Everyone should read this remarkable, affecting novel.

THE SHIP WE BUILT

A 10-year-old transgender boy sends letters via balloon, hoping someone out there will read them.

It’s 1997, and Rowan is starting fifth grade. He knows he’s a boy, but no one else understands. He called a girl “cute” during truth or dare, and now he’s a social pariah. His dad comes into his room at night, but he’s not ready to talk about that yet. He’s sorry for being weird. Bean vividly and sensitively captures the struggle of being a child who just can’t fit in and doesn’t understand why. It is an authentic portrayal of childhood pain without an ounce of condescension. Over the course of the school year, Rowan, who is presumed to be White, and his new best friend Sofie, who appears to be Black, struggle to make sense of what is right and wrong, good and bad in their working-class Michigan world. While the book tackles big issues, primarily addressing being trans and queer and surviving incest as well as touching on parental incarceration, anyone who has ever been a sad or confused child will be able to see a little bit of themselves in Rowan and Sofie. And if the author leans a bit heavily on the unnecessary crutch of ’90s references, at least it increases the book’s appeal for both young retro-enthusiasts and nostalgic adults—and this is one of those rare middle-grade books with real adult appeal.

Everyone should read this remarkable, affecting novel. (author's note, resources, acknowledgements) (Historical fiction. 10-14, adult)

Pub Date: May 26, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-525-55483-7

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: March 29, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2020

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

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

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

Google Rating

  • google rating
  • google rating
  • google rating
  • google rating
  • google rating
  • Kirkus Reviews'
    Best Books Of 2016

  • New York Times Bestseller

  • National Book Award Finalist

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

Did you like this book?

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

Did you like this book?

more