Wish fulfillment with surprising meat.

UNBELIEVABLY BORING BART

Bart hides behind a boring facade while secretly working on a video game.

Though Bart claims to be boring, frequent illustrations of the inventive ways Bart sees the world mark him as entertaining from the start. Then Bart discloses that he’s been tasked with defending the Earth against an invasion of the tech-eating Lerkians—only to reveal the phone app he uses to do so is really a game he’s invented that takes inspiration from his difficulties with bullies. When the game goes viral, Bart finds himself spending all of his time debugging it, which comes between him and his only friend—a cyberschooled girl who lives in his apartment building but whom he talks to only via a Snapchat-esque app. With the announcement that a popular YouTube channel will be coming to town to cover Bart’s game, Bart decides to use the show and his proceeds to get revenge on his three bullies—but the turnabout doesn’t work out as he hopes. The bullying storylines play out with nuance—though neither the bullies nor Bart face official consequences for their actions, the interactions lead to introspection and growth. Introverted, white Bart is happy that people like his game, but he prefers a smaller friendship circle—especially his neighbor friend, who is eventually revealed to be a girl of color with disabilities.

Wish fulfillment with surprising meat. (Fiction. 7-12)

Pub Date: Sept. 3, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-316-41153-0

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Jimmy Patterson/Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: May 23, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2018

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For every dreaming girl (and boy) with a pencil in hand (or keyboard) and a story to share. (Memoir/poetry. 8-12)

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BROWN GIRL DREAMING

A multiaward–winning author recalls her childhood and the joy of becoming a writer.

Writing in free verse, Woodson starts with her 1963 birth in Ohio during the civil rights movement, when America is “a country caught / / between Black and White.” But while evoking names such as Malcolm, Martin, James, Rosa and Ruby, her story is also one of family: her father’s people in Ohio and her mother’s people in South Carolina. Moving south to live with her maternal grandmother, she is in a world of sweet peas and collards, getting her hair straightened and avoiding segregated stores with her grandmother. As the writer inside slowly grows, she listens to family stories and fills her days and evenings as a Jehovah’s Witness, activities that continue after a move to Brooklyn to reunite with her mother. The gift of a composition notebook, the experience of reading John Steptoe’s Stevie and Langston Hughes’ poetry, and seeing letters turn into words and words into thoughts all reinforce her conviction that “[W]ords are my brilliance.” Woodson cherishes her memories and shares them with a graceful lyricism; her lovingly wrought vignettes of country and city streets will linger long after the page is turned.

For every dreaming girl (and boy) with a pencil in hand (or keyboard) and a story to share. (Memoir/poetry. 8-12)

Pub Date: Aug. 28, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-399-25251-8

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Nancy Paulsen Books

Review Posted Online: June 25, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2014

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THE WILLOUGHBYS RETURN

From the Willoughbys series

The incompetent parents from The Willoughbys (2008) find themselves thawed by global warming.

Henry and Frances haven’t aged since the accident that buried them in snow and froze them for 30 years in the Swiss Alps. Their Rip van Winkle–ish return is archly comedic, with the pair, a medical miracle, realizing (at last!) how much they’ve lost and how baffled they are now. Meanwhile, their eldest son, Tim, is grown and in charge of his adoptive father’s candy empire, now threatened with destitution by a congressional ban on candy (opposed by an unnamed Bernie Sanders). He is father to 11-year-old Richie, who employs ad-speak whenever he talks about his newest toys, like a remote-controlled car (“The iconic Lamborghini bull adorns the hubcaps and hood”). But Richie envies Winston Poore, the very poor boy next door, who has a toy car carved for him by his itinerant encyclopedia-salesman father. Winston and his sister, Winifred, plan to earn money for essentials by offering their services as companions to lonely Richie while their mother dabbles, spectacularly unsuccessfully, in running a B&B. Lowry’s exaggerated characters and breezy, unlikely plot are highly entertaining. She offers humorous commentary both via footnotes advising readers of odd facts related to the narrative and via Henry and Frances’ reentry challenges. The threads of the story, with various tales of parents gone missing, fortunes lost or never found, and good luck in the end, are gathered most satisfactorily and warmheartedly.

Highly amusing. (Fiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: Sept. 29, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-358-42389-8

Page Count: 176

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: June 16, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2020

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