Will tug at readers’ heartstrings.

A COMB OF WISHES

A young girl discovers a mermaid’s comb and is granted the chance of a lifetime.

Kela Boxhill is a 12-year-old Black girl from the fictional Caribbean island of St. Rita who enjoys collecting sea glass that she turns into jewelry, something her mother taught her how to do. It’s the only activity she has found any pleasure in since her mother’s passing left her devastated and adrift. One day, while walking the beach, Kela feels called to explore a cave in a protected and off-limits area of the shore. She discovers an ancient-looking box and takes it home with her. She finds a decorated comb inside and, remembering the many stories her mother shared with her, suspects it contains magic. Unbeknown to Kela, it is the property of a mermaid named Ophidia, who is none too pleased to have had her precious property taken. According to the rules, the only way that Ophidia can get her comb back is to grant Kela a wish. Will Kela ask for what she most desires—to have her mother come back to life—despite Ophidia’s warning of the risk this entails? Stringfellow weaves an enchanting tale of loss, longing, and discovery infused with Caribbean folklore. Readers will be captivated by Kela’s story and become invested in her journey as she tries to deal with the grief of losing her mother as well as regret for her past actions.

Will tug at readers’ heartstrings. (author's note) (Fiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: Feb. 8, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-06-304343-5

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Quill Tree Books/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Nov. 30, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2021

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Heartening and hopeful, a love letter to black male youth grasping the desires within them, absorbing the worlds around...

THE SEASON OF STYX MALONE

Cooler-than-cool newcomer Styx Malone takes the more-sheltered brothers Caleb and Bobby Gene on a mischievous, path-altering, summer adventure of a lifetime as they embrace the extraordinary possibilities beyond the everyday in rural Indiana.

Readers may think an adventure such as they’ll find here wouldn’t be possible in the present day; this story takes place outside, where nature, know-how, creativity, and curiosity rule. Creeks, dirt roads, buried treasures, and more make up the landscape in Sutton, Indiana. Younger brother Caleb narrates, letting readers know from the outset that he’s tired of his dad’s racially tinged determination that they be safely ordinary: “I don’t want to be ordinary. I want to be…the other thing.” With Styx Malone around, Caleb and Bobby Gene will sure figure out what that “other thing” can become. The three black adolescents are enchanted with the miracle of the Great Escalator Trade, the mythic one-thing-leads-to-another bartering scheme that just might get them farther from Sutton than they’ve ever dreamed. As they get deeper and deeper into cahoots with Styx, they begin to notice that Styx harbors some secret ambitions of his own, further twisting this grand summer journey. “How do you move through the world knowing that you’re special, when no one else can see it?” begs the soul of this novel.

Heartening and hopeful, a love letter to black male youth grasping the desires within them, absorbing the worlds around them, striving to be more otherwise than ordinary. Please share. (Fiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: Oct. 16, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5247-1595-3

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Wendy Lamb/Random

Review Posted Online: July 16, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2018

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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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