Will hit all the high notes for theater and mystery fans alike.

FEARLESS

Following a Broadway dream takes a budding actress on an unforgettable adventure.

Middle school student Monica Garcia is thrilled to learn that she’s been cast as an understudy in a real Broadway musical. She travels from California to New York City with her abuelita to begin rehearsals for a new show at the legendary but financially failing Ethel Merman Theater. Monica learns to her surprise that due to unfortunate events she will be stepping into the lead role. As practice gets underway, Monica is unsure what to think of the rumblings from the cast and crew about a curse and possible haunting of the theater. When strange and unexplainable occurrences pull Monica and the other young actors, now dear friends, deeper into the mystery of the cursed theater, Monica finds that a tale from her family history might help point the way to turning things around. Though the storyline follows a familiar Scooby-Doo–type arc, the quirky theater setting and likable characters make for an engaging read. Penned by someone who is herself a Broadway star of such mega-hits as Wicked and Hamilton, the story is peppered with authentic theater lingo and interesting backstage tidbits. Monica and her family have Mexican ancestry.

Will hit all the high notes for theater and mystery fans alike. (Mystery. 8-12)

Pub Date: April 6, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-5344-6895-5

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Aladdin

Review Posted Online: Jan. 12, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2021

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An extraordinary, timely, must-read debut about love, family, friendship, and justice.

FROM THE DESK OF ZOE WASHINGTON

After receiving a letter from her incarcerated father, whom she’s never met, 12-year-old Zoe sets out to prove his innocence.

It’s the summer before seventh grade, and aspiring pastry chef Zoe sets her sights on perfecting her baking skills to audition as a contestant on Food Network’s Kids Bake Challenge. One day, she receives a letter from her father, Marcus, who was sent to prison for murder right before Zoe was born. She’s never met Marcus, and her mother wants her to have nothing to do with him. So Zoe keeps the letter a secret and begins corresponding with Marcus on a regular basis. He shares his favorite songs and encourages Zoe’s baking-competition dreams. When Marcus proclaims his innocence, Zoe is shocked: How could someone innocent end up in prison? With the help of her grandmother and her friend Trevor, Zoe begins to learn about systemic racism and how Black people like her and Marcus are more likely to be wrongfully convicted of murder than White people. Zoe’s relationship with Marcus is at the center of the novel, but her relationships with her mother, stepfather, grandmother, and Trevor are also richly conveyed. This powerful debut packs both depth and sweetness, tackling a tough topic in a sensitive, compelling way.

An extraordinary, timely, must-read debut about love, family, friendship, and justice. (Fiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: Jan. 14, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-287585-3

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Katherine Tegen/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Sept. 15, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2019

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An eminently satisfying story of family, recovery, and growing into manhood.

REBOUND

In this prequel to Newbery Award–winning The Crossover (2014), Alexander revisits previous themes and formats while exploring new ones.

For Charlie Bell, the future father of The Crossover’s Jordan and Josh, his father’s death alters his relationship with his mother and causes him to avoid what reminds him of his dad. At first, he’s just withdrawn, but after he steals from a neighbor, his mother packs a reluctant Charlie off to his grandparents near Washington, D.C., for the summer. His grandfather works part-time at a Boys and Girls Club where his cousin Roxie is a star basketball player. Despite his protests, she draws him into the game. His time with his grandparents deepens Charlie’s understanding of his father, and he begins to heal. “I feel / a little more normal, / like maybe he’s still here, / … in a / as long as I remember him / he’s still right here / in my heart / kind of way.” Once again, Alexander has given readers an African-American protagonist to cheer. He is surrounded by a strong supporting cast, especially two brilliant female characters, his friend CJ and his cousin Roxie, as well as his feisty and wise granddaddy. Music and cultural references from the late 1980s add authenticity. The novel in verse is enhanced by Anyabwile’s art, which reinforces Charlie’s love for comics.

An eminently satisfying story of family, recovery, and growing into manhood. (Historical verse fiction. 10-12)

Pub Date: April 2, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-544-86813-7

Page Count: 416

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: March 4, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2018

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