Chase’s middle-grade debut dazzles in its exploration of the complicated lives of two very different young black girls in...

SO DONE

Metai Johnson and Jamila Phillips have been inseparable since they were toddlers, but now the pressures of hard secrets and new friends threaten to sever their friendship in the wake of a summer apart.

The chapters alternate between the perspectives of Mila and Tai, allowing each distinctive character an authentic and complex voice as they navigate difficult issues facing many American preteens. Mila (also known as Bean, but she’d just as soon not be) is just returning from a summer at Aunt Jacq’s in The Woods, away from her less-affluent neighborhood, the Cove. Tai can’t wait to see her, especially as she’s grown close with her crush, Roland, and needs her best friend to share the rush. Yet as they reunite, both friends begin to realize that something is tangibly different—and the roots of this difference may be in an uncomfortable incident that took place the previous April at Tai’s. The emerging conflict will surely come to a head as they both prepare for the high-stakes audition for the local talented-and-gifted arts program, where they hope to continue to develop themselves as dancers and to stay away from the dangerous pull of street life. The author weaves in a keen sense of black youth culture, including emoji-filled text messages, fly hairstyles, and beloved nicknames that won’t go away, while powerful, flowing use of African-American Vernacular English gives the novel warmth, spirit, and familiarity.

Chase’s middle-grade debut dazzles in its exploration of the complicated lives of two very different young black girls in language that will meet its primary audience of black girl readers in their hearts. (Fiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: Aug. 14, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-06-269178-1

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Greenwillow Books

Review Posted Online: May 14, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2018

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A sweet adventure and a paean to imagination and childhood innocence.

THE LAND OF ROAR

From the Land of Roar series , Vol. 1

A fantasy world comes to life and lures its young creators back into it in this imaginative middle-grade debut and U.K. import.

Narrator Arthur always loved playing make-believe in Grandad’s attic with his twin sister, Rose. Years ago they dreamed up Roar, a magical land that they entered via an old fold-up cot that acted as a portal. Now that they are 11 and starting school at Langdon Academy, Rose has new friends and wants nothing to do with her brother or their imaginary world. Rose may be done with Roar, but it’s not finished with her. When their grandfather is kidnapped and taken into Roar, Arthur and Rose must team up to mount a rescue mission. McLachlan does an excellent job of establishing the sibling tension before introducing the fantasy elements, and Rose’s desire to grow up and fit in feels as familiar and accessible as Arthur’s yearning to remain a child. While obviously reminiscent of classic fantasy, this narrative’s sheer inventiveness marks it as distinct. The twins’ widowed grandfather, a larger-than-life jokester from Mauritius, is a Peter Pan–like figure whose abduction brings the narrative into Roar, allowing the text and Mantle’s illustrations to go wild with creativity. The use of a wordless double-page spread to depict Arthur’s arrival into the fantasy realm is particularly inventive. Arthur and Rose are depicted as kids of color.

A sweet adventure and a paean to imagination and childhood innocence. (map) (Fantasy. 8-12)

Pub Date: June 30, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-298271-1

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: March 15, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2020

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Telgemeier’s bold colors, superior visual storytelling, and unusual subject matter will keep readers emotionally engaged and...

GHOSTS

Catrina narrates the story of her mixed-race (Latino/white) family’s move from Southern California to Bahía de la Luna on the Northern California coast.

Dad has a new job, but it’s little sister Maya’s lungs that motivate the move: she has had cystic fibrosis since birth—a degenerative breathing condition. Despite her health, Maya loves adventure, even if her lungs suffer for it and even when Cat must follow to keep her safe. When Carlos, a tall, brown, and handsome teen Ghost Tour guide introduces the sisters to the Bahía ghosts—most of whom were Spanish-speaking Mexicans when alive—they fascinate Maya and she them, but the terrified Cat wants only to get herself and Maya back to safety. When the ghost adventure leads to Maya’s hospitalization, Cat blames both herself and Carlos, which makes seeing him at school difficult. As Cat awakens to the meaning of Halloween and Day of the Dead in this strange new home, she comes to understand the importance of the ghosts both to herself and to Maya. Telgemeier neatly balances enough issues that a lesser artist would split them into separate stories and delivers as much delight textually as visually. The backmatter includes snippets from Telgemeier’s sketchbook and a photo of her in Día makeup.

Telgemeier’s bold colors, superior visual storytelling, and unusual subject matter will keep readers emotionally engaged and unable to put down this compelling tale. (Graphic fiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: Sept. 13, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-545-54061-2

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: July 2, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2016

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