A solid story of summer growth and exploration.

KEEPING IT REAL

The fish-out-of-water class divide tale in reverse.

Having enrolled in their fancy private school a few years before him, Marigold has always been her best friend Justice’s social interpreter. She might be the only Black girl in their grade, but Mari fits in with the moneyed students, and Justice is a scholarship kid. But this summer, things are going to flip: He’s just been accepted into Style High, a summer program designed to boost Black kids who are interested in careers in fashion design and styling. It’s hosted by preeminent hip-hop media company Flexx Unlimited—which is owned by Mari’s parents. Justice wanted to get in on his own merit and not ask for special treatment, but then Mari does exactly that—she asks her parents to let her take part. She’s genuinely interested in fashion, but even she knows her spot was not earned the same way it was by others. And they know it too. Mari’s in for an awakening ruder than she expected, one that will make her question what she knows about her family and background. The socio-economic and racial dynamics of this story add a compelling dimension to a story that fits squarely into the lifestyles-of-the-rich-and-famous genre of realistic fiction that is just a touch fantastic with all its glitz and glamour. Text messages can be hard to follow, but the prose has a strong teen voice.

A solid story of summer growth and exploration. (Fiction. 10-14)

Pub Date: Oct. 19, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-06-296569-1

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Greenwillow Books

Review Posted Online: July 27, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2021

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An endearing protagonist runs the first, fast leg of Reynolds' promising relay.

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GHOST

From the Track series , Vol. 1

Castle “Ghost” Cranshaw feels like he’s been running ever since his dad pulled that gun on him and his mom—and used it.

His dad’s been in jail three years now, but Ghost still feels the trauma, which is probably at the root of the many “altercations” he gets into at middle school. When he inserts himself into a practice for a local elite track team, the Defenders, he’s fast enough that the hard-as-nails coach decides to put him on the team. Ghost is surprised to find himself caring enough about being on the team that he curbs his behavior to avoid “altercations.” But Ma doesn’t have money to spare on things like fancy running shoes, so Ghost shoplifts a pair that make his feet feel impossibly light—and his conscience correspondingly heavy. Ghost’s narration is candid and colloquial, reminiscent of such original voices as Bud Caldwell and Joey Pigza; his level of self-understanding is both believably childlike and disarming in its perception. He is self-focused enough that secondary characters initially feel one-dimensional, Coach in particular, but as he gets to know them better, so do readers, in a way that unfolds naturally and pleasingly. His three fellow “newbies” on the Defenders await their turns to star in subsequent series outings. Characters are black by default; those few white people in Ghost’s world are described as such.

An endearing protagonist runs the first, fast leg of Reynolds' promising relay. (Fiction. 10-14)

Pub Date: Aug. 30, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-4814-5015-7

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Caitlyn Dlouhy/Atheneum

Review Posted Online: July 20, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2016

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DRAMA

From award winner Telgemeier (Smile, 2010), a pitch-perfect graphic novel portrayal of a middle school musical, adroitly capturing the drama both on and offstage.

Seventh-grader Callie Marin is over-the-moon to be on stage crew again this year for Eucalyptus Middle School’s production of Moon over Mississippi. Callie's just getting over popular baseball jock and eighth-grader Greg, who crushed her when he left Callie to return to his girlfriend, Bonnie, the stuck-up star of the play. Callie's healing heart is quickly captured by Justin and Jesse Mendocino, the two very cute twins who are working on the play with her. Equally determined to make the best sets possible with a shoestring budget and to get one of the Mendocino boys to notice her, the immensely likable Callie will find this to be an extremely drama-filled experience indeed. The palpably engaging and whip-smart characterization ensures that the charisma and camaraderie run high among those working on the production. When Greg snubs Callie in the halls and misses her reference to Guys and Dolls, one of her friends assuredly tells her, "Don't worry, Cal. We’re the cool kids….He's the dork." With the clear, stylish art, the strongly appealing characters and just the right pinch of drama, this book will undoubtedly make readers stand up and cheer.

Brava!  (Graphic fiction. 10-14)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-545-32698-8

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Graphix/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: July 22, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2012

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