Appealing, accessible stories for teens interested in the arts that will tempt them to become avid readers.

RAW TALENT

From the Orca Limelights series

Paisley McFarland is a freshman in high school who loves to sing but has horrible stage fright in this entry in a performing-arts themed series for reluctant readers.

When a local farm announces a talent show fundraiser, Paisley signs up to sing, but will she be able to pull it off? Like many young people, Paisley is also fighting her mother’s expectations of what she “should” be doing—in her case, singing classical choir pieces rather than pop music. Her best friend, Jasmeer Sharma-Smith, believes in her and convinces the famous actress and singer Maxine Gaston to coach Paisley and help with her performance anxiety. Her private lessons help give her the confidence to go onstage at the upcoming event, but Paisley also has to deal with bullying from Cadence Wang, another student singer. Much like in real life, the negative behavior is not neatly resolved. Paisley is implied white; diversity is indicated through characters’ names. In Offbeat by Megan Clendenan, Rose Callaghan is a Celtic fiddle player who hopes to win a folk festival competition in order to prove to her lawyer mother how serious she is about music she loves rather than the classical music her mother wants her to play. Things go awry when her special violin, left to her by her deceased father, breaks—will she still be able to perform well? The book follows a white default.

Appealing, accessible stories for teens interested in the arts that will tempt them to become avid readers. (Fiction. 12-18)

Pub Date: Aug. 28, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-4598-1834-7

Page Count: 144

Publisher: Orca

Review Posted Online: June 18, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2018

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Sensitive subject matter that could have benefited from a subtler, more sober touch.

RESISTANCE

A Jewish girl joins up with Polish resistance groups to fight for her people against the evils of the Holocaust.

Chaya Lindner is forcibly separated from her family when they are consigned to the Jewish ghetto in Krakow. The 16-year-old is taken in by the leaders of Akiva, a fledgling Jewish resistance group that offers her the opportunity to become a courier, using her fair coloring to pass for Polish and sneak into ghettos to smuggle in supplies and information. Chaya’s missions quickly become more dangerous, taking her on a perilous journey from a disastrous mission in Krakow to the ghastly ghetto of Lodz and eventually to Warsaw to aid the Jews there in their gathering uprising inside the walls of the ghetto. Through it all, she is partnered with a secretive young girl whom she is reluctant to trust. The trajectory of the narrative skews toward the sensational, highlighting moments of resistance via cinematic action sequences but not pausing to linger on the emotional toll of the Holocaust’s atrocities. Younger readers without sufficient historical knowledge may not appreciate the gravity of the events depicted. The principal characters lack depth, and their actions and the situations they find themselves in often require too much suspension of disbelief to pass for realism.

Sensitive subject matter that could have benefited from a subtler, more sober touch. (afterword) (Historical fiction. 12-16)

Pub Date: Aug. 28, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-338-14847-3

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: May 28, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2018

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A stunning debut.

THE REVOLUTION OF EVELYN SERRANO

Set in 1969, Manzano’s first novel offers a realistically mercurial protagonist struggling with her identity in Spanish Harlem.

Fourteen-year-old Rosa María Evelyn del Carmen Serrano is frustrated with life in El Barrio. Tired of working for her mother and stepfather in their bodega, she takes a job at a five-and-dime and hopes to trudge through the rest of the summer. Everything changes when her abuela arrives, taking over Evelyn’s bedroom and bearing secrets of the family’s involvement in Puerto Rico’s tumultuous history. When a group called the Young Lords begins working to bring positive changes to the neighborhood, some residents are resistant, including Evelyn’s mother. Led by her grandmother’s example, Evelyn begins to take an interest in the efforts of the activist group. As the months pass, the three generations of women begin to see one another’s perspectives, and Evelyn realizes the importance of her Puerto Rican heritage. Like most real-world teens, she changes subtly, rather than through one earth-shattering epiphany. The author effectively captures this shifting perception in the dialogue and Evelyn’s first-person narration. Secondary characters of surprising dimension round out the plot and add to the novel’s cultural authenticity, as do the Spanish and Spanglish words and phrases sprinkled throughout the text so seamlessly that a glossary would be moot.

A stunning debut. (author’s note, recommended reading) (Historical novel. 12 & up)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-545-32505-9

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Sept. 26, 2012

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