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 work of heavy, realistic fiction told with oddball humor, honesty, and heart.

I'M OK

When Korean-American Ok Lee loses his father in a construction accident, he and his mom must fend for themselves financially while quietly grieving.

Middle schooler Ok watches as his mother takes on multiple jobs with long hours trying to make ends meet. Determined to help, he sets his sights on his school’s talent show. The winner takes home $100 in cash, enough to pay the utilities before they get cut off. His search to find a bankable talent is complicated by unwanted attention from bully Asa, who’s African-American, and blackmail at the hands of a strange classmate named Mickey, who’s white. To make matters worse, his mother starts dating Deacon Koh, “the lonely widower” of the First Korean Full Gospel Church, who seems to have dubious motives and “tries too hard.” Narrator Ok navigates this full plot with quirky humor that borders on dark at times. His feelings and actions dealing with his grief are authentic. Most of the characters take a surprising turn, in one way or another helping Ok despite initial, somewhat stereotypical introductions and abundant teasing with racial jokes. Although most of the characters go through a transformation, Ok’s father in comparison is not as fleshed-out, and Asa’s African-American Vernacular English occasionally feels repetitive and forced.

A work of heavy, realistic fiction told with oddball humor, honesty, and heart. (Fiction. 10-12)

Pub Date: Oct. 9, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5344-1929-2

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Atheneum

Review Posted Online: June 25, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2018

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

WISHED

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

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