An inspiring tale, simply told.

THE FIGHT

From the Surviving Southside series

Teens at Texas’ ethnically diverse Southside High fight an anti-gay school policy after incidents of homophobic bullying.

When her teacher witnesses an act of anti-gay violence in the school hallway and refuses to intervene, Bella—short for Isabel—is horrified. Even though Dominic, the student being bullied, downplays the incident when Bella asks him about it, Bella feels called to action. When she decides to join the school’s Gay-Straight Alliance, however, she discovers the club only exists unofficially. Zoe, one of the students involved, explains, “There’s something going on....The teachers are totally freaked out about anything having to do with gay people.” Readers who remember The Alliance (2013), set at Southside a year earlier, will recognize the district’s “neutrality policy” as the reason teachers refuse to intervene in homophobic bullying or even teach works by queer creators such as Langston Hughes, James Baldwin, Countee Cullen, Claude McKay or Aaron Copland. Here, Bella and Zoe uncover the policy and launch a community-wide battle against it. Although the story is bare-bones short, the characters are well-drawn, and there is room for nuance. Bella is interested in a female classmate, June, but what that means about her sexuality is left refreshingly ambiguous.

An inspiring tale, simply told. (Fiction. 12-16)

Pub Date: May 1, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-4677-0709-1

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Darby Creek

Review Posted Online: March 27, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2013

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Not quite the wild ride of Skyward (2018) but still great fun.

STARSIGHT

From the Skyward series , Vol. 2

As if the threat of huge, raging monsters from hyperspace isn’t scary enough, hotshot fighter pilot Spensa Nightshade becomes embroiled in an alien empire’s politics.

On a desperate mission to steal hyperdrive technology from the crablike invading Krell who are threatening to destroy her beleaguered home colony on Detritus, Spensa, who is white, holographically disguises herself as a violet-skinned UrDail and slips into a Krell pilot training program for “lesser species.” The discovery that she’s being secretly trained not to fight planet-destroying delvers but to exterminate humans, who are (with some justification, having kindled three interstellar wars in past centuries) regarded in certain quarters as an irrationally aggressive species, is just one in a string of revelations as, in between numerous near-death experiences on practice flights, she struggles to understand both her own eerie abilities and the strange multispecies society in which she finds herself. There are so many characters besides Spensa searching for self-identity—notably her comic-relief sidekick AI M-Bot, troubled human friend Jorgen back on Detritus, and Morriumur, member of a species whose color-marked sexes create trial offspring—that even with a plot that defaults to hot action and escalating intrigue the pacing has a stop and start quality. Still, Spensa’s habitual over-the-top recklessness adds a rousing spark, and the author folds in plenty of banter as well as a colorful supporting cast.

Not quite the wild ride of Skyward (2018) but still great fun. (Science fiction. 12-15)

Pub Date: Nov. 26, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-399-55581-7

Page Count: 480

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: Oct. 13, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2019

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For princess fans and lovers of fairy tales.

COLD HEARTED

A TALE OF THE WICKED STEPMOTHER

From the Villains series

How did Cinderella’s stepmother come to be so wicked?

She may have been self-focused, but at least she wasn’t always so cruel. Lady Tremaine, mother of two spoiled daughters, is a lonely widow hoping for a bit of happiness. Unfortunately, when Sir Richard appears at her friend’s house party, she’s swept off her feet and fails to heed the frantic warnings of her dedicated, elderly lady’s maid. Had she ever bothered to read the book of fairy tales her late husband purchased years before, she might have recognized the perils of assuming the role of stepmother. Entranced by Sir Richard, she agrees to a hasty marriage and a move to the Many Kingdoms, where he reverts to his true, domineering nature and she and her daughters become virtual prisoners in his home. Although the Odd Sisters—clever, manipulative witches—try to intervene on her behalf, it seems her fate is already written; she becomes as cruel and demented as the story described. However, Cinderella’s Fairy Godmother and her sister, Nanny, have plans to rescue Lady Tremaine’s daughters as they develop much-needed, rehabilitative insights into the family’s dynamics. Mostly told from the Lady’s shallow, self-centered perspective, this is an entertaining retelling of the Disney “Cinderella” story from a different viewpoint, with references to the rest of the series woven throughout. Characters follow a White default.

For princess fans and lovers of fairy tales. (Fiction. 12-16)

Pub Date: June 29, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-368-02528-7

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion

Review Posted Online: April 27, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2021

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