Though unrealistically pat in the end, it offers a positive message that in life, good and bad come together.

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LUCKY LITTLE THINGS

What is luck? Is it something that happens to you, or is it perhaps everything that happens to you? Emma Macintyre will have to figure that out.

As the story opens, an unsigned letter instructs Emma to write a list of 10 lucky things she wants to have happen and to check her list at month’s end to see what her good luck has brought her. Emma is not having a good eighth-grade year. Aunt Jenny—who wasn’t really her aunt but her single mom’s best friend—died six weeks ago, leaving a big hole in their lives. And her best friend, Savvy, got a new phone and is now more interested in texting, Instagramming, Snapchatting, and trying to fit in with the popular kids than in hanging out with Emma. As the month progresses, good things happen to her: She lands the lead part in the school play, falls in love (though not with the boy on her list, who turns out to be a creep); but bad things also happen: Savvy unwisely sends a topless photo of herself to a boy. In the devastating aftermath, Savvy’s moms withdraw her from school. Emma narrates, a convincing young adolescent whose close relationship with her mother is forged in part by their mutual suffering at the hands of her alcoholic WASP grandmother, who comments on the biracial girl’s “dusky coloring,” inherited from her absent Colombian dad. The savagery of middle school social dynamics will resonate.

Though unrealistically pat in the end, it offers a positive message that in life, good and bad come together. (Fiction. 10-14)

Pub Date: July 24, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-374-30652-6

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: May 14, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2018

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An endearing protagonist runs the first, fast leg of Reynolds' promising relay.

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GHOST

From the Track series , Vol. 1

Castle “Ghost” Cranshaw feels like he’s been running ever since his dad pulled that gun on him and his mom—and used it.

His dad’s been in jail three years now, but Ghost still feels the trauma, which is probably at the root of the many “altercations” he gets into at middle school. When he inserts himself into a practice for a local elite track team, the Defenders, he’s fast enough that the hard-as-nails coach decides to put him on the team. Ghost is surprised to find himself caring enough about being on the team that he curbs his behavior to avoid “altercations.” But Ma doesn’t have money to spare on things like fancy running shoes, so Ghost shoplifts a pair that make his feet feel impossibly light—and his conscience correspondingly heavy. Ghost’s narration is candid and colloquial, reminiscent of such original voices as Bud Caldwell and Joey Pigza; his level of self-understanding is both believably childlike and disarming in its perception. He is self-focused enough that secondary characters initially feel one-dimensional, Coach in particular, but as he gets to know them better, so do readers, in a way that unfolds naturally and pleasingly. His three fellow “newbies” on the Defenders await their turns to star in subsequent series outings. Characters are black by default; those few white people in Ghost’s world are described as such.

An endearing protagonist runs the first, fast leg of Reynolds' promising relay. (Fiction. 10-14)

Pub Date: Aug. 30, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-4814-5015-7

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Caitlyn Dlouhy/Atheneum

Review Posted Online: July 20, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2016

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DRAMA

From award winner Telgemeier (Smile, 2010), a pitch-perfect graphic novel portrayal of a middle school musical, adroitly capturing the drama both on and offstage.

Seventh-grader Callie Marin is over-the-moon to be on stage crew again this year for Eucalyptus Middle School’s production of Moon over Mississippi. Callie's just getting over popular baseball jock and eighth-grader Greg, who crushed her when he left Callie to return to his girlfriend, Bonnie, the stuck-up star of the play. Callie's healing heart is quickly captured by Justin and Jesse Mendocino, the two very cute twins who are working on the play with her. Equally determined to make the best sets possible with a shoestring budget and to get one of the Mendocino boys to notice her, the immensely likable Callie will find this to be an extremely drama-filled experience indeed. The palpably engaging and whip-smart characterization ensures that the charisma and camaraderie run high among those working on the production. When Greg snubs Callie in the halls and misses her reference to Guys and Dolls, one of her friends assuredly tells her, "Don't worry, Cal. We’re the cool kids….He's the dork." With the clear, stylish art, the strongly appealing characters and just the right pinch of drama, this book will undoubtedly make readers stand up and cheer.

Brava!  (Graphic fiction. 10-14)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-545-32698-8

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Graphix/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: July 22, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2012

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