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Simply charming.

When a seventh grader’s favorite tree gets toilet-papered, it’s the catalyst for either her worst or best summer ever.

Sammy’s school year was terrible. Not only did her former best friend, Kiera, dump her, but she even became Sammy’s bully. But the last day of school seems to set the tone for a summer that Sammy dreads. The beautiful maple in front of her house that she loves to sit in and read is T.P.’d, upsetting the whole family, especially Imran, her autistic 7-year-old brother. After Sammy mentions prejudice as a possible motive, Imran becomes fixated on the idea that they’ve been targeted because they’re Indian American and Muslim. Making things worse, Sammy’s parents and older sister, Zaara, will be visiting India, while Sammy will stay behind with Imran and Umma, their grandmother. But things start looking up when a new girl moves in nearby. Alice and Sammy become fast friends until Kiera tries to split them apart. What Sammy doesn’t anticipate is how the power of Umma’s quiet strength and compassion will transform not only Sammy herself, but the whole community. Hamza takes readers on a roller coaster of emotions in this authentically written story that addresses important topics, such as bullying, finding a sense of belonging, learning how to self-advocate, building community, and staying true to one’s identity. The characterization is robust: Against the backdrop of her rich cultural heritage, Sammy’s middle school struggles are hugely relatable, and Imran is sensitive, insightful, and funny.

Simply charming. (Fiction. 9-13)

Pub Date: May 14, 2024

ISBN: 9780063024946

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Quill Tree Books/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: March 9, 2024

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2024

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

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

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. 12, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2013

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Glitzy glimpses of life on the make, lightened by a focus on alternatives rather than consequences.

A con man’s son yearns for a different way of life.

Having helped his single dad fleece wealthy marks since kindergarten, Trey is adept at spotting their rich offspring in each new school he attends and cultivating them until the time comes for a quick getaway. Now that he’s 12, though, the urge to make real friends and put down some roots has become insistent—particularly since he’s drawn to Kaylee, a new classmate in his latest middle school. How can he convince his dad, who’s in the midst of luring local investors into a fantastically lucrative scheme involving a fictive electric car, that it’s time to bag the family profession and settle down? Korman goes more for ironic humor than the physical or stand-up sort in this book, as shown by Trey’s enrollment in an ethics class that forces him into some decidedly hypocritical stances. Much like Trey himself, instant new bestie Logan and his parents turn out to be not at all who they seem. And though there are no bullies or real baddies in the cast on the way to the story’s rosy but implausible resolution, Trey’s malign, high-strung, and wildly reckless huckster of a little sister from hell definitely adds both conflict and suspense to this provocative outing. Main characters read white.

Glitzy glimpses of life on the make, lightened by a focus on alternatives rather than consequences. (Fiction. 9-12)

Pub Date: July 2, 2024

ISBN: 9781338826753

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: April 5, 2024

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2024

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