A cozy, mildly suspenseful read.

READ REVIEW

SPIRITS AMONG US

An aspiring ghost hunter who uses a motorized wheelchair becomes a sleuth when a robber strikes her Kentucky hometown.

Twelve-year-old Scooter, a self-described “sensitive,” is fascinated by ghosts; she and her best friend, Harlan, chronicle their ghost-hunting vigils on their YouTube channel, “Spirits Among Us.” But the spirit she really longs to meet is her Momma, who died in the car accident that injured Scooter’s spinal cord a year ago. When Scooter attempts to record the ghost of her great-great-great-grandfather, a repentant former slave owner, she captures something else: a clue to the robberies plaguing her family’s holler, Chamber’s Corner. Can she and Harlan—and her trusty Labrador, Max—identify the culprit before her family’s paintball business is hit? Heavy foreshadowing weakens the mystery, but Scooter’s conversational narration and a dash of suspense keep the pages turning. A tender exploration of family and loss forms the story’s heart. Scooter’s close-knit extended family is warmly supportive despite her Marine dad’s stern exterior, and the ending is sweet if somewhat pat. Howard—who relearned how to walk as a child—portrays Scooter’s disability realistically, including her hopes of recovery and insecurity about the appearance of her legs. Most characters default to White, though a description of Harlan’s tightly curled black hair may lead readers to imagine him as Black.

A cozy, mildly suspenseful read. (Mystery. 8-12)

Pub Date: Oct. 22, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4788-7027-2

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Reycraft Books

Review Posted Online: Aug. 18, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2020

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An apocalyptic adventure with a whole lot of heart.

THE LAST KIDS ON EARTH AND THE ZOMBIE PARADE

From the Last Kids on Earth series , Vol. 2

Thirteen-year-old Jack Sullivan and his crew of monster-fighting besties are fresh off their victorious battle against the evil Blarg, but there’s no rest for the weary in the middle of a Monster Apocalypse.

First, Joe’s Pizza has become the local monster hangout. And second, the zombies seem to be disappearing. Thankfully, the white boy, his not-so-secret Latina love, June Del Toro, his African-American, science-nerd best friend, Quint, and pre-apocalypse bully–turned-ally Dirk, a large white boy who loves to garden, befriend a man-monster who might have the answers to everything. Equal parts humor, adventure, and warmth, the book offers fans of the series and new readers alike an entirely agreeable outing. Jack’s witty narration and Holgate’s pitch-perfect illustrations make for a terrific read that’s particularly well suited for middle-grade boys who might otherwise be reluctant to pick up a book. There are plenty of foul-smelling, brain-sucking monsters and gizmos and gadgets to delight, but at its core, this is a story about friendship. Orphaned at birth and raised by a foster family he describes as jerks, Jack has always longed for a family of his own. Now that he has one, the only thing scarier than the monsters is the thought of losing them.

An apocalyptic adventure with a whole lot of heart. (Horror. 8-12)

Pub Date: Sept. 6, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-670-01662-4

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: July 2, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2016

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An extraordinary, timely, must-read debut about love, family, friendship, and justice.

FROM THE DESK OF ZOE WASHINGTON

After receiving a letter from her incarcerated father, whom she’s never met, 12-year-old Zoe sets out to prove his innocence.

It’s the summer before seventh grade, and aspiring pastry chef Zoe sets her sights on perfecting her baking skills to audition as a contestant on Food Network’s Kids Bake Challenge. One day, she receives a letter from her father, Marcus, who was sent to prison for murder right before Zoe was born. She’s never met Marcus, and her mother wants her to have nothing to do with him. So Zoe keeps the letter a secret and begins corresponding with Marcus on a regular basis. He shares his favorite songs and encourages Zoe’s baking-competition dreams. When Marcus proclaims his innocence, Zoe is shocked: How could someone innocent end up in prison? With the help of her grandmother and her friend Trevor, Zoe begins to learn about systemic racism and how Black people like her and Marcus are more likely to be wrongfully convicted of murder than White people. Zoe’s relationship with Marcus is at the center of the novel, but her relationships with her mother, stepfather, grandmother, and Trevor are also richly conveyed. This powerful debut packs both depth and sweetness, tackling a tough topic in a sensitive, compelling way.

An extraordinary, timely, must-read debut about love, family, friendship, and justice. (Fiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: Jan. 14, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-287585-3

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Katherine Tegen/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Sept. 15, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2019

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