A fun and deeply satisfying read for teens. (Graphic novel. 14-18)

CHECK, PLEASE!

#HOCKEY

From the Check, Please! series , Vol. 1

A pie-baking hockey player from small-town Georgia begins college and settles into jock culture.

Eric “Bitty” Bittle’s dreams are coming true: He is starting college on the hockey team at Samwell University in Massachusetts. Bitty played hockey and figure skated competitively; unfortunately, the coed team back home did not allow “checking,” or physical contact, and Bitty’s fear of being hit becomes a real impediment in college hockey. Bitty’s team captain, Jack Zimmerman, “the hockey prince,” is determined to break Bitty of his fear of being checked. Despite Jack’s mercurial nature, Bitty develops a serious crush on the attractive athlete. As the practices and games develop, Bitty forms bonds with the other players and, after coming out, settles into college life. When sophomore year rolls around, Bitty has to face that two of his closest teammates are seniors and will be leaving soon. Based on a popular webcomic, this is a warm story with an irresistible protagonist, a clever supporting cast, and lively and plentiful game and practice scenes. There are many themes here: acceptance, standing up to fear, and finding your place, to name a few. Despite its episodic style, the humor and heart at the center of the story carry it through. The art relies on expressive facial shots to complement the snappy and sometimes-raunchy dialogue. Bitty is white, and there is some diversity in secondary characters.

A fun and deeply satisfying read for teens. (Graphic novel. 14-18)

Pub Date: Sept. 18, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-250-17796-4

Page Count: 290

Publisher: First Second

Review Posted Online: July 30, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2018

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A fantastic stand-alone mystery companion revisits a much-loved sleuth.

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THE BOX IN THE WOODS

From the Truly Devious series , Vol. 4

Amateur boarding school detective Stevie Bell is back with a new cold case to crack in a companion novel to the Truly Devious trilogy.

After solving one of the greatest murder mysteries of the 20th century, Stevie is at a bit of a loss while back home working at a deli counter during summer break. When the new owner of Camp Wonder Falls—the site of the gruesome (and unsolved) Box in the Woods murders back in the ’70s—invites her over to work on the case for his upcoming documentary and podcast, Stevie immediately says yes. It’s especially appealing since she gets to invite her closest friends, Nate and Janelle, as well as her boyfriend, David, to tag along. When a new murder takes place just as Stevie starts asking questions around town, the gang find themselves in danger once more. Johnson’s hallmark charming humor and lovable characters provide a robust foundation for another cracking mystery, this time ingeniously working with summer-camp and locked-room–mystery tropes. A few snippets relating back to the events in 1978 and Stevie’s empathy for the grieving friends and relatives of the dead, who still yearn for answers, provide a strong emotional grounding for the case. Apart from Janelle, who is Black (and queer), most characters are White. Stevie’s relationship with her lifelong anxiety is particularly well portrayed.

A fantastic stand-alone mystery companion revisits a much-loved sleuth. (author's note) (Mystery. 14-18)

Pub Date: June 15, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-06-303260-6

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Katherine Tegen/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: April 30, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2021

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A thoughtful portrayal of determined multinational teens balancing authenticity with pursuing their dreams.

K-POP CONFIDENTIAL

Who doesn’t want to be a K-pop idol?

Fifteen-year-old Candace Park is just a typical Korean American teen from Fort Lee, New Jersey. She loves hanging out with her friends Imani and Ethan while watching RuPaul’s Drag Race, mukbang shows about eating massive amounts of Korean food, and advice from beauty vloggers. While Candace focuses on doing well in school, her hardworking immigrant Umma and Abba gave up on their own dreams to run a convenience store. Candace loves to sing and is a huge K-pop stan—but secretly, because she fears it’s a bit stereotypical. Everything changes after Candace and her friends see an ad for local auditions to find members of a new K-pop group and Candace decides to try out, an impulse that takes her on the journey of a lifetime to spend a summer in Seoul. Lee’s fun-filled, fast-paced K-pop romp reads like a reality show competition while cleverly touching on issues of racism, feminism, unfair beauty expectations and labor practices, classism and class struggles, and immigration and privilege. While more explanation of why there are such unfair standards in the K-pop industry would have been helpful, Lee invites readers to enjoy this world and question the industry’s actions without condescension or disdain. Imani is Black; Ethan is White and gay.

A thoughtful portrayal of determined multinational teens balancing authenticity with pursuing their dreams. (Fiction. 14-18)

Pub Date: Sept. 15, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-338-63993-3

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Point/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: June 25, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2020

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