This story of friendship, courage, and survival is an imperfect peek into the Tibetan culture and way of life.

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RUNNING ON THE ROOF OF THE WORLD

A Tibetan girl and her friend find themselves on a quest through the Himalayas.

Twelve-year-old narrator Tashi’s small Tibetan village is suffering under the heel of the Chinese military. After one of the villagers publicly sets himself on fire to protest the harshness of the occupation (a graphic event that continues to haunt Tash through the book and might well haunt readers), soldiers come to arrest Tash’s parents as suspected dissidents. Tash and her best friend, Samdup, barely escape, taking with them the illegal resistance leaflets and a coded letter her journalist dad gives her. With their two borrowed yaks, the two children are determined to make the long, dangerous trek through the Himalayas into India to seek help from the Dalai Lama, who is living there in exile. Short chapters and simple sentence structure keep the pages turning. The tale diligently provides details of Tibetan daily life, customs, and culture, and it appropriately raises questions about freedom, occupation, and exile. However, sometimes the characters’ voices sound very Western, and readers familiar with the culture may wonder at the yaks’ Western names, the characters’ nicknames, and their use of Western rather than Tibetan address for their parents. Plot-driven conveniences and a tidy ending further undercut the story’s realism. A brief bulleted list of facts concludes the story, but there is no map—an absence readers may feel.

This story of friendship, courage, and survival is an imperfect peek into the Tibetan culture and way of life. (Adventure. 10-14)

Pub Date: May 1, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-61620-819-6

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Algonquin

Review Posted Online: March 4, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2018

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An engrossing, humorous, and vitally important graphic novel that should be required reading in every middle school in...

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NEW KID

From the New Kid series , Vol. 1

Jordan Banks takes readers down the rabbit hole and into his mostly white prep school in this heartbreakingly accurate middle-grade tale of race, class, microaggressions, and the quest for self-identity.

He may be the new kid, but as an African-American boy from Washington Heights, that stigma entails so much more than getting lost on the way to homeroom. Riverdale Academy Day School, located at the opposite end of Manhattan, is a world away, and Jordan finds himself a stranger in a foreign land, where pink clothing is called salmon, white administrators mistake a veteran African-American teacher for the football coach, and white classmates ape African-American Vernacular English to make themselves sound cool. Jordan’s a gifted artist, and his drawings blend with the narrative to give readers a full sense of his two worlds and his methods of coping with existing in between. Craft skillfully employs the graphic-novel format to its full advantage, giving his readers a delightful and authentic cast of characters who, along with New York itself, pop off the page with vibrancy and nuance. Shrinking Jordan to ant-sized proportions upon his entering the school cafeteria, for instance, transforms the lunchroom into a grotesque Wonderland in which his lack of social standing becomes visually arresting and viscerally uncomfortable.

An engrossing, humorous, and vitally important graphic novel that should be required reading in every middle school in America. (Graphic fiction. 10-14)

Pub Date: Feb. 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-06-269120-0

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Oct. 15, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2018

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Is this the end? Well, no…the series will stagger on through at least one more scheduled sequel.

CAPTAIN UNDERPANTS AND THE TERRIFYING RETURN OF TIPPY TINKLETROUSERS

From the Captain Underpants series , Vol. 9

Sure signs that the creative wells are running dry at last, the Captain’s ninth, overstuffed outing both recycles a villain (see Book 4) and offers trendy anti-bullying wish fulfillment.

Not that there aren’t pranks and envelope-pushing quips aplenty. To start, in an alternate ending to the previous episode, Principal Krupp ends up in prison (“…a lot like being a student at Jerome Horwitz Elementary School, except that the prison had better funding”). There, he witnesses fellow inmate Tippy Tinkletrousers (aka Professor Poopypants) escape in a giant Robo-Suit (later reduced to time-traveling trousers). The villain sets off after George and Harold, who are in juvie (“not much different from our old school…except that they have library books here.”). Cut to five years previous, in a prequel to the whole series. George and Harold link up in kindergarten to reduce a quartet of vicious bullies to giggling insanity with a relentless series of pranks involving shaving cream, spiders, effeminate spoof text messages and friendship bracelets. Pilkey tucks both topical jokes and bathroom humor into the cartoon art, and ups the narrative’s lexical ante with terms like “pharmaceuticals” and “theatrical flair.” Unfortunately, the bullies’ sad fates force Krupp to resign, so he’s not around to save the Earth from being destroyed later on by Talking Toilets and other invaders…

Is this the end? Well, no…the series will stagger on through at least one more scheduled sequel. (Fantasy. 10-12)

Pub Date: Aug. 28, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-545-17534-0

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: June 20, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2012

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