A sharp, sympathetic insight into poverty, family, friendship, and forgiveness.

ON THIN ICE

A boy with a rare spinal deformity makes a desperate bet to keep his home.

“[E]verything you subtract adds up,” 12-year-old Ked Eakins—aka “Freakins”—remarks, summarizing his life till seventh grade. After Ked was diagnosed with kyphosis, his mother left—taking her good job and health insurance with her—and his friendships dwindled like “a game of musical chairs.” Now, Ked lives on “the edge of the edge” of “failing mill town” Norton, Maine, with his dad, who’s had his factory shifts cut in half—and gambled two months’ rent away. Frantic, Ked himself gambles on restoring and selling a minibike in time to avoid eviction, but roadblocks abound. Northrop depicts the everyday realities of poverty in unvarnished detail: Ked digs through trash cans for redeemable bottles, maximizes half-hour public-library computer sessions, and buys his “good” clothes on sale at the outlet stores. But Ked’s pragmatism and determination keep bleakness at bay, and kindness comes from unexpected people. Like Ked's run-down hometown, his frank, introspective narration offers some beautiful moments; a carburetor, for instance, is “small and self-contained, like a heart.” The author’s portrayal of Ked’s dad’s gambling addiction and its toll on Ked is unflinching but not without hope. The ending is realistically satisfying, and readers will appreciate Ked’s realization that his back is “what [he looks] like,” but “[he’s] what [he does.]” Most characters appear white; Ked’s friend Nephi is a Somali immigrant.

A sharp, sympathetic insight into poverty, family, friendship, and forgiveness. (Fiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: July 30, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-545-49590-5

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: May 8, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2019

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

With Ivan’s movie out this year from Disney, expect great interest—it will be richly rewarded.

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • New York Times Bestseller

  • IndieBound Bestseller

THE ONE AND ONLY BOB

Tiny, sassy Bob the dog, friend of The One and Only Ivan (2012), returns to tell his tale.

Wisecracking Bob, who is a little bit Chihuahua among other things, now lives with his girl, Julia, and her parents. Happily, her father works at Wildworld Zoological Park and Sanctuary, the zoo where Bob’s two best friends, Ivan the gorilla and Ruby the elephant, live, so Bob gets to visit and catch up with them regularly. Due to an early betrayal, Bob doesn’t trust humans (most humans are good only for their thumbs); he fears he’s going soft living with Julia, and he’s certain he is a Bad Dog—as in “not a good representative of my species.” On a visit to the zoo with a storm threatening, Bob accidentally falls into the gorilla enclosure just as a tornado strikes. So that’s what it’s like to fly. In the storm’s aftermath, Bob proves to everyone (and finally himself) that there is a big heart in that tiny chest…and a brave one too. With this companion, Applegate picks up where her Newbery Medal winner left off, and fans will be overjoyed to ride along in the head of lovable, self-deprecating Bob on his storm-tossed adventure. His wry doggy observations and attitude are pitch perfect (augmented by the canine glossary and Castelao’s picture dictionary of dog postures found in the frontmatter). Gorilla Ivan described Julia as having straight, black hair in the previous title, and Castelao's illustrations in that volume showed her as pale-skinned. (Finished art not available for review.)

With Ivan’s movie out this year from Disney, expect great interest—it will be richly rewarded. (afterword) (Fiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: May 5, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-299131-7

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: March 25, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2020

Did you like this book?

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

Did you like this book?

more