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WELCOME BACK, MAPLE MEHTA-COHEN

A layered, utterly readable novel about a biracial protagonist grappling with dyslexia.

Eleven-year-old Maple Mehta-Cohen loves words.

She loves hearing her father read books aloud to her before bedtime, and she loves dictating her own stories into the digital voice recorder that she keeps in her pocket at all times—she dreams up mysteries about a sleuth called Mira Epstein-Patel. Maybe that’s why it took until fifth grade for a teacher to finally notice that Maple has serious struggles with reading. After screening tests reveal that she exhibits characteristics of dyslexia, Maple learns that, unlike her best friends, she is going to have to repeat the fifth grade. Although her friends assure her that nothing has to change between them, on the first day of school, they ignore her. In her new fifth grade classroom, Maple tries to connect with people, but her attempts are tripped up by her embarrassment, and she lies about why she’s been held back. Struggling with her friendships and her self-esteem, Maple wonders who she’s become—and how she can get back to being her old self, a person that she once truly loved. Maple’s narratorial voice is frank and quirky, and her journey with coming to terms with her learning disability is layered, believable, and well researched. Maple has a White Jewish mother and an Indian father who coined the term Hin-Jew to describe her. The book repeatedly references her Indian identity, but her Jewish side is less developed.

A layered, utterly readable novel about a biracial protagonist grappling with dyslexia. (Fiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: Oct. 12, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-5362-1558-8

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: Aug. 31, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2021

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WRECKING BALL

From the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series , Vol. 14

Readers can still rely on this series to bring laughs.

The Heffley family’s house undergoes a disastrous attempt at home improvement.

When Great Aunt Reba dies, she leaves some money to the family. Greg’s mom calls a family meeting to determine what to do with their share, proposing home improvements and then overruling the family’s cartoonish wish lists and instead pushing for an addition to the kitchen. Before bringing in the construction crew, the Heffleys attempt to do minor maintenance and repairs themselves—during which Greg fails at the work in various slapstick scenes. Once the professionals are brought in, the problems keep getting worse: angry neighbors, terrifying problems in walls, and—most serious—civil permitting issues that put the kibosh on what work’s been done. Left with only enough inheritance to patch and repair the exterior of the house—and with the school’s dismal standardized test scores as a final straw—Greg’s mom steers the family toward moving, opening up house-hunting and house-selling storylines (and devastating loyal Rowley, who doesn’t want to lose his best friend). While Greg’s positive about the move, he’s not completely uncaring about Rowley’s action. (And of course, Greg himself is not as unaffected as he wishes.) The gags include effectively placed callbacks to seemingly incidental events (the “stress lizard” brought in on testing day is particularly funny) and a lampoon of after-school-special–style problem books. Just when it seems that the Heffleys really will move, a new sequence of chaotic trouble and property destruction heralds a return to the status quo. Whew.

Readers can still rely on this series to bring laughs. (Graphic/fiction hybrid. 8-12)

Pub Date: Nov. 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4197-3903-3

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Amulet/Abrams

Review Posted Online: Nov. 18, 2019

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GHOSTS

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 1, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2016

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