A compelling work whose intriguing characters readers will miss when they turn the last page.

BEING CLEM

From the Finding Langston Trilogy series , Vol. 3

The highly anticipated conclusion to Cline-Ransome’s Finding Langston trilogy.

Small but smart, Clemson Thurber Jr. has acquired resilience from dealing with his two teenage sisters, who barely tolerate him. Now 9, Clem has lost his father in San Francisco’s 1944 Port Chicago Disaster that killed 320 sailors, most of them Black, who were loading ammunition onto ships. Because of Chicago’s employment discrimination, Clem’s widowed mother works as a domestic to a White family despite her college education. Although Clem believes his mother wants him to follow his Daddy into the Navy, he must face his utter terror of swimming; the water makes him think of his father’s death. Clem befriends a music-loving school bully—the eponymous protagonist of Leaving Lymon (2020)—and appreciates the protection that grants, but when “Country Boy” Langston of Finding Langston (2018) becomes Lymon’s target, Clem starts doubting the ethics of tormenting nice kids. A fight over a book and the discovery of their mutual love of the library seal Clem and Langston’s friendship. A sensitive, bookish budding geographer and cartographer, Clem ultimately honors the moral compass his parents have instilled in him. Like the other two entries, this novel with its parallel narrative addresses tough situations with care, including parental grief and depression, the threat of eviction, domestic abuse, the emotional and physical abuse of children, the impact of racism, and negotiating problematic friendships.

A compelling work whose intriguing characters readers will miss when they turn the last page. (author's note) (Historical fiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: Aug. 3, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-8234-4604-9

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Holiday House

Review Posted Online: June 1, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2021

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NIGHTBIRD

There’s a monster in Sidwell, Massachusetts, that can only be seen at night or, as Twig reveals, if passersby are near her house.

It’s her older brother, James, born with wings just like every male in the Fowler line for the last 200 years. They were cursed by the Witch of Sidwell, left brokenhearted by their forebear Lowell Fowler. Twig and James are tired of the secret and self-imposed isolation. Lonely Twig narrates, bringing the small town and its characters to life, intertwining events present and past, and describing the effects of the spell on her fractured family’s daily life. Longing for some normalcy and companionship, she befriends new-neighbor Julia while James falls in love with Julia’s sister, Agate—only to learn they are descendants of the Witch. James and Agate seem as star-crossed as their ancestors, especially when the townspeople attribute a spate of petty thefts and graffiti protesting the development of the woods to the monster and launch a hunt. The mix of romance and magic is irresistible and the tension, compelling. With the help of friends and through a series of self-realizations and discoveries, Twig grows more self-assured. She is certain she knows how to change the curse. In so doing, Twig not only changes James’ fate, but her own, for the first time feeling the fullness of family, friends and hope for the future.

Enchanting. (Magical realism. 9-12)

Pub Date: March 10, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-385-38958-7

Page Count: 208

Publisher: Wendy Lamb/Random

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2015

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Telgemeier’s bold colors, superior visual storytelling, and unusual subject matter will keep readers emotionally engaged and...

GHOSTS

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 2, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2016

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