Warm, if frothy, acknowledgment of the value of keeping true, longtime friends.

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ADDIE BELL'S SHORTCUT TO GROWING UP

On the eve of her 12th birthday Addie wishes she were 16.

For Addie, short for Adeline (white, and with a stay-at-home mom and working dad), life is comfortable and benign in Brody’s amiable, lighthearted friendship drama. Addie and best friend Grace worship a boy band and hang out in Addie’s backyard playhouse. But Addie is cosmically frustrated with all the things she wishes for but can’t yet have: a cellphone, a dog, permission to wear makeup, a car. An elderly neighbor’s gift of a wishing box provides the way to skip over the rest of middle school. In a moment reminiscent of 13 Going on 30, Addie wakes to find that she’s 16 and besties with her vlog partner, alpha (and mean) girl Clementine. Navigating the intricacies of driving, texting emojis, applying makeup, attending classes in trigonometry and French, and flirting with boys as a 12-year-old makes for a funny, occasionally poignant tale, firmly from Addie’s viewpoint. Other characters are less well-drawn. Despite a connection with a boy who blossoms as a teenager, Addie’s loss and reclamation centers on best friend Grace, coldly distant in the high school version of their lives. Addie’s sorting out of choices by her younger self is done with a light touch, and readers will be satisfied with the outcome.

Warm, if frothy, acknowledgment of the value of keeping true, longtime friends. (Fantasy. 9-12)

Pub Date: Feb. 14, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-399-55510-7

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: Oct. 19, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2016

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A quirky sci-fi adventure with a surprising layer of political irony.

WE'RE NOT FROM HERE

Who knew the survival of the human race would depend on fitting in at school?

With Earth destroyed, humans have successfully petitioned Planet Choom to take them in as refugees. Narrator Lan Mifune and their family (Lan is never gendered in the text) travel there, arriving to a surprise. During the 20-year journey in bio-suspension asleep, Choom’s government has changed, along with their acceptance of humans, and they are asked to leave immediately. With no other alternative, Lan’s mom, Amora Persaud, who’s on the ship’s Governing Council, is able to negotiate a trial run, in which the Mifune family will prove humans can peacefully assimilate. Being the new kid at school is tough anywhere, but on Choom, Lan must navigate the cultures of the werewolflike Kriks; Ororos, who resemble giant marshmallows; and the Zhuri, who resemble giant mosquitoes and express emotions by secreting specific scents. Things get complicated when the Zhuri government executes a smear campaign against humans even as some privately believe humans can be peaceful if given the chance. It’s up to Lan and their family to prove humans can contribute to society. Rodkey deftly mirrors recent debates about refugees and immigrants, twisting them into a black comedy–sci-fi mashup. Racial and ethnic diversity is purposely shown solely through names, hinting via surname that Lan’s family shares mixed Japanese and Indian heritage. The abrupt resolution might leave some in disbelief, but that’s a small price to pay.

A quirky sci-fi adventure with a surprising layer of political irony. (Science fiction. 9-12)

Pub Date: March 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5247-7304-5

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: Nov. 26, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2018

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A smart, fresh take on an old favorite makes for a terrific series kickoff

THE GREAT SHELBY HOLMES

From the Shelby Holmes series , Vol. 1

A modern Sherlock Holmes retelling brings an 11-year-old black John Watson into the sphere of know-it-all 9-year-old white detective Shelby Holmes.

John's an Army brat who's lived in four states already. Now, with his parents' divorce still fresh, the boy who's lived only on military bases must explore the wilds of Harlem. His new life in 221A Baker St. begins inauspiciously, as before he's even finished moving in, his frizzy-haired neighbor blows something up: "BOOM!" But John's great at making friends, and Shelby certainly seems like an interesting kid to know. Oddly loquacious, brusque, and extremely observant, Shelby's locally famous for solving mysteries. John’s swept up in her detecting when a wealthy, brown-skinned classmate enlists their help in the mysterious disappearance of her beloved show dog, Daisy. Whatever could have happened to the prizewinning Cavalier King Charles spaniel? Has she been swiped by a jealous competitor? Has Daisy’s trainer—mysteriously come into enough money to take a secret weekend in Cozumel—been placing bets against his own dog? Brisk pacing, likable characters, a few silly Holmes jokes ("I'm Petunia Cumberbatch," says Shelby while undercover), and a diverse neighborhood, carefully and realistically described by John, are ingredients for success.

A smart, fresh take on an old favorite makes for a terrific series kickoff . (Mystery. 9-11)

Pub Date: Sept. 6, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-68119-051-8

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Review Posted Online: June 22, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2016

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