A memorable and lovely debut.

WALKING WITH MISS MILLIE

The summer of 1968 brings huge changes to the lives of a young white girl and an elderly black woman—and cements a beautiful friendship.

Having relocated from Columbus, Ohio, to Rainbow, Georgia, with her mom and deaf younger brother, Alice, almost 11, hopes against hope the move isn’t permanent and is determined not to feel at home or make friends. The white family’s arrived at Grandma’s because her increasing mental confusion has become worrisome. When Alice inadvertently overhears the “colored” next-door neighbor, Miss Millie, on the telephone party line, Mama orders Alice to apologize and offer help to the 92-year-old. Alice is tasked with walking Miss Millie’s nearly blind dog—who won’t budge unless accompanied by his owner. Thus old and young woman make daily treks. Over time, Alice learns painful truths about the tragic family losses Millie suffered because of racism and segregation—and is given treasured mementos from Millie’s past. For her part, Millie recognizes Alice’s aching sense of loss over her father’s abandonment of the family. Alice’s first-person narration sounds just right as she describes her relationships with family and townsfolk—and, especially, her eye-opening, heartwarming, and humorous encounters with the wonderful Miss Millie, who has come to cherish her young friend. The very poignant yet uplifting ending definitely merits a hanky, but readers will agree that walking with these excellently portrayed main characters was well worth the journey.

A memorable and lovely debut. (Historical fiction. 10-12)

Pub Date: July 4, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-39-954456-9

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Nancy Paulsen Books

Review Posted Online: April 17, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2017

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A solid debut: fluent, funny and eminently sequel-worthy.

ALMOST SUPER

Inventively tweaking a popular premise, Jensen pits two Incredibles-style families with superpowers against each other—until a new challenge rises to unite them.

The Johnsons invariably spit at the mere mention of their hated rivals, the Baileys. Likewise, all Baileys habitually shake their fists when referring to the Johnsons. Having long looked forward to getting a superpower so that he too can battle his clan’s nemeses, Rafter Bailey is devastated when, instead of being able to fly or something else cool, he acquires the “power” to strike a match on soft polyester. But when hated classmate Juanita Johnson turns up newly endowed with a similarly bogus power and, against all family tradition, they compare notes, it becomes clear that something fishy is going on. Both families regard themselves as the heroes and their rivals as the villains. Someone has been inciting them to fight each other. Worse yet, that someone has apparently developed a device that turns real superpowers into silly ones. Teaching themselves on the fly how to get past their prejudice and work together, Rafter, his little brother, Benny, and Juanita follow a well-laid-out chain of clues and deductions to the climactic discovery of a third, genuinely nefarious family, the Joneses, and a fiendishly clever scheme to dispose of all the Baileys and Johnsons at once. Can they carry the day?

A solid debut: fluent, funny and eminently sequel-worthy. (Adventure. 10-12)

Pub Date: Jan. 21, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-06-220961-0

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Nov. 2, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2013

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An eminently satisfying story of family, recovery, and growing into manhood.

REBOUND

In this prequel to Newbery Award–winning The Crossover (2014), Alexander revisits previous themes and formats while exploring new ones.

For Charlie Bell, the future father of The Crossover’s Jordan and Josh, his father’s death alters his relationship with his mother and causes him to avoid what reminds him of his dad. At first, he’s just withdrawn, but after he steals from a neighbor, his mother packs a reluctant Charlie off to his grandparents near Washington, D.C., for the summer. His grandfather works part-time at a Boys and Girls Club where his cousin Roxie is a star basketball player. Despite his protests, she draws him into the game. His time with his grandparents deepens Charlie’s understanding of his father, and he begins to heal. “I feel / a little more normal, / like maybe he’s still here, / … in a / as long as I remember him / he’s still right here / in my heart / kind of way.” Once again, Alexander has given readers an African-American protagonist to cheer. He is surrounded by a strong supporting cast, especially two brilliant female characters, his friend CJ and his cousin Roxie, as well as his feisty and wise granddaddy. Music and cultural references from the late 1980s add authenticity. The novel in verse is enhanced by Anyabwile’s art, which reinforces Charlie’s love for comics.

An eminently satisfying story of family, recovery, and growing into manhood. (Historical verse fiction. 10-12)

Pub Date: April 2, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-544-86813-7

Page Count: 416

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: March 4, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2018

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