14, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-7624-6745-7

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Running Press

Review Posted Online: Dec. 8, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2020

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A charming read that demystifies the work of making a movie and celebrates the gifts of authentic friendship.

MARCUS MAKES A MOVIE

Marcus, obsessed with making comics, finds new ambitions for his superhero character Toothpick when he joins an after-school filmaking club.

Always-working comedian Hart enters the children’s-literature world with this middle-grade novel uplifting one of the profound life lessons that helped catapult him to global superstardom. It’s certainly not a biography, but one can see the shades of reality, with a young Black boy who’s short and funny making his way into film. Marcus’ gift for storytelling is nurtured by his love of making comics (represented visually throughout by Cooper). Readers come to understand how these creative acts help process stress and grief via striking conversations between Marcus and his loving father that also show the critical importance of developing emotional language. After an inspiring first day of film class, Marcus declares that he will make the most awesome movie ever—but there’s a gigantic difference between making comics and making a movie: You can’t make a movie alone. He’s going to have to work with peers who challenge him. Through Marcus’ experiences, young readers will learn about the many different concepts, tools, and techniques that are part of the behind-the-camera filmmaking endeavor. Unfortunately, lumping Toni Morrison in with William Shakespeare as just another “dead author” is a distasteful moment in an otherwise enjoyable read. The book adheres to a Black default.

A charming read that demystifies the work of making a movie and celebrates the gifts of authentic friendship. (Fiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: June 1, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-593-17914-7

Page Count: 208

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: May 5, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2021

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With Ivan’s movie out this year from Disney, expect great interest—it will be richly rewarded.

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THE ONE AND ONLY BOB

Tiny, sassy Bob the dog, friend of The One and Only Ivan (2012), returns to tell his tale.

Wisecracking Bob, who is a little bit Chihuahua among other things, now lives with his girl, Julia, and her parents. Happily, her father works at Wildworld Zoological Park and Sanctuary, the zoo where Bob’s two best friends, Ivan the gorilla and Ruby the elephant, live, so Bob gets to visit and catch up with them regularly. Due to an early betrayal, Bob doesn’t trust humans (most humans are good only for their thumbs); he fears he’s going soft living with Julia, and he’s certain he is a Bad Dog—as in “not a good representative of my species.” On a visit to the zoo with a storm threatening, Bob accidentally falls into the gorilla enclosure just as a tornado strikes. So that’s what it’s like to fly. In the storm’s aftermath, Bob proves to everyone (and finally himself) that there is a big heart in that tiny chest…and a brave one too. With this companion, Applegate picks up where her Newbery Medal winner left off, and fans will be overjoyed to ride along in the head of lovable, self-deprecating Bob on his storm-tossed adventure. His wry doggy observations and attitude are pitch perfect (augmented by the canine glossary and Castelao’s picture dictionary of dog postures found in the frontmatter). Gorilla Ivan described Julia as having straight, black hair in the previous title, and Castelao's illustrations in that volume showed her as pale-skinned. (Finished art not available for review.)

With Ivan’s movie out this year from Disney, expect great interest—it will be richly rewarded. (afterword) (Fiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: May 5, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-299131-7

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: March 25, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2020

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