Superpowered fun with depth besides.

GUARDIANS OF PORTHAVEN

One family stands between a city and destruction.

In an alternate future North America, Malcolm has trained to be a Guardian along with the rest of his uniquely superpowered family, the Gravenhursts. They are known as the city’s protectors against the klek, mysterious alien robot adversaries, as well as leaders in technological innovation. Now, on his 15th birthday, Malcolm’s wish is finally coming true, as he is presented to the public at a media event. But Malcolm wants to help people by fighting regular street crime, like the superheroes he idolizes from old comic books. He makes a rare exit from his family’s towering skyscraper and goes on patrol only to find something unexpected: Drew, someone else with powers. Drew introduces him to Blair and Kazue, more superpowered kids; their friend Ibrahim is missing, along with others. Initially thrilled, sheltered Malcolm isn’t expecting to learn from them that people’s powers don’t work outside the city limits and that his family has some connection to these unsettling truths. Arbuthnott revels in some tried-and-true aspects of superhero stories—presenting lots of action, pondering questions of morality, and protecting humanity against alien invaders—making for exhilarating storytelling. But the book goes deeper as Malcolm comes face to face with the limitations of his earlier, limited understanding of crime, policing, and society. Malcolm is White; Drew and Blair have dark skin, Kazue’s name indicates Japanese heritage (she and Blair are girlfriends), and Ibrahim is cued as being of Middle Eastern descent.

Superpowered fun with depth besides. (Science fiction. 10-14)

Pub Date: Sept. 14, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-4598-2704-2

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Orca

Review Posted Online: July 8, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 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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