For reluctant readers not drawn to genre fiction, this story may speak to them for a little while.




Snapchat takes center stage in this Disney-esque drama about middle school girl friendships and a Snapstreak competition.

A local TV station announces a contest for the longest Snapstreak between two students from different schools. The reward is a concert by the popular boy band Boys Being Dudes. Black eighth-grader Vee, who will soon be moving to a new school, courageously asks Gwynneth, its white queen bee, to be her partner in the contest. Vee and Gwynneth are leading the competition when Vee sustains a concussion playing lacrosse and must give up screen time. Vee’s best friends, Megan, a white girl, and Lulu, a Latina, take over her cellphone for her—and things go awry quickly. The frothy story is told from multiple points of view, each girl’s voice flagged with distinctive borders. Unfortunately, all four voices sound similar. The integration of this ubiquitous app into the story mimics real life, with all the distractions and attractions in the world of young teens, and the inaccurate assumptions the girls form via Snapchat make for a strong message. Even though Snapchat legally requires users to be 13, this book for preteens assumes familiarity with its conventions. Luckily, emoji-speak and acronyms are kept to a minimum. The content may already be dated, as the ephemeral Snapchat “story” function has overtaken “chatting.”

For reluctant readers not drawn to genre fiction, this story may speak to them for a little while. (Fiction. 10-12)

Pub Date: Feb. 6, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-328-71346-9

Page Count: 192

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: Oct. 30, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2017

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

The dice are rolling readers’ way in this third outing.


From the Sunny series , Vol. 3

Sunny, in seventh grade, finds her score on the Groovy Meter taking some wild swings as her friends’ interests move in different directions.

In a motif that haunts her throughout, Sunny succumbs to a teen magazine’s personality quiz and sees her tally seesaw radically. Her BF Deb has suddenly switched focus to boys, clothes, and bands such as the Bee Gees (this is 1977)—dismissing trick-or-treating and wearing galoshes on rainy days as “babyish.” Meanwhile, Sunny takes delight in joining nerdy neighbors Lev, Brian, and Arun in regular sessions of Dungeons and Dragons (as a fighter character, so cool). The storytelling is predominantly visual in this episodic outing, with just occasional snatches of dialogue and pithy labels to fill in details or mark the passage of time; frequent reaction shots deftly capture Sunny’s feelings of being pulled this way and that. Tellingly, in the Holms’ panels (colored by Pien), Sunny’s depicted as significantly smaller than Deb, visually underscoring her developmental awkwardness. Deb’s comment that “we’re too old to be playing games like that” leads Sunny to drop out of the D&D circle and even go to the school’s staggeringly dull spring dance. Sunny’s mostly white circle of peers expands and becomes more diverse as she continues to navigate her way through the dark chambers and misty passages of early adolescence. Lev is an Orthodox Jew, Arun is South Asian, and Regina, another female friend, has brown skin.

The dice are rolling readers’ way in this third outing. (Graphic historical fiction. 10-12)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-338-23314-8

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Graphix/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: June 23, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2019

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

An entertaining continuation to a magical series that celebrates diversity with a magical twist.


From the Fairy Tale Reform School series , Vol. 5

With Rumpelstiltskin and his band of villains still on the loose, the students and staff of Fairy Tale Reform School are on high alert as they prepare for the next attack.

Classes are devoted to teaching battle techniques and conjuring new weapons, which narrator Gilly finds preferable to learning history or manners. But Maxine, her ogress friend, has had it with all the doom and gloom. The last straw is when the agenda at the Royal Lady-in-Waiting meeting is changed from “How to Plan the Perfect Fairy Garden Party” to designing flying rocks and creating flower darts. While on a class field trip to the village to investigate their future careers, Maxine finds a magic lamp housing a genie named Darlene. Her wish that everyone be happy works a little too well. War preparations are put on hold as the school fills with flowers, laughter, and plans for a musical production. But when Gilly is tapped to fill in for the local chief of the dwarf police, things really take a turn for the worse. The students, including fairies, ogres, and the part-human/part-beast offspring of Beauty and the ex-Beast, focus on friendship and supporting one another in spite of their differences. Humility, forgiveness, and loyalty are also highly regarded in the FTRS community. Human Gilly is white, but there is racial as well as species diversity at FTRS.

An entertaining continuation to a magical series that celebrates diversity with a magical twist. (Fantasy. 10-12)

Pub Date: March 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4926-5167-3

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Sourcebooks Jabberwocky

Review Posted Online: Nov. 21, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2018

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet