FEARLESS

Fandom and friendship collide when middle school BFFs are tested.

In this middle-grade graphic stand-alone, Kara Dawson absolutely loves the TV show Shinpi Rider, about a masked cyclist who always perseveres to save the day. Kara’s life is pretty great, basking in Shinpi fandom with her best friend, Alice, and trusty ferret, Gidget. When Alice’s family suddenly moves two towns over, Kara’s world is thrown into upheaval. She decides to skip her first day of school to ride her bike to Alice’s new house and surprise her. Predictably, her journey does not go as expected, but she meets new friends along the way: Joe, a boy struggling to lift a heavy burden; Elaine, whose bike has been stolen by a bully; and Simon, whose older brother is tormenting him. When Kara finally makes it to Alice’s new home, she finds her friend changed. The girls have a falling-out; is their friendship over? Kara’s subsequent self-realization, though clearly spelled out, is approachable and made with a light hand. Kara is flawed and engaging, capturing the adolescent dichotomy of both fearlessness (in her altruism with strangers) and thoughtlessness (with those she cares about). Wilcox’s full-color illustrations emphasize characters’ faces and emotions. Shelve this among Shannon Hale and LeUyen Pham’s Best Friends series or Hope Larson’s All Summer Long (2018). Kara and Alice are White; supporting cast members are diverse.

Real and empathetic. (Graphic fiction. 8-11)

Pub Date: May 4, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-338-35588-8

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Graphix/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: March 17, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2021

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However the compelling fitness of theme and event and the apt but unexpected imagery (the opening sentences compare the...

TUCK EVERLASTING

At a time when death has become an acceptable, even voguish subject in children's fiction, Natalie Babbitt comes through with a stylistic gem about living forever. 

Protected Winnie, the ten-year-old heroine, is not immortal, but when she comes upon young Jesse Tuck drinking from a secret spring in her parents' woods, she finds herself involved with a family who, having innocently drunk the same water some 87 years earlier, haven't aged a moment since. Though the mood is delicate, there is no lack of action, with the Tucks (previously suspected of witchcraft) now pursued for kidnapping Winnie; Mae Tuck, the middle aged mother, striking and killing a stranger who is onto their secret and would sell the water; and Winnie taking Mae's place in prison so that the Tucks can get away before she is hanged from the neck until....? Though Babbitt makes the family a sad one, most of their reasons for discontent are circumstantial and there isn't a great deal of wisdom to be gleaned from their fate or Winnie's decision not to share it. 

However the compelling fitness of theme and event and the apt but unexpected imagery (the opening sentences compare the first week in August when this takes place to "the highest seat of a Ferris wheel when it pauses in its turning") help to justify the extravagant early assertion that had the secret about to be revealed been known at the time of the action, the very earth "would have trembled on its axis like a beetle on a pin." (Fantasy. 9-11)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 1975

ISBN: 0312369816

Page Count: 164

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: April 13, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 1975

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Gentle, encouraging, witty fantasy that may soothe readers suffering from climate anxiety.

THE GOLDEN SWIFT

From the Silver Arrow series , Vol. 2

Children with magical talking steam trains are thrilled by their clever new plan to rescue endangered animals.

Eleven-year-old Kate absolutely adores her secret job—helping animals in need by using the magical locomotive that was a gift from her billionaire wizard uncle. Kate loves riding the Silver Arrow with Uncle Herbert; her brother, Tom; and the talking animals they escort to safe places. But now Uncle Herbert is missing, 9-year-old Tom seems more interested in hapkido than their supernatural train, and Kate’s struggling socially and academically thanks to her eco-anxiety. No matter how many animals she helps, no matter how many adults proclaim that climate change is a critical issue, the environment keeps getting worse. One night Kate discovers another train driving on the magical railroad: The Golden Swift is conducted by her classmate Jag, who thinks rescuing stranded creatures isn’t sufficiently radical. When Kate joins him, she feels more inspired and more righteous than ever before. This time, she’s actually making the world better! Kate’s unhappy discoveries of unintended consequences and the moral complexities of her activism are softened by humor. The snarky banter of the talking locomotive is an understated delight, as is the train constructed with, among others, candy and ice cream cars, an invisible car, and a dojo car. Kate and Tom are White; Jag is described as having dark skin and black hair and possibly being Indian. Charming illustrations enhance the text.

Gentle, encouraging, witty fantasy that may soothe readers suffering from climate anxiety. (Fantasy. 8-10)

Pub Date: May 3, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-316-28354-0

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: March 29, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2022

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