A surefire win of a read expressly made for young Black boys to cherish.

J.D. AND THE GREAT BARBER BATTLE

From the J.D. the Kid Barber series , Vol. 1

Meridian, Mississippi, third grader J.D. has a passion for the arts and a dream of rising beyond the embarrassment of a troubled haircut.

For many Black boys, hairline awareness hits hard in those preteen years, and the jeers and dozens of the schoolyard start to pull at kids who can’t show up as the best versions of themselves. This is the predicament in which young J.D. finds himself. He recognizes the family’s financial challenges, as his mother strives to make do with the support of his grandparents. She’s in school again, and the rare quality time that they get comes when she cuts his hair. But no longer can J.D. get past the looks and chuckles his shaky line attracts, so he takes his mama’s clippers into his own hands and discovers he has a true gift with them. He even turns this art into a successful business, much like the real-life story of the author, a master barber. However, in J.D.’s world, Henry Jr., proprietor of Meridian’s official barbershop, isn’t just going to let a supremely talented kid come and take away his clientele. What will happen when these two barbers battle it out? Everything about this story feels like a beloved barbershop tall tale: quite heroic, maybe a bit unbelievable, yet full of intrigue and entertaining as all get out. This is authentic storytelling, supported by Roberts’ vigorous cartoons—full of styles that are straight fire.

A surefire win of a read expressly made for young Black boys to cherish. (Fiction. 6-10)

Pub Date: Feb. 23, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-593-11152-9

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Kokila

Review Posted Online: Dec. 15, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2021

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Good Guys and Bad get just deserts in the end, and Stanley gets plenty of opportunities to display pluck and valor in this...

HOLES

Sentenced to a brutal juvenile detention camp for a crime he didn't commit, a wimpy teenager turns four generations of bad family luck around in this sunburnt tale of courage, obsession, and buried treasure from Sachar (Wayside School Gets a Little Stranger, 1995, etc.).

Driven mad by the murder of her black beau, a schoolteacher turns on the once-friendly, verdant town of Green Lake, Texas, becomes feared bandit Kissin' Kate Barlow, and dies, laughing, without revealing where she buried her stash. A century of rainless years later, lake and town are memories—but, with the involuntary help of gangs of juvenile offenders, the last descendant of the last residents is still digging. Enter Stanley Yelnats IV, great-grandson of one of Kissin' Kate's victims and the latest to fall to the family curse of being in the wrong place at the wrong time; under the direction of The Warden, a woman with rattlesnake venom polish on her long nails, Stanley and each of his fellow inmates dig a hole a day in the rock-hard lake bed. Weeks of punishing labor later, Stanley digs up a clue, but is canny enough to conceal the information of which hole it came from. Through flashbacks, Sachar weaves a complex net of hidden relationships and well-timed revelations as he puts his slightly larger-than-life characters under a sun so punishing that readers will be reaching for water bottles.

Good Guys and Bad get just deserts in the end, and Stanley gets plenty of opportunities to display pluck and valor in this rugged, engrossing adventure. (Fiction. 9-13)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1998

ISBN: 978-0-374-33265-5

Page Count: 233

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2000

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A memorable story of kindness, courage and wonder.

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WONDER

After being home-schooled for years, Auggie Pullman is about to start fifth grade, but he’s worried: How will he fit into middle school life when he looks so different from everyone else?

Auggie has had 27 surgeries to correct facial anomalies he was born with, but he still has a face that has earned him such cruel nicknames as Freak, Freddy Krueger, Gross-out and Lizard face. Though “his features look like they’ve been melted, like the drippings on a candle” and he’s used to people averting their eyes when they see him, he’s an engaging boy who feels pretty ordinary inside. He’s smart, funny, kind and brave, but his father says that having Auggie attend Beecher Prep would be like sending “a lamb to the slaughter.” Palacio divides the novel into eight parts, interspersing Auggie’s first-person narrative with the voices of family members and classmates, wisely expanding the story beyond Auggie’s viewpoint and demonstrating that Auggie’s arrival at school doesn’t test only him, it affects everyone in the community. Auggie may be finding his place in the world, but that world must find a way to make room for him, too.

A memorable story of kindness, courage and wonder. (Fiction. 8-14)

Pub Date: Feb. 14, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-375-86902-0

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: Dec. 3, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2011

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