Painful to read—in a good way.

ALL THE IMPOSSIBLE THINGS

A preteen tries to balance desperately missing her mother and slowly falling in love with her foster family.

Ruby “Red” Byrd, a white girl, isn’t expecting much when her social worker leaves her with Jackson and Celine Groove, an interracial older couple who own a petting zoo. But the Grooves are gentle and kind; they barely flinch whenever Red lashes out or misses her mom, who is in prison after a pill addiction left Red effectively on her own. Red learns to love the animals, and her neighbor and classmate Marvin, who is Hawaiian and knows what it’s like to feel like an outsider, takes it upon himself to become her best friend whether she likes it or not. (And as far as Red is concerned, that’s not.) But whenever Red gets angry or distressed, the wind picks up and wreaks havoc wherever she is, and this magic makes her feel even guiltier than she already does for being what she views as an imposition to her foster parents. With heart-wrenching, distressing flashbacks to life with her mother and grandmother before entering the foster system and heartwarming bittersweet moments with her new extended family (Marvin’s parents are the assigned respite family), Lackey balances Red’s navigation of her new reality. Red’s occasional, interspersed letters to her mother add further poignancy.

Painful to read—in a good way. (Fiction. 8-14)

Pub Date: Sept. 3, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-250-20286-4

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Roaring Brook Press

Review Posted Online: July 14, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2019

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A memorable story of kindness, courage and wonder.

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WONDER

After being home-schooled for years, Auggie Pullman is about to start fifth grade, but he’s worried: How will he fit into middle school life when he looks so different from everyone else?

Auggie has had 27 surgeries to correct facial anomalies he was born with, but he still has a face that has earned him such cruel nicknames as Freak, Freddy Krueger, Gross-out and Lizard face. Though “his features look like they’ve been melted, like the drippings on a candle” and he’s used to people averting their eyes when they see him, he’s an engaging boy who feels pretty ordinary inside. He’s smart, funny, kind and brave, but his father says that having Auggie attend Beecher Prep would be like sending “a lamb to the slaughter.” Palacio divides the novel into eight parts, interspersing Auggie’s first-person narrative with the voices of family members and classmates, wisely expanding the story beyond Auggie’s viewpoint and demonstrating that Auggie’s arrival at school doesn’t test only him, it affects everyone in the community. Auggie may be finding his place in the world, but that world must find a way to make room for him, too.

A memorable story of kindness, courage and wonder. (Fiction. 8-14)

Pub Date: Feb. 14, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-375-86902-0

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: Dec. 3, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2011

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Good Guys and Bad get just deserts in the end, and Stanley gets plenty of opportunities to display pluck and valor in this...

HOLES

Sentenced to a brutal juvenile detention camp for a crime he didn't commit, a wimpy teenager turns four generations of bad family luck around in this sunburnt tale of courage, obsession, and buried treasure from Sachar (Wayside School Gets a Little Stranger, 1995, etc.).

Driven mad by the murder of her black beau, a schoolteacher turns on the once-friendly, verdant town of Green Lake, Texas, becomes feared bandit Kissin' Kate Barlow, and dies, laughing, without revealing where she buried her stash. A century of rainless years later, lake and town are memories—but, with the involuntary help of gangs of juvenile offenders, the last descendant of the last residents is still digging. Enter Stanley Yelnats IV, great-grandson of one of Kissin' Kate's victims and the latest to fall to the family curse of being in the wrong place at the wrong time; under the direction of The Warden, a woman with rattlesnake venom polish on her long nails, Stanley and each of his fellow inmates dig a hole a day in the rock-hard lake bed. Weeks of punishing labor later, Stanley digs up a clue, but is canny enough to conceal the information of which hole it came from. Through flashbacks, Sachar weaves a complex net of hidden relationships and well-timed revelations as he puts his slightly larger-than-life characters under a sun so punishing that readers will be reaching for water bottles.

Good Guys and Bad get just deserts in the end, and Stanley gets plenty of opportunities to display pluck and valor in this rugged, engrossing adventure. (Fiction. 9-13)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1998

ISBN: 978-0-374-33265-5

Page Count: 233

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2000

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