Another bundle of lightly delivered life lessons wrapped in a cozy blanket of wish fulfillment.

MY LIFE AS A BILLIONAIRE

From the My Life series , Vol. 10

A winning lottery ticket gives 12-year-old Derek Fallon a taste of what it’s like to have massive, fantastic wealth!

As in his previous nine My Life series outings, Derek discovers that opportunity brings ups, downs, and negotiations with both himself and others. When the Powerball ticket that he gets in lieu of the $40 he was promised for helping his friend’s big brother, Jamie, move some equipment comes up a winner, the first check alone is big enough to cover not only personal indulgences like a pair of $9,000 sneakers, but a cool BMX wheelchair for his buddy Umberto and a massive donation to the Greta Thunberg Foundation. It also leaves him feeling like an outsider, since everyone now treats him differently, and guilty to have so much without having earned it. Luckily, he also has common-sensical friends to keep his head straight and indulgent but rock-solid parents to check his wilder impulses while filling him in on the basics of money management. He also has Jamie, with whom he agreed to split the proceeds and who goes hog wild with his share, as a cautionary example when questions arise about the ticket’s legitimacy. Stick figure drawings in the margins add wry visual definitions and commentary to Derek’s dazed and dazzled narrative. The cast presents as White throughout.

Another bundle of lightly delivered life lessons wrapped in a cozy blanket of wish fulfillment. (Fiction. 10-13)

Pub Date: April 6, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-250-26181-6

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: Feb. 9, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2021

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The novel’s dryness is mitigated in part by its exploration of immigrant identity, xenophobia, and hate crimes.

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Seventh graders Karina Chopra and Chris Daniels live in Houston, Texas, and although they are next-door neighbors, they have different interests and their paths rarely cross.

In fact, Karina, whose family is Indian, doesn’t want to be friends with Chris, whose family is white, because the boys he hangs out with are mean to her. Things change when Karina’s immigrant paternal grandfather, Papa, moves in with Karina’s family. Papa begins tutoring Chris in math, and, as a result, Chris and Karina begin spending time with each other. Karina even comes to realize that Chris is not at all like the rest of his friends and that she should give him a second chance. One day, when Karina, Papa, and Chris are walking home from school, something terrible happens: They are assaulted by a stranger who calls Papa a Muslim terrorist, and he is badly injured. The children find themselves wanting to speak out for Papa and for other first-generation Americans like him. Narrated by Karina and Chris in alternate chapters, Bajaj’s novel gives readers varied and valuable perspectives of what it means to be first- and third-generation Indian Americans in an increasingly diverse nation. Unfortunately, however, Bajaj’s characters are quite bland, and the present-tense narrative voices of the preteen protagonists lack both distinction and authenticity.

The novel’s dryness is mitigated in part by its exploration of immigrant identity, xenophobia, and hate crimes. (Fiction. 10-13)

Pub Date: Aug. 27, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-525-51724-5

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Nancy Paulsen Books

Review Posted Online: May 26, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2019

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A thought-provoking title for sophisticated readers.

THE MYSTERIOUS DISAPPEARANCE OF AIDAN S. (AS TOLD TO HIS BROTHER)

A missing boy returns from another world. Will anyone believe his story?

When 12-year-old Aidan goes missing, his family and community members search everywhere in their small town. Things progress from worrying to terrifying when Aidan doesn’t turn up. No note. No trace. Not even a body. Six days later, Aidan’s younger brother, Lucas, finds Aidan alive in the attic they’d searched many times before. Aidan claims he was in a magical world called Aveinieu and that he got there through a dresser. While everyone around the brothers searches for answers, Lucas gets Aidan to open up about Aveinieu. Lucas, who narrates the story, grapples with the impossibility of the situation as he pieces it all together. Is any part of Aidan’s story true? YA veteran Levithan’s first foray into middle grade is a poignant tale of brotherly love and family trauma. The introspective writing, funneled through a precocious narrator, is as much about what truth means as about what happened. Though an engaging read for the way it makes readers consider and reconsider the mystery, the slow burn may deter those craving tidy resolutions. Bookish readers, however, will delight in the homages to well-known books, including When You Reach Me and The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. The cast defaults to White; the matter-of-fact inclusion of LGBTQ+ characters is noteworthy.

A thought-provoking title for sophisticated readers. (Mystery/fantasy. 10-13)

Pub Date: Feb. 2, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-984848-59-8

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: Dec. 25, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2021

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