A zippy little visit with a likable 10-year-old.

WINNER TAKES ALL

From the Kate the Great series , Vol. 2

Ten-year-old Kate juggles new and old friendships.

Kate lives in a happy household with an older sister, a toddler sister, and her mom and dad, who seem to manage their family (all-white) very well indeed. Kate has no problems with her parents, but she learns that her newest friend, Nora, will soon be moving to California. She also realizes that her best friend, Brooke, might be spending time with Nora and not telling Kate. Meanwhile, Kate participates in her Junior Guides annual food-drive contest with unexpected results. She also makes another new friend: an elderly shut-in lady, Mrs. Verlagen, whom she used to fear just a bit. The story is presented as a Wimpy Kid–style illustrated diary; Kate’s frequent, little drawings, such as an illustration of the bowl of written aphorisms that her family uses as conversation starters, decorate the pages, along with definitions of words such as “druther” and lists. (The cast as presented in her cartoons appears to be a largely white one.) The author inserts a bit of suspense when Mrs. Verlagen loses her beloved cat, but young readers can rest assured that everything will come out well and that Kate will learn more about friendship. The whole book comes across as a breezy, enjoyable excursion, even going to school.

A zippy little visit with a likable 10-year-old. (Fiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-385-38880-1

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: Sept. 19, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 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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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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NIGHTBIRD

There’s a monster in Sidwell, Massachusetts, that can only be seen at night or, as Twig reveals, if passersby are near her house.

It’s her older brother, James, born with wings just like every male in the Fowler line for the last 200 years. They were cursed by the Witch of Sidwell, left brokenhearted by their forebear Lowell Fowler. Twig and James are tired of the secret and self-imposed isolation. Lonely Twig narrates, bringing the small town and its characters to life, intertwining events present and past, and describing the effects of the spell on her fractured family’s daily life. Longing for some normalcy and companionship, she befriends new-neighbor Julia while James falls in love with Julia’s sister, Agate—only to learn they are descendants of the Witch. James and Agate seem as star-crossed as their ancestors, especially when the townspeople attribute a spate of petty thefts and graffiti protesting the development of the woods to the monster and launch a hunt. The mix of romance and magic is irresistible and the tension, compelling. With the help of friends and through a series of self-realizations and discoveries, Twig grows more self-assured. She is certain she knows how to change the curse. In so doing, Twig not only changes James’ fate, but her own, for the first time feeling the fullness of family, friends and hope for the future.

Enchanting. (Magical realism. 9-12)

Pub Date: March 10, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-385-38958-7

Page Count: 208

Publisher: Wendy Lamb/Random

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2015

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