For Ferrante’s adult fans who are longing for occasional pictures to accompany her words.

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THE BEACH AT NIGHT

A once-favored doll abandoned at the beach anguishes at her fate.

When Mati’s father gives her a new cat at the beach, the 5-year-old white girl is so besotted she leaves her doll, this book’s narrator, behind at the end of the day. The doll’s understandable distress increases when she realizes she is at the mercy of the Mean Beach Attendant of Sunset and his friend, the Big Rake. As if being forgotten and then heaped into a pile with other beach detritus are not bad enough, when the doll protests the Mean Beach Attendant’s assessment of her as “ugly,” he sees opportunity in the words she holds inside her. Extending a Hook suspended on “a disgusting thread of saliva” from his mouth, he extracts the doll’s name from her. It gets worse: she is nearly burned to death, then washed into the ocean, then further violated by the Mean Beach Attendant and his “disgusting thread of saliva.” Toy protagonist notwithstanding, this book feels in no way like one for children. While many of the emotions articulated by the doll are convincingly childlike and not uncommon in children’s literature—her extreme hostility to the usurping cat and her fascination with the repellent Beach Attendant are similar to themes explored in Sendak’s Outside over There—their delivery undergoes no transmutation for a child audience. Neither does the book’s language: while there are doubtless many small children who complain about boys who “pee on our feet with their little dickies” and who hear coarse language in public places (the Mean Beach Attendant sings, “Open your maw / I’ve shit for your craw / Drink up the pee”), they and their adult caregivers are unaccustomed to seeing them in print in picture books. Not that this is a true picture book: with many text-only double-page spreads and illustrations that do little to extend the text, this book will try the patience of most young listeners. The Italian edition of this book is marketed to children 10 and up; the advertised audience in the United States of 6 to 10 feels just plain wrong.

For Ferrante’s adult fans who are longing for occasional pictures to accompany her words. (Fiction. 14 & up)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-60945-370-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Europa Editions

Review Posted Online: Oct. 22, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2016

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TRISTAN STRONG DESTROYS THE WORLD

From the Tristan Strong series , Vol. 2

Tristan Strong is back in this sequel to Tristan Strong Punches a Hole in the Sky (2019).

A month’s passed since rising eighth grader Tristan’s first adventure in Alke, the world where African American folktale heroes are gods who live alongside African deities. Tristan’s now an Anansesem, “a carrier and spreader of stories,” and after the Shamble Man, a new foe, kidnaps his grandmother and takes her back to Alke, he follows, determined to rescue her. Tristan heads off on an adventure that will challenge his reluctant hero-ness (realistically, this aspect of his character hasn’t changed) and force him to reckon with the truth: Though he saved Alke, he was also the reason Alke was in danger in the first place. Fans of the first book will cheer the return of old friends, like capable, reliable Ayanna; the ever quippy Gum Baby (who steals the show, as per usual); and cellphone-bound trickster Anansi, and appreciate the new characters. The ending is nothing short of earth-shattering, promising a fascinating next entry. Well-paced—just like the previous installment—this sequel focuses on themes such as the meaning of diaspora and the effects of trauma, making for a more nuanced and stronger story than the first. The human characters are Black with varying shades of brown skin.

Packs a punch. (map) (Fantasy. 10-14)

Pub Date: Oct. 6, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-368-04238-3

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion

Review Posted Online: Aug. 4, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2020

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

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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

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