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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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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Poet Alexander deftly reveals the power of the format to pack an emotional punch.

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THE CROSSOVER

Basketball-playing twins find challenges to their relationship on and off the court as they cope with changes in their lives.

Josh Bell and his twin, Jordan, aka JB, are stars of their school basketball team. They are also successful students, since their educator mother will stand for nothing else. As the two middle schoolers move to a successful season, readers can see their differences despite the sibling connection. After all, Josh has dreadlocks and is quiet on court, and JB is bald and a trash talker. Their love of the sport comes from their father, who had also excelled in the game, though his championship was achieved overseas. Now, however, he does not have a job and seems to have health problems the parents do not fully divulge to the boys. The twins experience their first major rift when JB is attracted to a new girl in their school, and Josh finds himself without his brother. This novel in verse is rich in character and relationships. Most interesting is the family dynamic that informs so much of the narrative, which always reveals, never tells. While Josh relates the story, readers get a full picture of major and minor players. The basketball action provides energy and rhythm for a moving story.

Poet Alexander deftly reveals the power of the format to pack an emotional punch. (Verse fiction. 9-12)

Pub Date: March 18, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-544-10771-7

Page Count: 240

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: Dec. 18, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2014

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