An emotionally perceptive story of awakening compassion for self and others.

ACROSS THE POND

A new life in a new country does not, at first, bring the fresh start Callie hoped for.

Seventh grader Callie; her 7-year-old brother, Jax; and their parents leave San Diego after inheriting a castle in the Scottish countryside. Callie’s parents, who as grad students rented a cottage on the grounds and became close to the late owner, Lady Whittington-Spence, begin much-needed renovations. Callie, who departed California ostracized by her friends, imagines the cachet of being the exotic American in her new school. However, while the ebullient Jax quickly settles in, Callie embarrasses herself on her first visit to the local school. Burning with shame, she persuades her parents to let her try home schooling and (eventually) makes friends with Sid, the prickly granddaughter of her parents’ gardener. Most excitingly, she uncovers a journal kept by one Pippa Spence when she was evacuated to the Highlands during World War II. Pippa was a keen bird-watcher, and, as Callie reads her journal, excerpts of which are interspersed, and explores the grounds and its bird life with Sid, she starts to put down roots and gain a new perspective on painful events back home. This character-driven story of introspection and growth will appeal to thoughtful readers. The intensely awkward self-consciousness of the middle school years is presented with realistic sensitivity and insight. Main characters are White, and there is natural, realistic diversity in the supporting cast.

An emotionally perceptive story of awakening compassion for self and others. (Fiction. 10-14)

Pub Date: March 16, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-5344-7121-4

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Atheneum

Review Posted Online: Dec. 15, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2021

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An endearing protagonist runs the first, fast leg of Reynolds' promising relay.

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  • New York Times Bestseller

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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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DRAMA

From award winner Telgemeier (Smile, 2010), a pitch-perfect graphic novel portrayal of a middle school musical, adroitly capturing the drama both on and offstage.

Seventh-grader Callie Marin is over-the-moon to be on stage crew again this year for Eucalyptus Middle School’s production of Moon over Mississippi. Callie's just getting over popular baseball jock and eighth-grader Greg, who crushed her when he left Callie to return to his girlfriend, Bonnie, the stuck-up star of the play. Callie's healing heart is quickly captured by Justin and Jesse Mendocino, the two very cute twins who are working on the play with her. Equally determined to make the best sets possible with a shoestring budget and to get one of the Mendocino boys to notice her, the immensely likable Callie will find this to be an extremely drama-filled experience indeed. The palpably engaging and whip-smart characterization ensures that the charisma and camaraderie run high among those working on the production. When Greg snubs Callie in the halls and misses her reference to Guys and Dolls, one of her friends assuredly tells her, "Don't worry, Cal. We’re the cool kids….He's the dork." With the clear, stylish art, the strongly appealing characters and just the right pinch of drama, this book will undoubtedly make readers stand up and cheer.

Brava!  (Graphic fiction. 10-14)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-545-32698-8

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Graphix/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: July 22, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2012

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