GO WITH THE FLOW

Four friends protest period poverty and inequality.

Sophomore Sasha Chen is the new girl at Hazleton High. On her second day, she notices mean-spirited giggles and looks of disgust while at her locker. Established friends Abby, Brit, and Christine swoop in and introduce themselves, whisking her away to the bathroom to calmly inform her that her period has leaked through her white pants. The girls find the period-products vending machine to be empty. When Abby repeatedly asks the administration about reloading the machines or, better yet, making period-care products free (since half the school body bleeds), she is quickly dismissed by the older, White, male principal who calls it “her little problem.” The girls want to demolish the shame around menstruation, but when Abby takes the protest too far, their friendship is tested. With its alluring red-hued duotone art, this graphic novel successfully empowers readers and guides them to speak up and reclaim agency when they feel something is not right with not only their own bodies, but with the world around them. The girls’ group is inclusive, encompassing different heights, skin colors, races, and body types; Brit, who openly discusses her struggles with endometriosis, has brown skin and a full figure, Sasha is Asian and petite, tall and lanky Christine, White, is coming to understand her same-sex attraction, and Abby is White with red hair and a curvy figure.

Just bloody perfect. (author’s note, further resources) (Graphic fiction. 9-14)

Pub Date: Jan. 14, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-250-30572-5

Page Count: 336

Publisher: First Second

Review Posted Online: Oct. 27, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2019

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A well-Crafted, visually rich, truth-telling tale for our troubled times that affirms the eternal importance of friends.

CLASS ACT

Jordan Banks has returned to the elite Riverdale Academy Day School for eighth grade, and although he still doesn’t smell like an eighth grade boy—much to his dismay—his growth spurt comes in other forms.

Unlike New Kid (2019), this sequel offers the perspectives of not just Jordan, but also his best friend, Drew, and his wealthy White friend, Liam. As Jordan navigates what may be his last year at RAD before transferring to art school, he frequently compares his experiences with Drew’s: Both boys are Black, but Drew is taller, more athletic, and has darker skin. Drew also has a new flattop that attracts unwanted touching from non-Black kids. This story focuses on how differently RAD students and teachers treat light-skinned Jordan and dark-skinned Drew and also how middle-class Jordan, working-class Drew, and rich Liam negotiate a friendship of mutual respect and care. RAD administrators and teachers have also realized that they need to work on diversity, equity, and inclusion, but their leadership choice for this initiative results in more microaggressions for the students of color. Jordan’s cartoon “intermissions,” black-and-white pencil sketches, capture his imaginative wit while conveying perceptive observations about race and class that ring true. Each chapter’s title page textually and illustratively echoes popular graphic works for young readers such as Jeff Kinney’s Diary of a Wimpy Kid.

A well-Crafted, visually rich, truth-telling tale for our troubled times that affirms the eternal importance of friends. (author's note) (Graphic fiction. 9-14)

Pub Date: Oct. 6, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-288551-7

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Quill Tree Books/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: July 28, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2020

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

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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

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