A memorable and lovely debut.

READ REVIEW

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

SUNNY ROLLS THE DICE

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

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Fans of R.J. Palacio's Wonder (2012) will appreciate this feel-good story of friendship and unconventional smarts.

FISH IN A TREE

Hunt draws a portrait of dyslexia and getting along.

Ally Nickerson, who’s passed through seven schools in seven years, maintains a Sketchbook of Impossible Things. A snowman in a furnace factory is more plausible than imagining herself doing something right—like reading. She doesn't know why, but letters dance and give her headaches. Her acting out to disguise her difficulty causes headaches for her teachers, who, oddly, never consider dyslexia, even though each notices signs like inconsistent spellings of the same word. Ally's confusion is poignant when misunderstandings like an unintentional sympathy card for a pregnant teacher make her good intentions backfire, and readers will sympathize as she copes with the class "mean girls." When a creative new teacher, Mr. Daniels, steps in, the plot turns more uplifting but also metaphor-heavy; a coin with a valuable flaw, cupcakes with hidden letters, mystery boxes and references to the Island of Misfit Toys somewhat belabor the messages that things aren't always what they seem and everyone is smart in their own ways. Despite emphasis on "thinking outside the box," characters are occasionally stereotypical—a snob, a brainiac, an unorthodox teacher—but Ally's new friendships are satisfying, as are the recognition of her dyslexia and her renewed determination to read.

Fans of R.J. Palacio's Wonder (2012) will appreciate this feel-good story of friendship and unconventional smarts. (Fiction. 10-12)

Pub Date: Feb. 5, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-399-16259-6

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Nancy Paulsen Books

Review Posted Online: Nov. 18, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2014

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