Fresh and exhilarating, a welcome addition to the growing middle-grade genre of girls who like girls.

DRUM ROLL, PLEASE

A shy, quiet drummer looks for her inner Rebel Girl at rock camp.

The day before 13-year-old Melissa “Melly” Goodwin departs for Camp Rockaway, her parents make a heartbreaking announcement: They’re splitting up. At least Melly doesn’t have to deal alone; her best friend, Olivia Mendoza, a bassist, will be with her. But when Olivia deserts Melly for her crush (a boy named Noel), Melly has to go it alone. She finds herself confiding in someone who isn’t her best friend. Could carefree guitarist Adeline become more than just a new pal? She certainly makes Melly feel like her heart is full of buzzing bees. When Noel dumps Olivia, she turns back to Melly, but jealousy drives a wedge between the besties. Can Melly make room for both her best friend and a potential girlfriend? Can she step out from behind her drum kit and find the strength she needs to face the music at home? Narrator Melly is a complex blend of anger, curiosity, and creativity, appealingly laying her emotions bare for readers. Puns such as “Joan Jetty” (the boathouse) and “B-flat” (the afternoon rest period) bring character to the camp setting, which is also naturally diverse; Melly is white, Olivia is implied Latina, and Adeline is not the only brown-skinned camper.

Fresh and exhilarating, a welcome addition to the growing middle-grade genre of girls who like girls. (Fiction. 8-14)

Pub Date: June 26, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-06-279114-6

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: March 27, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2018

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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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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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