A smart choice for teen readers.

NemeSIS

In Marshall’s first novel, a determined girl makes it through 10th grade despite her bully of a sister.

Lonely Nadine Stewart has a mouse for a friend and little else. Her parents have divorced, with her father settling in New York and taking a new girlfriend; her mother’s out of the house most of the time working on her real estate license. Her older sister, Rachel, is more or less her constant companion, and often an unwanted one. Her intense mood swings get in the way of Nadine’s desire to pull herself out of her misery and make friends, maybe even date. When Rachel feels bad, she makes sure Nadine feels worse—and she’s very inventive. Nadine is very good at keeping her cool: “It was all I could do not to react, but I had this whole routine going where I took cleansing breaths to stay calm. It’s like what you do when you meditate.” As she decides to start moving forward with her life, Nadine makes serious progress. She meets Anne, a transfer student with twin older brothers, and gets a spot on the field hockey team. All the while, though, she contends with the secret of Rachel’s bullying as well as with other bullies. When she finds the support and the strength to stand up to her sister, Nadine is surprised at just what happens. Marshall has written a rare book: a YA novel in which serious themes—divorce, isolation, mental health, bullying, etc.—are considered without admonishing readers or beating them over the head with lessons. Instead, readers progress through sophomore year with Nadine, sharing her daily discouragements and small triumphs. The recurrence of certain problems is only natural; they’re part of Nadine’s experience, after all. On top of that, Marshall accurately portrays the relative gravity of teenage crushes and friend-group drama—heavy considerations for the high school crowd.

A smart choice for teen readers.

Pub Date: April 4, 2017

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: -

Publisher: Blue Moon

Review Posted Online: May 28, 2015

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Little Blue Truck keeps on truckin’—but not without some backfires.

LITTLE BLUE TRUCK'S VALENTINE

Little Blue Truck feels, well, blue when he delivers valentine after valentine but receives nary a one.

His bed overflowing with cards, Blue sets out to deliver a yellow card with purple polka dots and a shiny purple heart to Hen, one with a shiny fuchsia heart to Pig, a big, shiny, red heart-shaped card to Horse, and so on. With each delivery there is an exchange of Beeps from Blue and the appropriate animal sounds from his friends, Blue’s Beeps always set in blue and the animal’s vocalization in a color that matches the card it receives. But as Blue heads home, his deliveries complete, his headlight eyes are sad and his front bumper droops ever so slightly. Blue is therefore surprised (but readers may not be) when he pulls into his garage to be greeted by all his friends with a shiny blue valentine just for him. In this, Blue’s seventh outing, it’s not just the sturdy protagonist that seems to be wilting. Schertle’s verse, usually reliable, stumbles more than once; stanzas such as “But Valentine’s Day / didn’t seem much fun / when he didn’t get cards / from anyone” will cause hitches during read-alouds. The illustrations, done by Joseph in the style of original series collaborator Jill McElmurry, are pleasant enough, but his compositions often feel stiff and forced.

Little Blue Truck keeps on truckin’—but not without some backfires. (Board book. 1-4)

Pub Date: Dec. 8, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-358-27244-1

Page Count: 20

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: Jan. 19, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2021

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Readers can still rely on this series to bring laughs.

WRECKING BALL

From the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series , Vol. 14

The Heffley family’s house undergoes a disastrous attempt at home improvement.

When Great Aunt Reba dies, she leaves some money to the family. Greg’s mom calls a family meeting to determine what to do with their share, proposing home improvements and then overruling the family’s cartoonish wish lists and instead pushing for an addition to the kitchen. Before bringing in the construction crew, the Heffleys attempt to do minor maintenance and repairs themselves—during which Greg fails at the work in various slapstick scenes. Once the professionals are brought in, the problems keep getting worse: angry neighbors, terrifying problems in walls, and—most serious—civil permitting issues that put the kibosh on what work’s been done. Left with only enough inheritance to patch and repair the exterior of the house—and with the school’s dismal standardized test scores as a final straw—Greg’s mom steers the family toward moving, opening up house-hunting and house-selling storylines (and devastating loyal Rowley, who doesn’t want to lose his best friend). While Greg’s positive about the move, he’s not completely uncaring about Rowley’s action. (And of course, Greg himself is not as unaffected as he wishes.) The gags include effectively placed callbacks to seemingly incidental events (the “stress lizard” brought in on testing day is particularly funny) and a lampoon of after-school-special–style problem books. Just when it seems that the Heffleys really will move, a new sequence of chaotic trouble and property destruction heralds a return to the status quo. Whew.

Readers can still rely on this series to bring laughs. (Graphic/fiction hybrid. 8-12)

Pub Date: Nov. 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4197-3903-3

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Amulet/Abrams

Review Posted Online: Nov. 19, 2019

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