An easy-to-read sports book that taps into basketball as both a means of connecting characters and a platform for...

NO SLAM DUNK

Can you be a leader and a teammate on the court and off?

Wes Davies should be playing the best basketball of his life; he is a small forward on the elite Annapolis Hawks seventh-grade team, and his former nemesis, flashy point guard Dinero, is now his teammate. But victories on the court can’t make up for troubles at home. Wes’s father, Lt. Michael Davies, has returned from a final Navy SEAL mission in Afghanistan with injuries that are both physical and emotional. No longer his son’s mentor and hero, Lt. Davies has moved out of the family home to combat the elusive enemy that is PTSD, relying on alcohol rather than his wife and son for support. Wes is convinced that if he can be a basketball standout, his father will again be the man he was. Meanwhile, Dinero has issues of his own, with a hypercompetitive father who aggressively stage-manages his son’s career. Short chapters that leave readers intrigued will capture basketball fans who love exciting play-by-play and who appreciate references to the stars of today. Lupica handles complex issues of scarred veterans, fathers and sons, and the difference between competition and battle with ease, making the familiar story of the redemptive power of sports feel new. Wes is white, and Dinero is cued Latinx; naming conventions point to a diverse team overall.

An easy-to-read sports book that taps into basketball as both a means of connecting characters and a platform for problem-solving. (Fiction. 10-14)

Pub Date: Nov. 6, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-525-51485-5

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Philomel

Review Posted Online: July 24, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2018

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A compassionate glimpse of mental illness accessible to a broad audience. (Fiction. 10-14)

THE SCIENCE OF BREAKABLE THINGS

A middle school story in which parental depression manifests itself in absence.

Natalie’s vivacious botanist mother (who’s white) has retreated from life, leaving her therapist husband (who’s biracial) and daughter to fill the gaping hole she has left. With the help of an egg-drop contest and a scientific-method project, Natalie explores breakable things and the nurturing of hope. Narrating in first-person, the mixed-race seventh-grader (1/4 Korean and 3/4 white) is drawn to her mother’s book, titled How to Grow A Miracle. It reminds her of when her mother was excited by science and questions and life. With a STEM-inspired chapter framework and illustrated with Neonakis’ scientific drawings, Keller’s debut novel uses the scientific method to unpack the complex emotions depression can cause. Momentum builds over nine months as Natalie observes, questions, researches, experiments, and analyzes clues to her mother’s state of mind. Providing support and some comic relief are her two sidekicks, Dari (a smart Indian immigrant boy) and Twig (Natalie’s wealthy, white best friend). The diversity of the characters provides identity and interest, not issue or plotline. Tension peaks at the egg-drop contest, as the three friends plan to use the prize winnings to bring Natalie’s mother back to life with a gift of a rare cobalt blue orchid. Paralleling their scientific progress, Natalie reluctantly experiences her first visits to talk therapy, slowly opening like a tight bloom.

A compassionate glimpse of mental illness accessible to a broad audience. (Fiction. 10-14)

Pub Date: March 6, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5247-1566-3

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: Nov. 22, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2017

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Rich and strange (and kitted out with an eye-catching cover), but stronger in the set pieces than the internal logic.

THE SCHOOL FOR GOOD AND EVIL

From the School for Good and Evil series , Vol. 1

Chainani works an elaborate sea change akin to Gregory Maguire’s Wicked (1995), though he leaves the waters muddied.

Every four years, two children, one regarded as particularly nice and the other particularly nasty, are snatched from the village of Gavaldon by the shadowy School Master to attend the divided titular school. Those who survive to graduate become major or minor characters in fairy tales. When it happens to sweet, Disney princess–like Sophie and  her friend Agatha, plain of features, sour of disposition and low of self-esteem, they are both horrified to discover that they’ve been dropped not where they expect but at Evil and at Good respectively. Gradually—too gradually, as the author strings out hundreds of pages of Hogwarts-style pranks, classroom mishaps and competitions both academic and romantic—it becomes clear that the placement wasn’t a mistake at all. Growing into their true natures amid revelations and marked physical changes, the two spark escalating rivalry between the wings of the school. This leads up to a vicious climactic fight that sees Good and Evil repeatedly switching sides. At this point, readers are likely to feel suddenly left behind, as, thanks to summary deus ex machina resolutions, everything turns out swell(ish).

Rich and strange (and kitted out with an eye-catching cover), but stronger in the set pieces than the internal logic. (Fantasy. 11-13)

Pub Date: May 14, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-06-210489-2

Page Count: 496

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Feb. 13, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2013

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