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

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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An engrossing, humorous, and vitally important graphic novel that should be required reading in every middle school in...

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NEW KID

From the New Kid series , Vol. 1

Jordan Banks takes readers down the rabbit hole and into his mostly white prep school in this heartbreakingly accurate middle-grade tale of race, class, microaggressions, and the quest for self-identity.

He may be the new kid, but as an African-American boy from Washington Heights, that stigma entails so much more than getting lost on the way to homeroom. Riverdale Academy Day School, located at the opposite end of Manhattan, is a world away, and Jordan finds himself a stranger in a foreign land, where pink clothing is called salmon, white administrators mistake a veteran African-American teacher for the football coach, and white classmates ape African-American Vernacular English to make themselves sound cool. Jordan’s a gifted artist, and his drawings blend with the narrative to give readers a full sense of his two worlds and his methods of coping with existing in between. Craft skillfully employs the graphic-novel format to its full advantage, giving his readers a delightful and authentic cast of characters who, along with New York itself, pop off the page with vibrancy and nuance. Shrinking Jordan to ant-sized proportions upon his entering the school cafeteria, for instance, transforms the lunchroom into a grotesque Wonderland in which his lack of social standing becomes visually arresting and viscerally uncomfortable.

An engrossing, humorous, and vitally important graphic novel that should be required reading in every middle school in America. (Graphic fiction. 10-14)

Pub Date: Feb. 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-06-269120-0

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Oct. 15, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2018

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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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