Lively, engaging, perfectly pitched tween drama.

ENEMIES

From the Berrybrook Middle School series , Vol. 5

In this latest addition to the Berrybrook Middle School series, a girl enters a school contest for the wrong reasons—with mixed results.

Felicity Teale loves art, writing, and cosplay; she is less keen on school. In contrast to her organized, punctual, science-award–winning younger sister, Letty, Felicity has serious gaming and drawing skills but fails to complete projects. In elementary school, Felicity, who is Black, was close friends with Korean American Joseph Koh, but their middle school relationship has been complicated since super outgoing Felicity tried to pressure Joseph to socialize more. To prove to Letty that she can complete and win something, Felicity enters an entrepreneur club contest with a $1,000 prize. But Joseph also enters, partnering with someone from their gaming group and shutting Felicity out. Obsessed with winning, Felicity nixes her partner Tess’ suggestions and rejects Letty’s offer of help with the business plan. Although Felicity and Tess come up with a great idea, they fail to complete the submission on time, and Felicity’s behavior alienates Joseph and offends Tess. Felicity’s humorous, colloquial, first-person narration rings true, from her passion for gaming to her sibling rivalry to her volatile middle school relationships. With its use of emphatic text, exaggerated gestures and facial expressions, a muted color palette, and rapidly changing visual perspectives, the graphic format proves ideal for anime fan Felicity’s tale of self-acceptance, friendship, and family.

Lively, engaging, perfectly pitched tween drama. (Graphic novel. 9-13)

Pub Date: Sept. 27, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-975312-79-4

Page Count: 256

Publisher: JY

Review Posted Online: Aug. 31, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2022

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Charming, poignant, and thoughtfully woven.

CLUES TO THE UNIVERSE

An aspiring scientist and a budding artist become friends and help each other with dream projects.

Unfolding in mid-1980s Sacramento, California, this story stars 12-year-olds Rosalind and Benjamin as first-person narrators in alternating chapters. Ro’s father, a fellow space buff, was killed by a drunk driver; the rocket they were working on together lies unfinished in her closet. As for Benji, not only has his best friend, Amir, moved away, but the comic book holding the clue for locating his dad is also missing. Along with their profound personal losses, the protagonists share a fixation with the universe’s intriguing potential: Ro decides to complete the rocket and hopes to launch mementos of her father into outer space while Benji’s conviction that aliens and UFOs are real compels his imagination and creativity as an artist. An accident in science class triggers a chain of events forcing Benji and Ro, who is new to the school, to interact and unintentionally learn each other’s secrets. They resolve to find Benji’s dad—a famous comic-book artist—and partner to finish Ro’s rocket for the science fair. Together, they overcome technical, scheduling, and geographical challenges. Readers will be drawn in by amusing and fantastical elements in the comic book theme, high emotional stakes that arouse sympathy, and well-drawn character development as the protagonists navigate life lessons around grief, patience, self-advocacy, and standing up for others. Ro is biracial (Chinese/White); Benji is White.

Charming, poignant, and thoughtfully woven. (Fiction. 9-12)

Pub Date: Jan. 12, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-06-300888-5

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Quill Tree Books/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Oct. 27, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2020

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A deftly told story that dramatizes how Danes appointed themselves bodyguards—not only for their king, who was in the habit...

NUMBER THE STARS

The author of the Anastasia books as well as more serious fiction (Rabble Starkey, 1987) offers her first historical fiction—a story about the escape of the Jews from Denmark in 1943.

Five years younger than Lisa in Carol Matas' Lisa's War (1989), Annemarie Johansen has, at 10, known three years of Nazi occupation. Though ever cautious and fearful of the ubiquitous soldiers, she is largely unaware of the extent of the danger around her; the Resistance kept even its participants safer by telling them as little as possible, and Annemarie has never been told that her older sister Lise died in its service. When the Germans plan to round up the Jews, the Johansens take in Annemarie's friend, Ellen Rosen, and pretend she is their daughter; later, they travel to Uncle Hendrik's house on the coast, where the Rosens and other Jews are transported by fishing boat to Sweden. Apart from Lise's offstage death, there is little violence here; like Annemarie, the reader is protected from the full implications of events—but will be caught up in the suspense and menace of several encounters with soldiers and in Annemarie's courageous run as courier on the night of the escape. The book concludes with the Jews' return, after the war, to homes well kept for them by their neighbors.

A deftly told story that dramatizes how Danes appointed themselves bodyguards—not only for their king, who was in the habit of riding alone in Copenhagen, but for their Jews. (Historical fiction. 9-12)

Pub Date: April 1, 1989

ISBN: 0547577095

Page Count: 156

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin

Review Posted Online: Oct. 17, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 1989

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