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SHARK TEETH by Sherri Winston Kirkus Star


by Sherri Winston

Pub Date: Jan. 16th, 2024
ISBN: 9781547608508
Publisher: Bloomsbury

A Florida middle schooler tries to hide her problems at home as she attempts to have a normal school experience.

Sharkita Lloyd is fearful that something will happen to disrupt her family life again. Her mother’s neglect landed Kita and younger siblings Lilli and Lamar in separate foster homes for the summer. Mama seems to be trying her best, but Kita continues to do more than her share of caregiving, a difficult task, especially given that 8-year-old Lamar has fetal alcohol syndrome. Mama’s fierce temper also keeps Kita on edge, doing all she can to make her happy. As she begins seventh grade, Kita ponders all the experiences she’s missed. She’s also self-conscious about her appearance due to dental issues that have led to bullying. The new assistant principal extends an invitation to her new dance team, but as much as Kita wants to join and become a baton twirler, she fears her mother’s irresponsibility will make it impossible. Even as Kita allows herself to relax, engage with friends and school activities, and believe in her family’s future, her worst fears come true. The cast is primarily African American, and cultural touchstones are woven throughout. This is an outstanding depiction of the impact that family stressors can have on a household’s youngest members. Winston skillfully shares Kita’s story, allowing readers to understand and empathize with her plight. The supporting characters are well drawn and add both richness and texture to the narrative.

A deeply satisfying tale with an irresistible protagonist.

(Fiction. 9-12)