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THE GIRL IN THE LAKE

A gripping scary story weaving in the history of segregation.

While spending a week with their grandparents, cousins are haunted by a ghost.

Celeste did poorly in her last swimming lesson, so she is dreading the summer trip to her grandparents’ lake house. Mom insists that Grandad Jim can teach Celeste how to swim—loving the water and learning how to swim are very important to their Black family—but this doesn’t assuage her fear, and she has nightmares about falling into a body of water. As Celeste starts to settle in, strange things begin happening—a flickering light, the sound of footsteps in the attic at night, and strange events that family members attribute to Celeste even when she insists it wasn’t her. And then Celeste sees someone in the bathroom mirror—a girl who looks exactly like her. Celeste confronts her grandparents with her suspicion that the house is haunted, and Grandma Judy reveals that her sister, Ellie, whom Celeste uncannily resembles, drowned in the lake after being barred from Whites-only lessons at the local swimming pool. Although Grandma Judy insists that Ellie would never hurt any of them, the cousins are not convinced and race to discover the truth before someone really gets hurt. The pacing is strong, and Celeste is a character who will resonate with readers. Brown expertly reminds readers that the truth is scarier than fiction especially when it comes to historical truths and lived realities whose impacts echo through the generations.

A gripping scary story weaving in the history of segregation. (Paranormal. 8-12)

Pub Date: Jan. 4, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-338-67888-8

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Oct. 12, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2021

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THE ONE AND ONLY FAMILY

From the One and Only series , Vol. 4

Not the most satisfying wrap-up, but it’s always good to spend time in the world of this series.

Beloved gorilla Ivan becomes a father to rambunctious twins in this finale to a quartet that began with 2012’s Newbery Award–winning The One and Only Ivan.

Life hasn’t always been easy for silverback gorilla Ivan, who’s spent most of his life being mistreated in captivity. Now he’s living in a wildlife sanctuary, but he still gets to see his two best friends. Young elephant Ruby lives in the grassy habitat next door, and former stray dog Bob has a home with one of the zookeepers. All three were rescued from the Exit 8 Big Top Mall and Video Arcade. Ivan’s expanded world includes fellow gorilla Kinyani—the two are about to become parents, and Ivan is revisiting the traumas of his past in light of what he wants the twins to know. When the subject inevitably comes up, Applegate’s trust and respect for readers is evident. She doesn’t shy away from hard truths as Ivan wrestles with the fact that poachers killed his family. Readers will need the context provided by knowledge of the earlier books to feel the full emotional impact of this story. The rushed ending unfortunately falls flat, detracting from the central message that a complex life can still contain hope. Final art not seen.

Not the most satisfying wrap-up, but it’s always good to spend time in the world of this series. (gorilla games, glossary, author’s note) (Verse fiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: May 7, 2024

ISBN: 9780063221123

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: March 9, 2024

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2024

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WRECKING BALL

From the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series , Vol. 14

Readers can still rely on this series to bring laughs.

The Heffley family’s house undergoes a disastrous attempt at home improvement.

When Great Aunt Reba dies, she leaves some money to the family. Greg’s mom calls a family meeting to determine what to do with their share, proposing home improvements and then overruling the family’s cartoonish wish lists and instead pushing for an addition to the kitchen. Before bringing in the construction crew, the Heffleys attempt to do minor maintenance and repairs themselves—during which Greg fails at the work in various slapstick scenes. Once the professionals are brought in, the problems keep getting worse: angry neighbors, terrifying problems in walls, and—most serious—civil permitting issues that put the kibosh on what work’s been done. Left with only enough inheritance to patch and repair the exterior of the house—and with the school’s dismal standardized test scores as a final straw—Greg’s mom steers the family toward moving, opening up house-hunting and house-selling storylines (and devastating loyal Rowley, who doesn’t want to lose his best friend). While Greg’s positive about the move, he’s not completely uncaring about Rowley’s action. (And of course, Greg himself is not as unaffected as he wishes.) The gags include effectively placed callbacks to seemingly incidental events (the “stress lizard” brought in on testing day is particularly funny) and a lampoon of after-school-special–style problem books. Just when it seems that the Heffleys really will move, a new sequence of chaotic trouble and property destruction heralds a return to the status quo. Whew.

Readers can still rely on this series to bring laughs. (Graphic/fiction hybrid. 8-12)

Pub Date: Nov. 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4197-3903-3

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Amulet/Abrams

Review Posted Online: Nov. 18, 2019

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