This won’t fly off shelves, but it’ll be just the right mirror for a very particular reader.

READ REVIEW

QUINTESSENCE

Fantasy with a STEM infusion.

Alma has what her family calls “episodes,” or panic attacks, and her parents are worried. They’ve recently moved to Four Points, and they really want Alma to fit in. She doesn’t. But when she sees a flyer for Astronomy Club, she knows it’ll please her parents, and so she goes. There are only two other kids when she gets there: Hugo, who doesn’t attend regular classes because he’s very advanced (and also socially awkward), and Shirin, who is the first person to notice that the flyers seem to have been very specifically placed to attract these particular children. Then there’s the ShopKeeper, whose store is never open but whom Alma is always running into—and who always seems to know what she needs to do next. What’s next is convincing her friends that the other night, Alma saw a star fall from the sky, and as it fell, it became a person—a Starling. This complicated setup gives way to a quest involving astrophysics and cosmology, as the children sneak around town trying to put together all the elements required to send a star back to the sky where she belongs. Both Alma’s severe anxiety and panic attacks and Hugo’s social ineptitude are portrayed sensitively, not as jokes. Alma is white, Hugo appears black, and Shirin is Persian American.

This won’t fly off shelves, but it’ll be just the right mirror for a very particular reader. (Fantasy. 8-12)

Pub Date: May 19, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-374-30976-3

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: March 15, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2020

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Telgemeier’s bold colors, superior visual storytelling, and unusual subject matter will keep readers emotionally engaged and...

GHOSTS

Catrina narrates the story of her mixed-race (Latino/white) family’s move from Southern California to Bahía de la Luna on the Northern California coast.

Dad has a new job, but it’s little sister Maya’s lungs that motivate the move: she has had cystic fibrosis since birth—a degenerative breathing condition. Despite her health, Maya loves adventure, even if her lungs suffer for it and even when Cat must follow to keep her safe. When Carlos, a tall, brown, and handsome teen Ghost Tour guide introduces the sisters to the Bahía ghosts—most of whom were Spanish-speaking Mexicans when alive—they fascinate Maya and she them, but the terrified Cat wants only to get herself and Maya back to safety. When the ghost adventure leads to Maya’s hospitalization, Cat blames both herself and Carlos, which makes seeing him at school difficult. As Cat awakens to the meaning of Halloween and Day of the Dead in this strange new home, she comes to understand the importance of the ghosts both to herself and to Maya. Telgemeier neatly balances enough issues that a lesser artist would split them into separate stories and delivers as much delight textually as visually. The backmatter includes snippets from Telgemeier’s sketchbook and a photo of her in Día makeup.

Telgemeier’s bold colors, superior visual storytelling, and unusual subject matter will keep readers emotionally engaged and unable to put down this compelling tale. (Graphic fiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: Sept. 13, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-545-54061-2

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: July 2, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2016

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A deftly told story that dramatizes how Danes appointed themselves bodyguards—not only for their king, who was in the habit...

NUMBER THE STARS

The author of the Anastasia books as well as more serious fiction (Rabble Starkey, 1987) offers her first historical fiction—a story about the escape of the Jews from Denmark in 1943.

Five years younger than Lisa in Carol Matas' Lisa's War (1989), Annemarie Johansen has, at 10, known three years of Nazi occupation. Though ever cautious and fearful of the ubiquitous soldiers, she is largely unaware of the extent of the danger around her; the Resistance kept even its participants safer by telling them as little as possible, and Annemarie has never been told that her older sister Lise died in its service. When the Germans plan to round up the Jews, the Johansens take in Annemarie's friend, Ellen Rosen, and pretend she is their daughter; later, they travel to Uncle Hendrik's house on the coast, where the Rosens and other Jews are transported by fishing boat to Sweden. Apart from Lise's offstage death, there is little violence here; like Annemarie, the reader is protected from the full implications of events—but will be caught up in the suspense and menace of several encounters with soldiers and in Annemarie's courageous run as courier on the night of the escape. The book concludes with the Jews' return, after the war, to homes well kept for them by their neighbors.

A deftly told story that dramatizes how Danes appointed themselves bodyguards—not only for their king, who was in the habit of riding alone in Copenhagen, but for their Jews. (Historical fiction. 9-12)

Pub Date: April 1, 1989

ISBN: 0547577095

Page Count: 156

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin

Review Posted Online: Oct. 17, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 1989

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