While the story of girls coming together over their love of dance is wonderful on the surface, the failure to acknowledge...

THE AUDITION

From the Maddie Ziegler series , Vol. 1

Ziegler (The Maddie Diaries, 2017), dancer and reality TV star, channels her experience into a new middle-grade novel.

Twelve-year-old Harper McCoy is a young, white girl who loves to dance. Her life’s thrown for a loop when her family picks up stakes and relocates from Connecticut to Florida. Leaving behind the dance studio that has been her home away from home, she is nervous about joining a new team in a new town. Unfortunately, her new team has a well-established clique, the Bunheads, who make Harper’s transition to the new studio that much more difficult. Harper must find it in herself to empathize with her new teammates, to ingratiate herself with them, and come together as a team with them before their first competition. While the themes of loyalty, teamwork, and perspective-taking are all laudable, other more insidious themes are present and fail to be addressed in the text. For instance, Harper regularly struggles with perfectionism, yet this is treated as neutral if not positive rather than a potentially pathological trait that could be harmful to her mental well-being, interpersonal relationships, and even to her dance career. The ubiquity of social media and the behavior of highly competitive stage moms are likewise never addressed.

While the story of girls coming together over their love of dance is wonderful on the surface, the failure to acknowledge many negative features within the story is concerning, particularly as this is likely to appeal to many aspiring young dancers . (Fiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: Oct. 31, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4814-8636-1

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Aladdin

Review Posted Online: Aug. 21, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2017

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A story of fierce friendship, bravery, loyalty, and finding—or making—a place to belong.

THE MIDNIGHT CHILDREN

Ravani Foster and the whole town of Slaughterville are changed by the arrival of seven unusual children.

Skinny, lonely Ravani is the only one who sees the children arrive and move into the house across the street, and he soon finds a comrade in tough, golden-haired Virginia. Despite the local newspaper owner’s assertion that Slaughterville is not the kind of town where exciting things happen, Ravani’s life changes dramatically as Virginia and her chosen family of parentless kids calling themselves the Ragabonds let him in on their secret: They are on the run. When vicious bully Donnie learns that the Ragabonds are being pursued, he blackmails Ravani, who is desperate to protect them and equally desperate for Virginia, his first friend, to stay. She introduces him to the quietly revolutionary idea that things don’t have to be the way they’ve always been. The omniscient narrative voice is a strong presence throughout, drawing readers’ attention to themes including choices that make a difference, connections between people (“Sometimes, when two souls find each other in the darkness, the darkness goes away”), deciding who you want to be and not letting others define you, and the importance of home and family. Brief chapters from the perspective of the man hunting the Ragabonds ratchet up the suspense, culminating in an exciting sequence of events followed by a heartwarming ending. All main characters are coded White.

A story of fierce friendship, bravery, loyalty, and finding—or making—a place to belong. (Fiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: Aug. 30, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-250-19672-9

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: May 10, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 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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