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

THE SCHOOL FOR GOOD AND EVIL

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

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. 13, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2013

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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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