Struggles to reach the summit.


A young girl dreams of climbing mountains but must defy expectations to do so.

Having grown up in Yosemite, 11-year-old Floy now feels stifled by the classroom walls and gray skies of San Francisco, where her family was forced to move some months earlier. But all that changes when family decisions lead her back to Yosemite. Once she arrives, Floy feels more alive than ever, determined to summit Half Dome. But society’s expectations for a “young lady” in 1876 threaten that goal. Floy must either convince her father to take her along on one of his expeditions or scale it alone. Based on the life of Florence Hutchings, the first European American born in Yosemite, the story offers encouragement on its surface for children to follow their dreams. However, the premise itself—a white girl bucking conventions—limits its readership. While Floy lives fully, setting lofty goals beyond her station, Native character Sally Ann exists to serve; unlike Floy’s, her life is defined by the time “before,” and her dreams are likewise tied to tradition. Other moments prove problematic as well. Although describing Yosemite as a “sublime land” and Floy as a “pilgrim” might reflect white sentiments of the time, without clear counterbalances it reinforces the mythic principle of Manifest Destiny. And when Floy realizes that a changing world means “there will no longer be a place” for Sally Ann and her family, unacknowledged white privilege allows her to dismiss the uncomfortable feelings she experiences and avoid confronting truth.

Struggles to reach the summit. (hiking tips, author’s note) (Historical fiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: May 12, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-930238-99-2

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Yosemite Conservancy

Review Posted Online: May 3, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2020

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There’s a monster in Sidwell, Massachusetts, that can only be seen at night or, as Twig reveals, if passersby are near her house.

It’s her older brother, James, born with wings just like every male in the Fowler line for the last 200 years. They were cursed by the Witch of Sidwell, left brokenhearted by their forebear Lowell Fowler. Twig and James are tired of the secret and self-imposed isolation. Lonely Twig narrates, bringing the small town and its characters to life, intertwining events present and past, and describing the effects of the spell on her fractured family’s daily life. Longing for some normalcy and companionship, she befriends new-neighbor Julia while James falls in love with Julia’s sister, Agate—only to learn they are descendants of the Witch. James and Agate seem as star-crossed as their ancestors, especially when the townspeople attribute a spate of petty thefts and graffiti protesting the development of the woods to the monster and launch a hunt. The mix of romance and magic is irresistible and the tension, compelling. With the help of friends and through a series of self-realizations and discoveries, Twig grows more self-assured. She is certain she knows how to change the curse. In so doing, Twig not only changes James’ fate, but her own, for the first time feeling the fullness of family, friends and hope for the future.

Enchanting. (Magical realism. 9-12)

Pub Date: March 10, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-385-38958-7

Page Count: 208

Publisher: Wendy Lamb/Random

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2015

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


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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