Thought-provoking and smart and a great springboard for discussions on race and class.

READ REVIEW

PRESIDENT OF THE WHOLE SIXTH GRADE

GIRL CODE

From the President series

Brianna Justice wants nothing more than to be a star reporter.

The president of her sixth-grade class at Blueberry Hills Middle School, this young, African-American student always gets what she goes after—most of the time. Her overzealousness to be mentored by her favorite TV news reporter backfires and lands her instead with a newspaper journalist. As her first assignment, he has her cover a SheCodes program at Price Academy. Brianna frets over this seemingly lackluster assignment because the school is located in what she believes to be a “shady neighborhood” on Detroit’s east side. From the first, Brianna wrestles with self-consciousness over her financial privilege and with her own stereotypes about the African-American students at Price. She comes to realize that using the word “ghetto” to describe the kids she meets there is not only derogatory, but it also deflects attention from the real issues of poverty and lack of opportunity within that community. This perceptive tale about how a young girl grapples with the diversity of conditions within her own racial demographic trusts its readers with weighty material. Winston does an excellent job highlighting the complex race issues that African-American children face. Though her father and grandfather tell her not to use the word “ghetto,” it is her white mentor who schools Brianna on the history of the word, and this is when the use of the word finally sinks in for her.

Thought-provoking and smart and a great springboard for discussions on race and class. (Fiction. 10-13)

Pub Date: March 6, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-316-50528-4

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: March 27, 2018

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

Fans of R.J. Palacio's Wonder (2012) will appreciate this feel-good story of friendship and unconventional smarts.

FISH IN A TREE

Hunt draws a portrait of dyslexia and getting along.

Ally Nickerson, who’s passed through seven schools in seven years, maintains a Sketchbook of Impossible Things. A snowman in a furnace factory is more plausible than imagining herself doing something right—like reading. She doesn't know why, but letters dance and give her headaches. Her acting out to disguise her difficulty causes headaches for her teachers, who, oddly, never consider dyslexia, even though each notices signs like inconsistent spellings of the same word. Ally's confusion is poignant when misunderstandings like an unintentional sympathy card for a pregnant teacher make her good intentions backfire, and readers will sympathize as she copes with the class "mean girls." When a creative new teacher, Mr. Daniels, steps in, the plot turns more uplifting but also metaphor-heavy; a coin with a valuable flaw, cupcakes with hidden letters, mystery boxes and references to the Island of Misfit Toys somewhat belabor the messages that things aren't always what they seem and everyone is smart in their own ways. Despite emphasis on "thinking outside the box," characters are occasionally stereotypical—a snob, a brainiac, an unorthodox teacher—but Ally's new friendships are satisfying, as are the recognition of her dyslexia and her renewed determination to read.

Fans of R.J. Palacio's Wonder (2012) will appreciate this feel-good story of friendship and unconventional smarts. (Fiction. 10-12)

Pub Date: Feb. 5, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-399-16259-6

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Nancy Paulsen Books

Review Posted Online: Nov. 18, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2014

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

The dice are rolling readers’ way in this third outing.

SUNNY ROLLS THE DICE

From the Sunny series , Vol. 3

Sunny, in seventh grade, finds her score on the Groovy Meter taking some wild swings as her friends’ interests move in different directions.

In a motif that haunts her throughout, Sunny succumbs to a teen magazine’s personality quiz and sees her tally seesaw radically. Her BF Deb has suddenly switched focus to boys, clothes, and bands such as the Bee Gees (this is 1977)—dismissing trick-or-treating and wearing galoshes on rainy days as “babyish.” Meanwhile, Sunny takes delight in joining nerdy neighbors Lev, Brian, and Arun in regular sessions of Dungeons and Dragons (as a fighter character, so cool). The storytelling is predominantly visual in this episodic outing, with just occasional snatches of dialogue and pithy labels to fill in details or mark the passage of time; frequent reaction shots deftly capture Sunny’s feelings of being pulled this way and that. Tellingly, in the Holms’ panels (colored by Pien), Sunny’s depicted as significantly smaller than Deb, visually underscoring her developmental awkwardness. Deb’s comment that “we’re too old to be playing games like that” leads Sunny to drop out of the D&D circle and even go to the school’s staggeringly dull spring dance. Sunny’s mostly white circle of peers expands and becomes more diverse as she continues to navigate her way through the dark chambers and misty passages of early adolescence. Lev is an Orthodox Jew, Arun is South Asian, and Regina, another female friend, has brown skin.

The dice are rolling readers’ way in this third outing. (Graphic historical fiction. 10-12)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-338-23314-8

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Graphix/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: June 23, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2019

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet
more