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 16, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2021

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Contrived at some points, polemic at others, but a stout defense of the right to read.


A shy fourth-grader leads the revolt when censors decimate her North Carolina school’s library.

In a tale that is dominated but not overwhelmed by its agenda, Gratz takes Amy Anne, a young black bibliophile, from the devastating discovery that her beloved From the Mixed-up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler has been removed from the library at the behest of Mrs. Spencer, a despised classmate’s mom, to a qualified defense of intellectual freedom at a school board meeting: “Nobody has the right to tell you what books you can and can’t read except your parents.” Meanwhile, as more books vanish, Amy Anne sets up a secret lending library of banned titles in her locker—a ploy that eventually gets her briefly suspended by the same unsympathetic principal who fires the school’s doctorate-holding white librarian for defiantly inviting Dav Pilkey in for an author visit. Characters frequently serve as mouthpieces for either side, sometimes deadly serious and other times tongue-in-cheek (“I don’t know about you guys, but ever since I read Wait Till Helen Comes, I’ve been thinking about worshipping Satan”). Indeed, Amy Anne’s narrative is positively laced with real titles that have been banned or challenged and further enticing teasers for them.

Contrived at some points, polemic at others, but a stout defense of the right to read. (discussion guide) (Fiction. 9-11)

Pub Date: Aug. 29, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-7653-8556-7

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Starscape/Tom Doherty

Review Posted Online: June 4, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2017

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


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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