A stirring, eye-catching portrayal of growth.

ARTIE AND THE WOLF MOON

A girl discovers she comes from a family of werewolves, starting her on a path to discovering her own abilities and history.

Black eighth grader Artemis “Artie” Irvin doesn’t really fit in with the kids at her mostly White school, where she is mocked and bullied. She devotes her time to developing photos she takes on her deceased father’s old film camera, which helps her feel closer to him. All that changes after she sneaks out for a nighttime photo shoot during a full moon and runs into a wolf. Calling her mom for help, she instead sees her mother transform from wolf to human before her eyes. Soon after, her powers show themselves, and her own wolf training begins. Artie’s mother reaches out to a community of Black werewolves who are old friends for help. As Artie trains with them, she develops ties to those like her—and something more with her friend and crush, Maya. She also learns about the origins and culture of werewolves and the history of her parents’ relationship. But danger lurks nearby, and Artie must stay alert. Stephens’ art leaps off the page, from the beautiful scenery to the celebration of characters’ Black features. Throughout, the panels are expertly used to create tension in dramatic moments and excitement that showcases the joyous ones. Readers looking for a story of discovery and healing wrapped in the paranormal will hit the jackpot.

A stirring, eye-catching portrayal of growth. (Graphic paranormal. 12-16)

Pub Date: Sept. 7, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-5415-4248-8

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Graphic Universe

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2021

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An eerie thriller reminiscent of summer horror movies that will keep readers on edge.

THE LAKE

Two teens with a dark secret return to their old summer camp.

Childhood friends Esme and Kayla can’t wait to return to Camp Pine Lake as counselors-in-training, ready to try everything they couldn’t do when they were younger: find cute boys, stay up late, and sneak out after hours. Even Andy, their straight-laced supervisor, can’t dampen their excitement, especially after they meet the crushworthy Olly and Jake. An intuitive 17-year-old, Esme is ready to jump in and teach her cute little campers. But when a threatening message appears, Esme and Kayla realize the secret they’ve kept hidden for nearly a decade is no longer safe. Paranoia and fear soon cause Esme and Kayla to revisit their ominous secret and realize that nobody in the camp can be trusted. The slow buildup of suspense and the use of classic horror elements contrast with lighthearted camp activities, bonding with new friends, and budding romance. Similarly, Esme’s first-person point of view allows for increased tension and action as well as offering insight into her emotional and mental well-being. Discussions of adulthood, trauma, and recovery are subtle and realistic, but acts of sexism and machismo aren’t fully analyzed. While the strong buildup of action comes late, it leads to a shockingly satisfying finale. Major characters are White.

An eerie thriller reminiscent of summer horror movies that will keep readers on edge. (Thriller. 12-16)

Pub Date: March 2, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-593-12497-0

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: Dec. 10, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2021

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Characters to love, quips to snort at, insights to ponder: typical Spinelli.

DEAD WEDNESDAY

For two teenagers, a small town’s annual cautionary ritual becomes both a life- and a death-changing experience.

On the second Wednesday in June, every eighth grader in Amber Springs, Pennsylvania, gets a black shirt, the name and picture of a teen killed the previous year through reckless behavior—and the silent treatment from everyone in town. Like many of his classmates, shy, self-conscious Robbie “Worm” Tarnauer has been looking forward to Dead Wed as a day for cutting loose rather than sober reflection…until he finds himself talking to a strange girl or, as she would have it, “spectral maiden,” only he can see or touch. Becca Finch is as surprised and confused as Worm, only remembering losing control of her car on an icy slope that past Christmas Eve. But being (or having been, anyway) a more outgoing sort, she sees their encounter as a sign that she’s got a mission. What follows, in a long conversational ramble through town and beyond, is a day at once ordinary yet rich in discovery and self-discovery—not just for Worm, but for Becca too, with a climactic twist that leaves both ready, or readier, for whatever may come next. Spinelli shines at setting a tongue-in-cheek tone for a tale with serious underpinnings, and as in Stargirl (2000), readers will be swept into the relationship that develops between this adolescent odd couple. Characters follow a White default.

Characters to love, quips to snort at, insights to ponder: typical Spinelli. (Fiction. 12-15)

Pub Date: Aug. 3, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-593-30667-3

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: June 1, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2021

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