BAYLOR'S GUIDE TO DREADFUL DREAMS

From the Beyond Baylor series , Vol. 2

Middle school medium Baylor develops dreamwalking abilities—but not without complications.

An unfavorable online article about the white 13-year-old humorously recaps highlights of Baylor’s Guide to the Other Side (2016) in the voice of a fake-news–y type with a grudge. Baylor’s dead twin sister, Kristina, and the British ghost Col. Fleetwood decide Baylor needs a protective amulet; they use the already-powerful talisman stone from the first book. Wearing it, Baylor has strange, lucid dreams that aren’t actually his; he’s entering his loved ones’ dreams. But he also is reaching some strangers, which shouldn’t be possible: an olive-skinned Greek girl and a dark-skinned Haitian boy, lost together at sea and running out of time. By night Baylor works on how to locate these missing teens, and during the day he deals with other subplots. These include his younger brother’s isolation (the other second-graders are afraid of Baylor), his best friend’s insecurity (discovered in a dream Baylor really shouldn’t have peeked in at; his friend uses a dreamcatcher to prevent further snooping), the spiteful journalist, and even family drama just in time for Thanksgiving dinner. The emotional stakes of the plots closer to home pair well with the very real physical dangers faced by the shipwrecked teens and the race against the clock to save them. Further changes in Baylor’s powers indicate things are happening in the Beyond for another book.

A ghostly good time. (Paranormal adventure. 10-15)

Pub Date: Oct. 31, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4814-6639-4

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Aladdin

Review Posted Online: Aug. 21, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2017

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A compassionate glimpse of mental illness accessible to a broad audience. (Fiction. 10-14)

THE SCIENCE OF BREAKABLE THINGS

A middle school story in which parental depression manifests itself in absence.

Natalie’s vivacious botanist mother (who’s white) has retreated from life, leaving her therapist husband (who’s biracial) and daughter to fill the gaping hole she has left. With the help of an egg-drop contest and a scientific-method project, Natalie explores breakable things and the nurturing of hope. Narrating in first-person, the mixed-race seventh-grader (1/4 Korean and 3/4 white) is drawn to her mother’s book, titled How to Grow A Miracle. It reminds her of when her mother was excited by science and questions and life. With a STEM-inspired chapter framework and illustrated with Neonakis’ scientific drawings, Keller’s debut novel uses the scientific method to unpack the complex emotions depression can cause. Momentum builds over nine months as Natalie observes, questions, researches, experiments, and analyzes clues to her mother’s state of mind. Providing support and some comic relief are her two sidekicks, Dari (a smart Indian immigrant boy) and Twig (Natalie’s wealthy, white best friend). The diversity of the characters provides identity and interest, not issue or plotline. Tension peaks at the egg-drop contest, as the three friends plan to use the prize winnings to bring Natalie’s mother back to life with a gift of a rare cobalt blue orchid. Paralleling their scientific progress, Natalie reluctantly experiences her first visits to talk therapy, slowly opening like a tight bloom.

A compassionate glimpse of mental illness accessible to a broad audience. (Fiction. 10-14)

Pub Date: March 6, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5247-1566-3

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: Nov. 22, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2017

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Some readers may feel that the resolution comes a mite too easily, but most will enjoy the journey and be pleased when...

ASHES TO ASHEVILLE

Two sisters make an unauthorized expedition to their former hometown and in the process bring together the two parts of their divided family.

Dooley packs plenty of emotion into this eventful road trip, which takes place over the course of less than 24 hours. Twelve-year-old Ophelia, nicknamed Fella, and her 16-year-old sister, Zoey Grace, aka Zany, are the daughters of a lesbian couple, Shannon and Lacy, who could not legally marry. The two white girls squabble and share memories as they travel from West Virginia to Asheville, North Carolina, where Zany is determined to scatter Mama Lacy’s ashes in accordance with her wishes. The year is 2004, before the Supreme Court decision on gay marriage, and the girls have been separated by hostile, antediluvian custodial laws. Fella’s present-tense narration paints pictures not just of the difficulties they face on the trip (a snowstorm, car trouble, and an unlikely thief among them), but also of their lives before Mama Lacy’s illness and of the ways that things have changed since then. Breathless and engaging, Fella’s distinctive voice is convincingly childlike. The conversations she has with her sister, as well as her insights about their relationship, likewise ring true. While the girls face serious issues, amusing details and the caring adults in their lives keep the tone relatively light.

Some readers may feel that the resolution comes a mite too easily, but most will enjoy the journey and be pleased when Fella’s family figures out how to come together in a new way . (Historical fiction. 10-14)

Pub Date: April 4, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-399-16504-7

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: Feb. 1, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2017

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