A moving, mesmerizing story of wishing, listening and hope for discerning readers.

WISH GIRL

A sensitive boy with a troubled past and an artistic girl whose cache of wishes has almost expired find solace and friendship in a magical valley.

Twelve-year-old Peter and his family have recently moved to rural Texas Hill Country to escape his issues with bullies in San Antonio. Peter’s unemployed father urges him to “toughen up,” while his resentful, overworked mother can’t understand her withdrawn son. An outsider in a loud family that considers him a weirdo, Peter retreats to an isolated valley for solitude. Here he finds Annie, also 12, who’s staying at a nearby camp. “[W]eird and bossy,” Annie’s passionate about art, and she and Peter bond in the valley’s protective atmosphere. Annie calls herself a “wish girl,” but Peter eventually realizes she’s a Make-a-Wish kid whose leukemia has returned. When local bullies terrorize Peter, he opts to run away with Annie, who’s avoiding more cancer treatment, but their escape’s thwarted, and Peter’s forced to speak out. As in Loftin’s Nightingale’s Nest (2014), the first-person narration in lyrical prose adds immediacy to Peter’s and Annie’s life-challenging situations as their transforming friendship plays out in a setting suffused with magical realism.

A moving, mesmerizing story of wishing, listening and hope for discerning readers. (Fiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: Feb. 24, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-59514-686-1

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Razorbill/Penguin

Review Posted Online: Oct. 22, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2014

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A road trip to remember.

CLEAN GETAWAY

Using the Negro Travelers’ Green Book and her hidden past as a road map, a grandma takes her grandson on a cross country journey.

When G’ma pulls up to William “Scoob” Lamar’s house in a brand-new Winnebago and invites him on an adventure, Scoob leaves a note for his dad and jumps in. Despite not knowing where they are going, or why G’ma has traded in her Mini Cooper and house for the RV, Scoob is a willing wingman because he wants to save spring break and escape his strict single dad for a few days. Readers will appreciate the bond between Scoob and G’ma; Stone balances fun with emotion for a compelling read. After they cross from Georgia to Alabama and G’ma keeps avoiding Dad’s calls, Scoob begins to get suspicious. When G’ma lets him see the contents of her once off-limits treasure box, which includes a 1963 edition of the Travelers’ Green Book, Scoob understands this trip means much more than even he imagined. The complex role race plays in their family and on this trip—Scoob is mixed-race and presents black, and G’ma is white—is explored in a meaningful way that provides details about a period in time as well as present-day realities. Rich in history, Stone’s middle-grade debut entertains and informs young readers. The subdued ending may frustrate, but the journey, punctuated by Anyabwile’s grayscale cartoons, is well worth it.

A road trip to remember. (Fiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: Jan. 7, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-9297-3

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: Sept. 15, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2019

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Japanese-American Aki and her family operate an asparagus farm in Westminster, Calif., until they are summarily uprooted and...

SYLVIA & AKI

Two third-grade girls in California suffer the dehumanizing effects of racial segregation after the Japanese attack Pearl Harbor in 1942 in this moving story based on true events in the lives of Sylvia Mendez and Aki Munemitsu.

Japanese-American Aki and her family operate an asparagus farm in Westminster, Calif., until they are summarily uprooted and dispatched to an internment camp in Poston, Ariz., for the duration of World War II. As Aki endures the humiliation and deprivation of the hot, cramped barracks, she wonders if there’s “something wrong with being Japanese.” Sylvia’s Mexican-American family leases the Munemitsu farm. She expects to attend the local school but faces disappointment when authorities assign her to a separate, second-rate school for Mexican kids. In response, Sylvia’s father brings a legal action against the school district arguing against segregation in what eventually becomes a successful landmark case. Their lives intersect after Sylvia finds Aki’s doll, meets her in Poston and sends her letters. Working with material from interviews, Conkling alternates between Aki and Sylvia’s stories, telling them in the third person from the war’s start in 1942 through its end in 1945, with an epilogue updating Sylvia’s story to 1955.

Pub Date: July 12, 2011

ISBN: 978-1-58246-337-7

Page Count: 160

Publisher: Tricycle

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2011

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