An accessible look at grief, spirituality, and growth.

REPAIRING THE WORLD

Ask anyone in Roosevelt Cove, New York: Daisy Rubens and Ruby Affini come as a pair.

Daisy—Jewish, curly-haired, and freckled—approaches the world with caution and an analytical mind. Meanwhile Ruby—Catholic, with olive-toned skin and straight, dark hair—sees magic everywhere and isn’t afraid of anything. When Ruby dies in an accident the summer before sixth grade, Daisy finds herself bereft of wonder. With the patience and compassion of her loving parents, her whimsical Aunt Toby, and some unfamiliar faces at school and synagogue, she slowly discovers new joy in life. Each character is richly imagined, their idiosyncrasies pondered and celebrated as Daisy parses her way through a world of connections without her best friend by her side. The novel finds its title in the Jewish idea of tikkun olam, and Daisy’s journey is one of repairing herself. Depictions of Jewish life and belief—in all its contemporary formulations—ring true, but where the novel really shines is through its use of sensory and emotional details. With incredible specificity and heart, Epstein carries Daisy through her grief, demystifying the experience of tragedy for her middle-grade audience. The book reads like a field guide for surviving the unimaginable: the prose simple but clearsighted, the plot an unassuming canvas against which characters and emotions bloom.

An accessible look at grief, spirituality, and growth. (Fiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: July 5, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-5344-9855-6

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Aladdin

Review Posted Online: April 13, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2022

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Rich, naturalistic details will delight lovers of marine life.

ODDER

A Monterey Bay sea otter comes of age.

Odder’s mom told her to stay away from sharks, humans, and anything else she didn’t understand, but after saving her friend Kairi from a shark attack, she encounters all three. Injured herself during the rescue, Odder ends up recuperating at the Monterey Bay Aquarium, or Highwater as the otters call it, where she once lived as a young orphaned pup. Last time, the humans helped her reintegrate into the wild, but because of her injuries this time the outcome might be different. Soon Kairi is there too, stricken with “the shaking sickness” and having lost her newborn pup. Now Kairi is fostering a new pup, and soon one is introduced to an initially reluctant Odder in hopes that she will help raise it so it can return to the wild. The free verse effortlessly weaves in scientific information, giving Odder a voice without overly anthropomorphizing any of the animals. The natural appeal of sea otters will draw readers in, but the book doesn’t shy away from real-world threats such as predators, disease, and pollution. Loosely based on the stories of real sea otters rehabilitated at the Monterey Bay Aquarium, this novel will give readers lots to talk about, but uneven pacing and a rushed ending may leave some unsatisfied. Charming black-and-white spot art captures the world and life of the sea.

Rich, naturalistic details will delight lovers of marine life. (glossary, author’s note, bibliography, resources) (Verse novel. 8-12)

Pub Date: Sept. 20, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-250-14742-4

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Feiwel & Friends

Review Posted Online: Aug. 31, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2022

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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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