The author’s love for camp shines through, and although this novel will likely have a narrow appeal, it’s a strong choice...

CAMP ROLLING HILLS

From the Camp Rolling Hills series , Vol. 1

An anxious boy and a grieving girl on the cusp of adolescence find nascent love at Camp Rolling Hills, a summer camp steeped in its own mythology and culture.

The book features the two worst nicknames for protagonists in recent memory. Slimey, age 12, has been going to Camp Rolling Hills since she was a little girl, but it’s Smelly’s first summer. Smelly, who suffers from anxiety and gains confidence over the course of the novel, is there because his parents need time to work out their marriage difficulties. Slimey, who works hard to hide her pain, is still heartbroken over the death of her father. This slice-of-summer novel is overpopulated, with six characters in the boys’ bunk and six in the girls’ plus two counselors, and readers may have trouble keeping track of who’s who. With all these characters, it’s a shame it’s not more obviously diverse, with one Yiddish-spouting Asian boy and another with an Afro (but white skin in the thumbnail guide to the characters in the frontmatter). It’s told from alternating third-person perspectives, Slimey’s and Smelly’s, augmented by funnily realistic letters home from other campers. The book celebrates summer camp as a safe place for children to reinvent themselves, to experiment and be more daring than they might otherwise be.

The author’s love for camp shines through, and although this novel will likely have a narrow appeal, it’s a strong choice for first-time campers and for those who find camp and its rituals delightful. (Fiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: May 10, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-4197-1885-4

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Amulet/Abrams

Review Posted Online: March 2, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2016

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For every dreaming girl (and boy) with a pencil in hand (or keyboard) and a story to share. (Memoir/poetry. 8-12)

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  • Kirkus Reviews'
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  • New York Times Bestseller

  • Newbery Honor Book

  • Coretta Scott King Book Award Winner

  • National Book Award Winner

BROWN GIRL DREAMING

A multiaward–winning author recalls her childhood and the joy of becoming a writer.

Writing in free verse, Woodson starts with her 1963 birth in Ohio during the civil rights movement, when America is “a country caught / / between Black and White.” But while evoking names such as Malcolm, Martin, James, Rosa and Ruby, her story is also one of family: her father’s people in Ohio and her mother’s people in South Carolina. Moving south to live with her maternal grandmother, she is in a world of sweet peas and collards, getting her hair straightened and avoiding segregated stores with her grandmother. As the writer inside slowly grows, she listens to family stories and fills her days and evenings as a Jehovah’s Witness, activities that continue after a move to Brooklyn to reunite with her mother. The gift of a composition notebook, the experience of reading John Steptoe’s Stevie and Langston Hughes’ poetry, and seeing letters turn into words and words into thoughts all reinforce her conviction that “[W]ords are my brilliance.” Woodson cherishes her memories and shares them with a graceful lyricism; her lovingly wrought vignettes of country and city streets will linger long after the page is turned.

For every dreaming girl (and boy) with a pencil in hand (or keyboard) and a story to share. (Memoir/poetry. 8-12)

Pub Date: Aug. 28, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-399-25251-8

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Nancy Paulsen Books

Review Posted Online: June 25, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2014

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Poet Alexander deftly reveals the power of the format to pack an emotional punch.

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THE CROSSOVER

Basketball-playing twins find challenges to their relationship on and off the court as they cope with changes in their lives.

Josh Bell and his twin, Jordan, aka JB, are stars of their school basketball team. They are also successful students, since their educator mother will stand for nothing else. As the two middle schoolers move to a successful season, readers can see their differences despite the sibling connection. After all, Josh has dreadlocks and is quiet on court, and JB is bald and a trash talker. Their love of the sport comes from their father, who had also excelled in the game, though his championship was achieved overseas. Now, however, he does not have a job and seems to have health problems the parents do not fully divulge to the boys. The twins experience their first major rift when JB is attracted to a new girl in their school, and Josh finds himself without his brother. This novel in verse is rich in character and relationships. Most interesting is the family dynamic that informs so much of the narrative, which always reveals, never tells. While Josh relates the story, readers get a full picture of major and minor players. The basketball action provides energy and rhythm for a moving story.

Poet Alexander deftly reveals the power of the format to pack an emotional punch. (Verse fiction. 9-12)

Pub Date: March 18, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-544-10771-7

Page Count: 240

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: Dec. 18, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2014

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