An amusing international adventure with some dicey internet practices.

THE MYSTERY OF THE MASKED MEDALIST

From the Kudo Kids series , Vol. 1

Siblings race to solve a series of puzzles only to get more than what they bargained for.

Japanese American siblings Andy and Mika Kudo are ecstatic. Since their mother is the editor-in-chief of Compete, a popular sports website, the family will experience their first visit to Japan during the upcoming Summer Olympics. The siblings will also be able to play Olypifan, a popular augmented-reality game app, right there on the ground in Tokyo. The two already have plans to find more clues and virtual medals, all in hopes of correctly guessing the identity of the Masked Medalist. Their excitement soars when they learn that the creator of the game—an actual Olympic athlete—will have the winners be the beta testers for their upcoming game. Things get even more interesting when rumors begin to spread: of teams cheating, mysterious notes, and possible hacks. Mika has her own secret—breaking a family rule with an Instagram account to enter the Olympic photography contest. Chat transcripts, online postings, and lively illustrations are interspersed throughout the text, with most of the intrigue and puzzle-solving occurring toward the end. There is little reflection on Mika’s unsanctioned social media account, even after she receives personal messages from a possible stalker. Disappointingly, there is no note or other reinforcement about online safety.

An amusing international adventure with some dicey internet practices. (Mystery. 8-11)

Pub Date: Sept. 8, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-5931-1373-8

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Razorbill/Penguin

Review Posted Online: Feb. 26, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2020

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The second installment in this spirited series is a hit.

WAYS TO GROW LOVE

From the Ryan Hart series , Vol. 2

A new baby coming means Ryan has lots of opportunities to grow love.

Ryan has so much to look forward to this summer—she is going to be a big sister, and she finally gets to go to church camp! But new adventures bring challenges, too. Ryan feels like the baby is taking forever to arrive, and with Mom on bed rest, she isn’t able to participate in the family’s typical summer activities. Ryan’s Dad is still working the late shift, which means he gets home and goes to bed when she and her older brother, Ray, are waking up, so their quality daddy-daughter time is limited to one day a week. When the time for camp finally arrives, Ryan is so worried about bugs, ghosts, and sharing a cabin that she wonders if she should go at all. Watson’s heroine is smart and courageous, bringing her optimistic attitude to any challenge she faces. Hard topics like family finances and complex relationships with friends are discussed in an age-appropriate way. Watson continues to excel at crafting a sense of place; she transports readers to Portland, Oregon, with an attention to detail that can only come from someone who has loved that city. Ryan, her family, and friends are Black, and occasional illustrations by Mata spotlight their joy and make this book shine.

The second installment in this spirited series is a hit. (Fiction. 8-10)

Pub Date: April 27, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-5476-0058-8

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Review Posted Online: March 17, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2021

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A moving exploration of the places we come from and the people who shape us—not to be missed.

SOME PLACES MORE THAN OTHERS

On a birthday trip to New York City, a girl learns about her roots, Harlem, and how to stay true to herself.

Eleven-year-old sneakerhead Amara is struggling to feel seen and heard. A new baby sister is on the way, her mom still wants to put her in dresses, and that birthday trip from the Portland, Oregon, suburbs to New York City that she so desperately wants feels out of reach. When Amara gets a family-history assignment, she is finally able to convince her mom to say yes to the trip, since it will allow Amara to meet her dad’s side of the family in person. In addition to the school project, her mom gives Amara a secret mission: get her dad and grandpa to spend time alone together to repair old wounds. Harlem proves unlike any place Amara has ever been, and as she explores where her father grew up she experiences black history on every street. Watson is a master at character development, with New York City and especially Harlem playing central roles. Through her all-black cast she seamlessly explores issues of identity, self, and family acceptance. Although the ending feels rushed, with no resolution between Amara and her mom, Amara’s concluding poem is powerful.

A moving exploration of the places we come from and the people who shape us—not to be missed. (Fiction. 9-11)

Pub Date: Sept. 3, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-68119-108-9

Page Count: 208

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Review Posted Online: May 8, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2019

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