OUT OF MY MIND

Melody, diagnosed with cerebral palsy, cannot walk or talk. Despite her parents’ best efforts, the outside world has defined her by her condition. Melody’s life changes when inclusion classrooms are introduced in her school, and she interacts with children other than those in her special-needs unit. To these children, Melody is “other,” and they are mostly uncomfortable with her sounds and jerky movements. Normal problems of school friendships are magnified. Preparation for a trivia competition and acquisition of a computer that lets her communicate her thoughts reveal Melody’s intelligence to the world. Melody is an entirely complete character, who gives a compelling view from inside her mind. Draper never shies away from the difficulties Melody and her family face. Descriptions of both Melody’s challenges—“Going to the bathroom at school just plain sucks”—and the insensitivities of some are unflinching and realistic. Realistically, Melody’s resilient spirit cannot keep her from experiencing heartbreak and disappointment even after she has demonstrated her intellect. This book is rich in detail of both the essential normalcy and the difficulties of a young person with cerebral palsy. (Fiction. 10 & up)

Pub Date: March 9, 2010

ISBN: 978-1-4169-7170-2

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Atheneum

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2010

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SMILE

Telgemeier has created an utterly charming graphic memoir of tooth trauma, first crushes and fickle friends, sweetly reminiscent of Judy Blume’s work. One night, Raina trips and falls after a Girl Scout meeting, knocking out her two front teeth. This leads to years of painful surgeries, braces, agonizing root canals and other oral atrocities. Her friends offer little solace through this trying ordeal, spending more of their time teasing than comforting her. After years of these girls’ constant belittling, Raina branches out and finds her own voice and a new group of friends. Young girls will relate to her story, and her friend-angst is palpable. Readers should not overlook this seemingly simply drawn work; the strong writing and emotionally expressive characters add an unexpected layer of depth. As an afterword, the author includes a photo of her smiling, showing off the results of all of the years of pain she endured. Irresistible, funny and touching—a must read for all teenage girls, whether en-braced or not. (Graphic memoir. 12 & up)

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2010

ISBN: 978-0-545-13205-3

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Bantam Discovery

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2010

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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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