An engaging pair of tales that communicate a thoughtful message with a light touch.

READ REVIEW

ALWAYS UPBEAT / ALL THAT

From the Lockwood Lions series

Husband-and-wife team Stephanie Perry Moore (Get What You Give, 2010) and Derrick Moore (It's Possible!, 2008) deliver a pair of intersecting but distinct stories from the points of view of a cheerleader and a quarterback at a predominantly African-American Atlanta high school.

Spoiled, confident Charli Black and driven athlete Blake Strong have been together for two years. Now, at the start of their junior year, they are growing apart. Blake wants to “take [their] relationship to the next level,” but Charli wants to wait. Charli has become co-captain of the cheerleading squad and is frustrated that Blake expects her always to be available. Or, from Blake's point of view, Blake has important family news (his mother has cancer), and his girl won't make time to talk to him. Giving readers access to both parties' perspectives helps them see where both Blake and Charli go wrong, as well as where each has valid needs and complaints. At the same time, each story is complete within itself, and the two complement rather than repeat each other. A cast of recognizable supporting characters—including sweet Ella and “salty” Eva for Charli and troubled Leo and wannabe gangster Landon for Blake—enlivens each narrator's story.

An engaging pair of tales that communicate a thoughtful message with a light touch. (Fiction. 12-16)

Pub Date: June 1, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-61651-884-4

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Saddleback Educational Publishing

Review Posted Online: April 25, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2012

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Magic, tennis action, and family secrets are woven into an original coming-of-age tale.

LEGACY AND THE QUEEN

A 12-year-old girl living in a kingdom ruled by a mysterious queen dreams of attaining her sport’s highest prize.

Legacy Petrin lives and works in the financially strapped orphanage in the provinces run by her father and rises early every day to practice tennis with her old racket. After her best friend, Van, excitedly tells her about a scholarship competition for a spot at an esteemed academy and the opportunity to try out for the national championships, Legacy runs away to the city to compete. After winning, she learns there is still much she doesn’t know: The players are not just proficient in tennis, but also have magical skills that they use to their advantage. Legacy befriends Pippa, a knowledgeable girl from an elite tennis family, and acquires a builder, or coach, Javi. With Pippa and Javi at her side, Legacy makes her way through the competition, despite sabotage attempts, learning secrets about her own family along the way. Legacy is a strong character, and the secondary characters also have interesting backstories. The storyline is reminiscent of other dystopian stories, but centering tennis—with lively descriptions of matches that give a strong sense of the sport—is an unusual touch. Most characters are white, although Javi is brown-skinned, and some other characters of color are mentioned.

Magic, tennis action, and family secrets are woven into an original coming-of-age tale. (Fantasy. 9-12)

Pub Date: Sept. 3, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-949520-03-3

Page Count: 208

Publisher: Granity Studios

Review Posted Online: June 23, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2019

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A successful romantic enterprise.

THE UPSIDE OF FALLING

High school seniors do the fake dating thing.

Brett Wells has always been focused on football. Brainy Becca Hart’s faith in love was destroyed by her parents’ divorce. The two have little in common other than being pestered by their friends and families about the lack of a special someone in their lives. They embark upon a “fake relationship,” but, predictably, it gives way to a real one. Debut author Light sprinkles in just enough charm and good-natured romance as the narrative bounces between Brett’s and Becca’s perspectives to keep readers engaged but not overwhelmed by twee sentiment. Becca is a much better developed character than Brett (handsome yet doofy, he has the complexity of a golden retriever), and her chapters are the novel’s highlights. Brett’s whole deal is a bigger pill to swallow, but readers who go with it will find a pleasant story. The novel is a syrupy ode to what it feels like to slowly fall for someone for the first time, and that mood is captured effectively. Becca and Brett have chemistry that feels completely natural, but sadly there are some late-in-the-game plot mechanics that feel forced. Fortunately, the author seems as uninterested in these disruptions as readers will be: Things are resolved quickly, and the novel ends on a high note. Whiteness is situated as the norm; main characters are white.

A successful romantic enterprise. (Romance. 12-16)

Pub Date: Feb. 18, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-291805-5

Page Count: 288

Publisher: HarperTeen

Review Posted Online: Nov. 19, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2019

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