CALL ME IXCHEL

MAYAN GODDESS OF THE MOON

From the Thinking Girl's Treasury of Glorious Goddesses series , Vol. 1

Think that having “god friends” would be supercool? Think that the key to success is skill with hairdos or marrying a cute sun god?

Ixchel, a self-described “gorgeous Mayan goddess,” lives with her grandfather in the Upperworld but yearns to marry the jealous K’inich Ajaw. The two run off in secret, but Ixchel is killed by a lightning bolt and spends time in the Mayan underworld, Xibalba, before being rescued by her husband. The book concludes with several pages of nonfiction material about the ancient Mayans, a chart that parses myth from fact from fiction, and a bibliography. Despite these and the disclaimer that mythology is meant to be reinvented, this comes across as a transparent attempt to appeal to girls who can only relate to superficial, silly stories and who might not otherwise take their learning seriously. The thin, first-person story is silly and reads like cartoon dialogue. It’s hard to know who the intended audience might be for this peculiar mixture of ancient and contemporary culture, as in contrast to such new standards as the Percy Jackson books, this comes across as disrespectful of both the actual mythology and modern girls. Ixchel’s nonfiction-ish wrap-up of modern Central America sums it up: “If there was a magazine of ‘pop’ goddesses in Mesoamerica, I’m sure I would be on the cover.”

A miss. (cast of characters, glossary, photographs) (Fantasy. 8-12)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-937463-96-0

Page Count: 160

Publisher: Goosebottom Books

Review Posted Online: July 29, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2014

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An inspirational exploration of caring among parent, teacher and child—one of Grimes’ best. (Poetry. 8-12)

WORDS WITH WINGS

In this delightfully spare narrative in verse, Coretta Scott King Award–winning Grimes examines a marriage’s end from the perspective of a child.

Set mostly in the wake of her father’s departure, only-child Gabby reveals with moving clarity in these short first-person poems the hardship she faces relocating with her mother and negotiating the further loss of a good friend while trying to adjust to a new school. Gabby has always been something of a dreamer, but when she begins study in her new class, she finds her thoughts straying even more. She admits: “Some words / sit still on the page / holding a story steady. / … / But other words have wings / that wake my daydreams. / They … / tickle my imagination, / and carry my thoughts away.” To illustrate Gabby’s inner wanderings, Grimes’ narrative breaks from the present into episodic bursts of vivid poetic reminiscence. Luckily, Gabby’s new teacher recognizes this inability to focus to be a coping mechanism and devises a daily activity designed to harness daydreaming’s creativity with a remarkably positive result for both Gabby and the entire class. Throughout this finely wrought narrative, Grimes’ free verse is tight, with perfect breaks of line and effortless shifts from reality to dream states and back.

An inspirational exploration of caring among parent, teacher and child—one of Grimes’ best. (Poetry. 8-12)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-59078-985-8

Page Count: 96

Publisher: Wordsong/Boyds Mills

Review Posted Online: July 17, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2013

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A fast and funny alternative to the Wimpy Kid.

JAKE THE FAKE KEEPS IT REAL

From the Jake the Fake series , Vol. 1

Black sixth-grader Jake Liston can only play one song on the piano. He can’t read music very well, and he can’t improvise. So how did Jake get accepted to the Music and Art Academy? He faked it.

Alongside an eclectic group of academy classmates, and with advice from his best friend, Jake tries to fit in at a school where things like garbage sculpting and writing art reviews of bird poop splatter are the norm. All is well until Jake discovers that the end-of-the-semester talent show is only two weeks away, and Jake is short one very important thing…talent. Or is he? It’s up to Jake to either find the talent that lies within or embarrass himself in front of the entire school. Light and humorous, with Knight’s illustrations adding to the fun, Jake’s story will likely appeal to many middle-grade readers, especially those who might otherwise be reluctant to pick up a book. While the artsy antics may be over-the-top at times, this is a story about something that most preteens can relate to: the struggle to find your authentic self. And in a world filled with books about wanting to fit in with the athletically gifted supercliques, this novel unabashedly celebrates the artsy crowd in all of its quirky, creative glory.

A fast and funny alternative to the Wimpy Kid. (Fiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: March 28, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-553-52351-5

Page Count: 144

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: Dec. 6, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2016

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