by Esty Schachter ‧ RELEASE DATE: Nov. 26, 2014
Simplistic at times but gently informative.
Schachter’s (Anya’s Echoes, 2004) sophomore YA novel explores the changing relationship between a girl and her deaf brother.
Fourteen-year-old Shelly Marks calls her home a “war zone.” Ever since her older brother, Ian, started attending the Hawthorne School for the Deaf, he has become more and more distant from his family. But with rumors swirling that Hawthorne might close, Ian has been irritable, combative, and, frankly, a pain in the neck. All Shelly wants to do is hang out together like they used to. At least her best friend, Lisa, is there to support her—that is, when she’s not making a big, embarrassing deal about Shelly’s 15th birthday. After some honest discussions with her brother, Shelly and Ian start to become close again. However, when Shelly suspects that Ian and Lisa are getting a little too friendly, she fears she might lose a best friend and brother all at once, and she’s jealous of both of them. Suddenly, unimaginable tragedy strikes, rocking Shelly to her core. To deal with her loss and move on with her life, it takes Ian’s understanding and Shelly’s decision to stand up for something important to her. Throughout the story, Schachter notes the differences between spoken English and American Sign Language with insight and intelligence, explaining that they are two distinct languages. Her depiction sheds light on Deaf culture, especially life at Hawthorne as seen through Shelly’s eyes. Schachter also examines the challenges faced by families with some deaf and some hearing members. Readers may feel, however, that the characters and plot here, in comparison to those in other popular YA series, seem rather tame. For instance, when Shelly gives her brother the finger and says to herself, “I had never, ever cursed like that before, not out of my mouth or on my hands,” readers may have their doubts. Nevertheless, especially for the younger set, this is a solid primer for those interested in learning more about Deaf culture.Simplistic at times but gently informative.
Pub Date: Nov. 26, 2014
Page Count: 134
Publisher: Lewis Court Press
Review Posted Online: Jan. 30, 2015
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In more ways than one, a tale about young creatures testing their wings; a moving, entertaining winner.
Awards & Accolades
A fifth-grade New Orleans girl discovers a mysterious chrysalis containing an unexpected creature in this middle-grade novel.
Jacquelyn Marie Johnson, called Jackie, is a 10-year-old African-American girl, the second oldest and the only girl of six siblings. She’s responsible, smart, and enjoys being in charge; she likes “paper dolls and long division and imagining things she had never seen.” Normally, Jackie has no trouble obeying her strict but loving parents. But when her potted snapdragon acquires a peculiar egg or maybe a chrysalis (she dubs it a chrysalegg), Jackie’s strong desire to protect it runs up against her mother’s rule against plants in the house. Jackie doesn’t exactly mean to lie, but she tells her mother she needs to keep the snapdragon in her room for a science project and gets permission. Jackie draws the chrysalegg daily, waiting for something to happen as it gets larger. When the amazing creature inside breaks free, Jackie is more determined than ever to protect it, but this leads her further into secrets and lies. The results when her parents find out are painful, and resolving the problem will take courage, honesty, and trust. Dumas (Jaden Toussaint, the Greatest: Episode 5, 2017, etc.) presents a very likable character in Jackie. At 10, she’s young enough to enjoy playing with paper dolls but has a maturity that even older kids can lack. She’s resourceful, as when she wants to measure a red spot on the chrysalegg; lacking calipers, she fashions one from her hairpin. Jackie’s inward struggle about what to obey—her dearest wishes or the parents she loves—is one many readers will understand. The book complicates this question by making Jackie’s parents, especially her mother, strict (as one might expect to keep order in a large family) but undeniably loving and protective as well—it’s not just a question of outwitting clueless adults. Jackie’s feelings about the creature (tender and responsible but also more than a little obsessive) are similarly shaded rather than black-and-white. The ending suggests that an intriguing sequel is to come.In more ways than one, a tale about young creatures testing their wings; a moving, entertaining winner.
Pub Date: Nov. 11, 2017
Page Count: 212
Publisher: Plum Street Press
Review Posted Online: Feb. 22, 2018
Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2018
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A YA novel that treats its subject and its readers with respect while delivering an engaging story.
In the ninth book in the Bluford young-adult series, a young Latino man walks away from violence—but at great personal cost.
In a large Southern California city, 16-year-old Martin Luna hangs out on the fringes of gang life. He’s disaffected, fatherless and increasingly drawn into the orbit of the older, rougher Frankie. When a stray bullet kills Martin’s adored 8-year-old brother, Huero, Martin seems to be heading into a life of crime. But Martin’s mother, determined not to lose another son, moves him to another neighborhood—the fictional town of Bluford, where he attends the racially diverse Bluford High. At his new school, the still-grieving Martin quickly makes enemies and gets into trouble. But he also makes friends with a kind English teacher and catches the eye of Vicky, a smart, pretty and outgoing Bluford student. Martin’s first-person narration supplies much of the book’s power. His dialogue is plain, but realistic and believable, and the authors wisely avoid the temptation to lard his speech with dated and potentially embarrassing slang. The author draws a vivid and affecting picture of Martin’s pain and confusion, bringing a tight-lipped teenager to life. In fact, Martin’s character is so well drawn that when he realizes the truth about his friend Frankie, readers won’t feel as if they are watching an after-school special, but as though they are observing the natural progression of Martin’s personal growth. This short novel appears to be aimed at urban teens who don’t often see their neighborhoods portrayed in young-adult fiction, but its sophisticated characters and affecting story will likely have much wider appeal.A YA novel that treats its subject and its readers with respect while delivering an engaging story.
Pub Date: Jan. 1, 2004
Page Count: 152
Publisher: Townsend Press
Review Posted Online: Jan. 26, 2013
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