Strange and genuinely introspective.

LAST MEETING OF THE GORILLA CLUB

What happens when invisible friends won’t leave you alone?

It’s three weeks into the school year, and Josh Duncan is prepared for his first day of fifth grade after his family’s move, armed with his inhaler and a new raincoat for the perpetually wet Pacific Northwest weather. Josh tells himself it won’t be like the first day of kindergarten, when he got an awkward nickname and saw Big Brother for the first time. Yet Big Brother is there, speaking in Josh’s ear despite the distance from his old backyard, where his parents made him bury a rock with Big Brother’s name on it. Meanwhile, Lucas Hernandez isn’t sure what’s up with the new kid, but he’s dealing with his own recently reappeared apparition: Maxie Moon. If Lucas does this one thing for Maxie, she tells him, she’ll leave him alone for good. Lucas’ name and some casually dropped Spanish signals his distinction from his assumed-white classmates, and Josh, who is white, displays symptoms of social anxiety. Blurring the line between imaginary friends and ghosts, Nickerson creates an atmospheric narrative that turns typically mundane activities, like riding a bike around the neighborhood, into existential ponderings on borderlines and time. Readers can dive in and get lost in ambiguous, creepy elements that will prepare them for the horror of Stephen King.

Strange and genuinely introspective. (Fiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: Aug. 27, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-101-99442-9

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Dutton

Review Posted Online: July 14, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2019

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A story of fierce friendship, bravery, loyalty, and finding—or making—a place to belong.

THE MIDNIGHT CHILDREN

Ravani Foster and the whole town of Slaughterville are changed by the arrival of seven unusual children.

Skinny, lonely Ravani is the only one who sees the children arrive and move into the house across the street, and he soon finds a comrade in tough, golden-haired Virginia. Despite the local newspaper owner’s assertion that Slaughterville is not the kind of town where exciting things happen, Ravani’s life changes dramatically as Virginia and her chosen family of parentless kids calling themselves the Ragabonds let him in on their secret: They are on the run. When vicious bully Donnie learns that the Ragabonds are being pursued, he blackmails Ravani, who is desperate to protect them and equally desperate for Virginia, his first friend, to stay. She introduces him to the quietly revolutionary idea that things don’t have to be the way they’ve always been. The omniscient narrative voice is a strong presence throughout, drawing readers’ attention to themes including choices that make a difference, connections between people (“Sometimes, when two souls find each other in the darkness, the darkness goes away”), deciding who you want to be and not letting others define you, and the importance of home and family. Brief chapters from the perspective of the man hunting the Ragabonds ratchet up the suspense, culminating in an exciting sequence of events followed by a heartwarming ending. All main characters are coded White.

A story of fierce friendship, bravery, loyalty, and finding—or making—a place to belong. (Fiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: Aug. 30, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-250-19672-9

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: May 10, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2022

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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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