Readers will be hooked—more, please!

WRECK AT ADA'S REEF

From the Swallowtail Legacy series , Vol. 1

Lark travels to Lake Erie’s Swallowtail Island with her younger sister, Pip, and their stepdad and his three sons for a life-changing summer adventure.

They’re going to stay in the house that their mother bequeathed to Lark and Pip. Lark, who narrates with wit and insight, is having a hard time with her mother’s recent death and being part of a blended family. But working as an assistant for Nadine Pritchard, her mom’s childhood friend who is researching a book and trying to solve a land dispute tied to a suspicious death 75 years ago, is the perfect distraction. Twelve-year-old Lark meets 93-year-old Dinah Purdy, the book’s subject and an African American trailblazer whose property lies at the heart of the mystery (the rest of the cast defaults to White). After Lark lashes out violently at soccer camp, Dinah, who is experienced in nonviolent protest, becomes her mentor, helping her resolve her feelings. Lark learns she’s got super skills for tracking down clues, not to mention moxie in the face of intimidating bluster from the main beneficiary of the crime. Reports, letters, and spot art are interspersed. Each character, historic and contemporary, sparks with life. Lark’s process and the reveals are perfectly paced. Descriptions of the island and weather, plus some dramatic moments on rough water, help build atmospheric tension. Most heartwarming, Lark develops feelings of loyalty toward her blended family and uncovers a surprising link to their property.

Readers will be hooked—more, please! (maps) (Mystery. 8-12)

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-64595-048-6

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Pixel+Ink

Review Posted Online: Nov. 30, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2021

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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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Charming, poignant, and thoughtfully woven.

CLUES TO THE UNIVERSE

An aspiring scientist and a budding artist become friends and help each other with dream projects.

Unfolding in mid-1980s Sacramento, California, this story stars 12-year-olds Rosalind and Benjamin as first-person narrators in alternating chapters. Ro’s father, a fellow space buff, was killed by a drunk driver; the rocket they were working on together lies unfinished in her closet. As for Benji, not only has his best friend, Amir, moved away, but the comic book holding the clue for locating his dad is also missing. Along with their profound personal losses, the protagonists share a fixation with the universe’s intriguing potential: Ro decides to complete the rocket and hopes to launch mementos of her father into outer space while Benji’s conviction that aliens and UFOs are real compels his imagination and creativity as an artist. An accident in science class triggers a chain of events forcing Benji and Ro, who is new to the school, to interact and unintentionally learn each other’s secrets. They resolve to find Benji’s dad—a famous comic-book artist—and partner to finish Ro’s rocket for the science fair. Together, they overcome technical, scheduling, and geographical challenges. Readers will be drawn in by amusing and fantastical elements in the comic book theme, high emotional stakes that arouse sympathy, and well-drawn character development as the protagonists navigate life lessons around grief, patience, self-advocacy, and standing up for others. Ro is biracial (Chinese/White); Benji is White.

Charming, poignant, and thoughtfully woven. (Fiction. 9-12)

Pub Date: Jan. 12, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-06-300888-5

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Quill Tree Books/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Oct. 27, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2020

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