Intricate, meticulous, unforgettable.

THE NOTATIONS OF COOPER CAMERON

An attentive observer and methodical worrier, soon-to-be–sixth-grader Cooper Cameron learns about resilience as he works to protect those he loves most.

A bittersweet summer tale set in Minnesota, this book will be most appreciated by those who enjoy a thoughtful story. Literally. This narrative is entirely expressed through Cooper’s thoroughly engrossing thoughts, and it’s full of the musings and observations that he records in a small notebook. Two years after the death of his grandfather and the onset of intrusive thoughts about death and his family’s endangerment, Cooper develops patterns and behaviors to ensure their protection, such as reading the words, lines, and pages of books three times over, washing his hands in invisible water, and closely observing everything. But even as he endeavors to keep his family from bursting into flames, Cooper’s behavior worries everyone and puts pressure on an already-strained fault line between his parents and also between himself and the rest of the family. O’Reilly (The Secret of Goldenrod, 2016) delivers a nuanced and empowering narrative that uplifts rather than undermines Cooper’s unique perspective on his world, even as he works to reconcile that perspective with his family’s. The book pulls no punches with regard to the realities of intolerance (even among loved ones) toward neurodivergence while nevertheless validating Cooper’s methods of making meaning as he navigates trauma and grief on his own terms. Racial markers are absent, as is any evidence of racialized experience.

Intricate, meticulous, unforgettable. (author’s note) (Fiction. 9-13)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-5124-0415-9

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Carolrhoda

Review Posted Online: Aug. 7, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2017

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This engaging, heartwarming story does everything one can ask of a book, and then some.

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WHEN STARS ARE SCATTERED

A Somali boy living in a refugee camp in Kenya tries to make a future for himself and his brother in this near memoir interpreted as a graphic novel by collaborator Jamieson.

Omar Mohamed lives in Dadaab Refugee Camp in Kenya with his younger brother, Hassan, who has a seizure disorder, and Fatuma, an elderly woman assigned to foster them in their parents’ absence. The boys’ father was killed in Somalia’s civil war, prompting them to flee on foot when they were separated from their mother. They desperately hope she is still alive and looking for them, as they are for her. The book covers six years, during which Omar struggles with decisions about attending school and how much hope to have about opportunities to resettle in a new land, like the United States. Through Omar’s journey, and those of his friends and family members, readers get a close, powerful view of the trauma and uncertainty that attend life as a refugee as well as the faith, love, and support from unexpected quarters that get people through it. Jamieson’s characteristically endearing art, warmly colored by Geddy, perfectly complements Omar’s story, conjuring memorable and sympathetic characters who will stay with readers long after they close the book. Photographs of the brothers and an afterword provide historical context; Mohamed and Jamieson each contribute an author’s note.

This engaging, heartwarming story does everything one can ask of a book, and then some. (Graphic memoir. 9-13)

Pub Date: April 14, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-525-55391-5

Page Count: 264

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: Jan. 26, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2020

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A sly, side-splitting hoot from start to finish.

THE MECHANICAL MIND OF JOHN COGGIN

The dreary prospect of spending a lifetime making caskets instead of wonderful inventions prompts a young orphan to snatch up his little sister and flee. Where? To the circus, of course.

Fortunately or otherwise, John and 6-year-old Page join up with Boz—sometime human cannonball for the seedy Wandering Wayfarers and a “vertically challenged” trickster with a fantastic gift for sowing chaos. Alas, the budding engineer barely has time to settle in to begin work on an experimental circus wagon powered by chicken poop and dubbed (with questionable forethought) the Autopsy. The hot pursuit of malign and indomitable Great-Aunt Beauregard, the Coggins’ only living relative, forces all three to leave the troupe for further flights and misadventures. Teele spins her adventure around a sturdy protagonist whose love for his little sister is matched only by his fierce desire for something better in life for them both and tucks in an outstanding supporting cast featuring several notably strong-minded, independent women (Page, whose glare “would kill spiders dead,” not least among them). Better yet, in Boz she has created a scene-stealing force of nature, a free spirit who’s never happier than when he’s stirring up mischief. A climactic clutch culminating in a magnificently destructive display of fireworks leaves the Coggin sibs well-positioned for bright futures. (Illustrations not seen.)

A sly, side-splitting hoot from start to finish. (Adventure. 11-13)

Pub Date: April 12, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-06-234510-3

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Walden Pond Press/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2016

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