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An important and relevant story that will make kids stop and take a look at the world around them.

It is spring 1970 in Alabama, and in spite of the racial tensions that come along with integration and the upcoming race for governor, sixth-grader Lu Olivera can’t stop thinking about running—or more importantly, the discovery that she can run.

It’s hotter than Hades the day Lu first runs in preparation for Field Day. She flies “like the blue blazes” and barely squeaks past classmate Belinda at the finish line for the win. As they mill about catching their breath and each other’s eyes, Belinda gives a nod of respect. Lu nods back, but not without a bit of trepidation upon reminding herself that “around here, black and white kids don’t mix. No siree bob.” You see, being from Argentina, Lu is one of the “middle” kids in the class. White kids sit on one side of the room, black kids, including Belinda, on the other, and those that are left occupy no man’s land. Readers will follow Lu through the spring of her sixth-grade year as she discovers not just the extent of her running ability, but how much gumption one tiny immigrant girl can have. It’s not always easy standing up for what is right, but sometimes, you just can’t stay in the middle. While Red Grove, Alabama, is a fictional town, the story is inspired by the author’s very real experiences growing up in Alabama. Young readers will relate to Lu as she navigates friendships, first love, and politics, cheering her on to the finish line.

An important and relevant story that will make kids stop and take a look at the world around them. (Historical fiction. 9-13)

Pub Date: July 10, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-7636-9231-5

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: May 13, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2018

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An emotional, much-needed historical graphic novel.

Sandy and his family, Japanese Canadians, experience hatred and incarceration during World War II.

Sandy Saito loves baseball, and the Vancouver Asahi ballplayers are his heroes. But when they lose in the 1941 semifinals, Sandy’s dad calls it a bad omen. Sure enough, in December 1941, Japan bombs Pearl Harbor in the U.S. The Canadian government begins to ban Japanese people from certain areas, moving them to “dormitories” and setting a curfew. Sandy wants to spend time with his father, but as a doctor, his dad is busy, often sneaking out past curfew to work. One night Papa is taken to “where he [is] needed most,” and the family is forced into an internment camp. Life at the camp isn’t easy, and even with some of the Asahi players playing ball there, it just isn’t the same. Trying to understand and find joy again, Sandy struggles with his new reality and relationship with his father. Based on the true experiences of Japanese Canadians and the Vancouver Asahi team, this graphic novel is a glimpse of how their lives were affected by WWII. The end is a bit abrupt, but it’s still an inspiring and sweet look at how baseball helped them through hardship. The illustrations are all in a sepia tone, giving it an antique look and conveying the emotions and struggles. None of the illustrations of their experiences are overly graphic, making it a good introduction to this upsetting topic for middle-grade readers.

An emotional, much-needed historical graphic novel. (afterword, further resources) (Graphic historical fiction. 9-12)

Pub Date: Oct. 5, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-5253-0334-0

Page Count: 112

Publisher: Kids Can

Review Posted Online: June 28, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2021

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A sly, side-splitting hoot from start to finish.

The dreary prospect of spending a lifetime making caskets instead of wonderful inventions prompts a young orphan to snatch up his little sister and flee. Where? To the circus, of course.

Fortunately or otherwise, John and 6-year-old Page join up with Boz—sometime human cannonball for the seedy Wandering Wayfarers and a “vertically challenged” trickster with a fantastic gift for sowing chaos. Alas, the budding engineer barely has time to settle in to begin work on an experimental circus wagon powered by chicken poop and dubbed (with questionable forethought) the Autopsy. The hot pursuit of malign and indomitable Great-Aunt Beauregard, the Coggins’ only living relative, forces all three to leave the troupe for further flights and misadventures. Teele spins her adventure around a sturdy protagonist whose love for his little sister is matched only by his fierce desire for something better in life for them both and tucks in an outstanding supporting cast featuring several notably strong-minded, independent women (Page, whose glare “would kill spiders dead,” not least among them). Better yet, in Boz she has created a scene-stealing force of nature, a free spirit who’s never happier than when he’s stirring up mischief. A climactic clutch culminating in a magnificently destructive display of fireworks leaves the Coggin sibs well-positioned for bright futures. (Illustrations not seen.)

A sly, side-splitting hoot from start to finish. (Adventure. 11-13)

Pub Date: April 12, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-06-234510-3

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Walden Pond Press/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Dec. 21, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2016

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