It’s pitched most directly to older audiences, but younger ones may catch some of the sonic, thematic, and emotional...

THE MOON WATCHED IT ALL

A silver-haired, solitary moon-watcher and a young, likewise solitary visitor find what they need in each other.

“At dawn, the sun jeweled tree and rooftops alike.” Written in richly allusive, atmospheric prose that will keep lovers of words pinned to the page, this original tale brings together Mirada, dreamlessly rocking away each night with the moon her sole companion, and a vagrant, straw-haired lad known down in the village only as “Get Out Of The Way, Boy,” or sometimes “Take That, Boy.” Never uttering a sound aside from an occasional “Merry, merry” from a fragmentary memory of a boat song, the child lives in fear and hunger until he wanders one night into Mirada’s garden, where a glimpse of him, “walking-stick thin” and dressed in rags, reawakens memories of her own, long-gone family. She invites him in for tea, and soup, and bread—and from that moment the two are inseparable, as days and seasons and years go by and the moon watches over all. Using such a subdued palette that day can hardly be told from night in her transparent, woodsy watercolors, Ando goes for close-ups of faces (all white) and unframed natural scenes that spill over the trimmed edges or fade into open space.

It’s pitched most directly to older audiences, but younger ones may catch some of the sonic, thematic, and emotional resonances. (Picture book. 8-12, adult)

Pub Date: March 15, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-88995-537-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Red Deer Press

Review Posted Online: Feb. 13, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2019

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Readers can still rely on this series to bring laughs.

WRECKING BALL

From the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series , Vol. 14

The Heffley family’s house undergoes a disastrous attempt at home improvement.

When Great Aunt Reba dies, she leaves some money to the family. Greg’s mom calls a family meeting to determine what to do with their share, proposing home improvements and then overruling the family’s cartoonish wish lists and instead pushing for an addition to the kitchen. Before bringing in the construction crew, the Heffleys attempt to do minor maintenance and repairs themselves—during which Greg fails at the work in various slapstick scenes. Once the professionals are brought in, the problems keep getting worse: angry neighbors, terrifying problems in walls, and—most serious—civil permitting issues that put the kibosh on what work’s been done. Left with only enough inheritance to patch and repair the exterior of the house—and with the school’s dismal standardized test scores as a final straw—Greg’s mom steers the family toward moving, opening up house-hunting and house-selling storylines (and devastating loyal Rowley, who doesn’t want to lose his best friend). While Greg’s positive about the move, he’s not completely uncaring about Rowley’s action. (And of course, Greg himself is not as unaffected as he wishes.) The gags include effectively placed callbacks to seemingly incidental events (the “stress lizard” brought in on testing day is particularly funny) and a lampoon of after-school-special–style problem books. Just when it seems that the Heffleys really will move, a new sequence of chaotic trouble and property destruction heralds a return to the status quo. Whew.

Readers can still rely on this series to bring laughs. (Graphic/fiction hybrid. 8-12)

Pub Date: Nov. 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4197-3903-3

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Amulet/Abrams

Review Posted Online: Nov. 19, 2019

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A road trip to remember.

CLEAN GETAWAY

Using the Negro Travelers’ Green Book and her hidden past as a road map, a grandma takes her grandson on a cross country journey.

When G’ma pulls up to William “Scoob” Lamar’s house in a brand-new Winnebago and invites him on an adventure, Scoob leaves a note for his dad and jumps in. Despite not knowing where they are going, or why G’ma has traded in her Mini Cooper and house for the RV, Scoob is a willing wingman because he wants to save spring break and escape his strict single dad for a few days. Readers will appreciate the bond between Scoob and G’ma; Stone balances fun with emotion for a compelling read. After they cross from Georgia to Alabama and G’ma keeps avoiding Dad’s calls, Scoob begins to get suspicious. When G’ma lets him see the contents of her once off-limits treasure box, which includes a 1963 edition of the Travelers’ Green Book, Scoob understands this trip means much more than even he imagined. The complex role race plays in their family and on this trip—Scoob is mixed-race and presents black, and G’ma is white—is explored in a meaningful way that provides details about a period in time as well as present-day realities. Rich in history, Stone’s middle-grade debut entertains and informs young readers. The subdued ending may frustrate, but the journey, punctuated by Anyabwile’s grayscale cartoons, is well worth it.

A road trip to remember. (Fiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: Jan. 7, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-9297-3

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: Sept. 15, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2019

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