A quiet story with a likable protagonist.

TINY INFINITIES

The summer she turns 13, Alice struggles to hold on to the family life that has been slipping away since her mother’s major car accident a year ago.

At the request of her mother, who has been in bed and depressed since her accident, Alice’s father is moving out, and her twin brothers are going to stay with their aunt. If she can’t keep her family together, Alice hopes she can at least reach her swim team goals; she practices twice daily and has numerous competitions. The night Alice stays out late to avoid watching her father leave, she saves Piper, a young girl who just moved in next door, from being hit by a car. Alice soon realizes that something is wrong: Piper doesn’t speak, doesn’t seem to hear, and doesn’t seem to express emotion as expected. Alice is hired as a mother’s helper for the family, and one night she hears Piper utter a word. Telling Piper’s parents about it upsets them, and Alice becomes determined to prove to everyone that she did not make this up. Diehl, a debut author, has a lovely writing style and wastes no time getting readers on Alice’s side. While this is not a fast-paced novel and at times even feels meandering, its exploration of relationships—among family, friends both old and new, and crushes—and responsibility are worth diving into. While some minor characters have names of diverse origins, the main characters are not described in terms of ethnicity or race, implying a white default.

A quiet story with a likable protagonist. (Fiction. 10-14)

Pub Date: May 8, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-4521-6335-2

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Chronicle Books

Review Posted Online: March 18, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 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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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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