Irresistibly exquisite.

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THE EPIC FAIL OF ARTURO ZAMORA

“When you decide you’re going to tell a girl you like her, you need galactic-level courage.”

Summer’s bringing its share of changes for 13-year-old Arturo Zamora. Hanging out with friends, working part-time at his family’s restaurant, La Cocina de la Isla, and joining in Sunday family dinners guarantees some fun times at the start of the hot season. But when a sleazy land developer named Wilfrido Pipo arrives in town to build an upscale high-rise right where La Cocina stands, derailing the Zamoras’ plans to expand the family business, Arturo sees that his Miami neighborhood’s in trouble. The money-grubbing intruder woos neighbors and old friends with gifts and a flashy festival. Now, Arturo’s family and friends must fight back to stop Pipo, and these friends include Carmen, a spirited visiting Spaniard who stirs confusing, wonderful feelings within Arturo. “Lo mas importante, mi Arturito, es el amor y la fe,” says Abuela. Concerned about his ailing grandmother, Arturo struggles to help save the restaurant she built, finding inspiration in two unlikely sources: a box full of letters from his long-departed grandfather and the revolutionary poetry of José Martí. Will Arturo discover the love and faith resting inside him? In this inspiring middle-grade debut, Cartaya presents a delightful portrayal of boyhood, skillfully navigating Arturo through the awkwardness, funniness, and messiness that often accompany young love. And in the author’s depiction of the Zamoras—a mostly Cuban-American family full of distinct, lovable characters—the book also testifies to the importance of community.

Irresistibly exquisite. (author’s note, recipes) (Fiction. 10-14)

Pub Date: May 16, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-101-99723-9

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: March 6, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2017

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Guaranteed to enchant, enthrall, and enmagick.

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  • New York Times Bestseller

  • Newbery Medal Winner

THE GIRL WHO DRANK THE MOON

An elderly witch, a magical girl, a brave carpenter, a wise monster, a tiny dragon, paper birds, and a madwoman converge to thwart a magician who feeds on sorrow.

Every year Elders of the Protectorate leave a baby in the forest, warning everyone an evil Witch demands this sacrifice. In reality, every year, a kind witch named Xan rescues the babies and find families for them. One year Xan saves a baby girl with a crescent birthmark who accidentally feeds on moonlight and becomes “enmagicked.” Magic babies can be tricky, so Xan adopts little Luna herself and lovingly raises her, with help from an ancient swamp monster and a chatty, wee dragon. Luna’s magical powers emerge as her 13th birthday approaches. Meanwhile, Luna’s deranged real mother enters the forest to find her daughter. Simultaneously, a young carpenter from the Protectorate enters the forest to kill the Witch and end the sacrifices. Xan also enters the forest to rescue the next sacrificed child, and Luna, the monster, and the dragon enter the forest to protect Xan. In the dramatic denouement, a volcano erupts, the real villain attempts to destroy all, and love prevails. Replete with traditional motifs, this nontraditional fairy tale boasts sinister and endearing characters, magical elements, strong storytelling, and unleashed forces. Luna has black eyes, curly, black hair, and “amber” skin.

Guaranteed to enchant, enthrall, and enmagick. (Fantasy. 10-14)

Pub Date: Aug. 9, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-61620-567-6

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Algonquin

Review Posted Online: May 14, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2016

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Poignant, respectful, and historically accurate while pulsating with emotional turmoil, adventure, and suspense.

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  • Kirkus Reviews'
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REFUGEE

In the midst of political turmoil, how do you escape the only country that you’ve ever known and navigate a new life? Parallel stories of three different middle school–aged refugees—Josef from Nazi Germany in 1938, Isabel from 1994 Cuba, and Mahmoud from 2015 Aleppo—eventually intertwine for maximum impact.

Three countries, three time periods, three brave protagonists. Yet these three refugee odysseys have so much in common. Each traverses a landscape ruled by a dictator and must balance freedom, family, and responsibility. Each initially leaves by boat, struggles between visibility and invisibility, copes with repeated obstacles and heart-wrenching loss, and gains resilience in the process. Each third-person narrative offers an accessible look at migration under duress, in which the behavior of familiar adults changes unpredictably, strangers exploit the vulnerabilities of transients, and circumstances seem driven by random luck. Mahmoud eventually concludes that visibility is best: “See us….Hear us. Help us.” With this book, Gratz accomplishes a feat that is nothing short of brilliant, offering a skillfully wrought narrative laced with global and intergenerational reverberations that signal hope for the future. Excellent for older middle grade and above in classrooms, book groups, and/or communities looking to increase empathy for new and existing arrivals from afar.

Poignant, respectful, and historically accurate while pulsating with emotional turmoil, adventure, and suspense. (maps, author’s note) (Historical fiction. 10-14)

Pub Date: July 25, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-545-88083-1

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: May 10, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2017

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