A compelling story on a difficult topic, addressed with maturity and grace.

READ REVIEW

SPARKERS

A fantasy debut grapples thoughtfully with all-too-mundane evil.

Fourteen-year-old Marah may be intelligent, hardworking and musically gifted, but a mere “sparker” (the insulting slang kasir magicians use for the despised halani underclass) has little chance of a future. Such concerns seem trivial, though, when a mysterious plague devastates the city of Ashara. Marah forges an unlikely partnership with Azariah, a talented young kasir, to decipher a forbidden ancient text that might offer a cure—but what if the epidemic conceals a more sinister threat? Social injustice is a rare theme in middle-grade fantasy, but Glewwe conveys the insidious poison of prejudice by grounding the narrative in evocative details, constructing Ashara from an intriguing mix of the familiar and the alien. Marah is a terrific heroine—smart, determined and ferociously devoted to her friends and family—but she also makes mistakes, asks for help and finds herself torn between conflicting desires. If the other characters are less rich, they are still commendably complex and diverse. The grim subjects—racism, disease, betrayal and genocide—demand a dark tone, but it is never graphic or gratuitous. Nor is this tale devoid of light; but while insisting that triumph over systemic oppression is possible, it does not pretend that victory will be easy or without compromise.

A compelling story on a difficult topic, addressed with maturity and grace. (Fantasy. 10-15)

Pub Date: Sept. 30, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-451-46876-5

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: June 25, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2014

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

An endearing protagonist runs the first, fast leg of Reynolds' promising relay.

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

Google Rating

  • google rating
  • google rating
  • google rating
  • google rating
  • google rating
  • Kirkus Reviews'
    Best Books Of 2016

  • New York Times Bestseller

  • National Book Award Finalist

GHOST

From the Track series , Vol. 1

Castle “Ghost” Cranshaw feels like he’s been running ever since his dad pulled that gun on him and his mom—and used it.

His dad’s been in jail three years now, but Ghost still feels the trauma, which is probably at the root of the many “altercations” he gets into at middle school. When he inserts himself into a practice for a local elite track team, the Defenders, he’s fast enough that the hard-as-nails coach decides to put him on the team. Ghost is surprised to find himself caring enough about being on the team that he curbs his behavior to avoid “altercations.” But Ma doesn’t have money to spare on things like fancy running shoes, so Ghost shoplifts a pair that make his feet feel impossibly light—and his conscience correspondingly heavy. Ghost’s narration is candid and colloquial, reminiscent of such original voices as Bud Caldwell and Joey Pigza; his level of self-understanding is both believably childlike and disarming in its perception. He is self-focused enough that secondary characters initially feel one-dimensional, Coach in particular, but as he gets to know them better, so do readers, in a way that unfolds naturally and pleasingly. His three fellow “newbies” on the Defenders await their turns to star in subsequent series outings. Characters are black by default; those few white people in Ghost’s world are described as such.

An endearing protagonist runs the first, fast leg of Reynolds' promising relay. (Fiction. 10-14)

Pub Date: Aug. 30, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-4814-5015-7

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Caitlyn Dlouhy/Atheneum

Review Posted Online: July 20, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2016

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

DRAMA

From award winner Telgemeier (Smile, 2010), a pitch-perfect graphic novel portrayal of a middle school musical, adroitly capturing the drama both on and offstage.

Seventh-grader Callie Marin is over-the-moon to be on stage crew again this year for Eucalyptus Middle School’s production of Moon over Mississippi. Callie's just getting over popular baseball jock and eighth-grader Greg, who crushed her when he left Callie to return to his girlfriend, Bonnie, the stuck-up star of the play. Callie's healing heart is quickly captured by Justin and Jesse Mendocino, the two very cute twins who are working on the play with her. Equally determined to make the best sets possible with a shoestring budget and to get one of the Mendocino boys to notice her, the immensely likable Callie will find this to be an extremely drama-filled experience indeed. The palpably engaging and whip-smart characterization ensures that the charisma and camaraderie run high among those working on the production. When Greg snubs Callie in the halls and misses her reference to Guys and Dolls, one of her friends assuredly tells her, "Don't worry, Cal. We’re the cool kids….He's the dork." With the clear, stylish art, the strongly appealing characters and just the right pinch of drama, this book will undoubtedly make readers stand up and cheer.

Brava!  (Graphic fiction. 10-14)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-545-32698-8

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Graphix/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: July 22, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2012

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet
more