A rich and deeply felt slice of life.

Crafting fantasy worlds offers a budding middle school author relief and distraction from the real one in this graphic memoir debut.

Everyone in Tori’s life shows realistic mixes of vulnerability and self-knowledge while, equally realistically, seeming to be making it up as they go. At least, as she shuttles between angrily divorced parents—dad becoming steadily harder to reach, overstressed mom spectacularly incapable of reading her offspring—or drifts through one wearingly dull class after another, she has both vivacious bestie Taylor Lee and, promisingly, new classmate Nick as well as the (all-girl) heroic fantasy, complete with portals, crystal amulets, and evil enchantments, taking shape in her mind and on paper. The flow of school projects, sleepovers, heart-to-heart conversations with Taylor, and like incidents (including a scene involving Tori’s older brother, who is having a rough adolescence, that could be seen as domestic violence) turns to a tide of change as eighth grade winds down and brings unwelcome revelations about friends. At least the story remains as solace and, at the close, a sense that there are still chapters to come in both worlds. Working in a simple, expressive cartoon style reminiscent of Raina Telgemeier’s, Sharp captures facial and body language with easy naturalism. Most people in the spacious, tidily arranged panels are White; Taylor appears East Asian, and there is diversity in background characters.

A rich and deeply felt slice of life. (afterword, design notes) (Graphic memoir. 10-13)

Pub Date: May 18, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-316-53889-3

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: March 30, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2021



Readers who want to know when their jet packs and food tablets will be coming will find no answers in this mishmash of...

A Belgian import attempts prognostication.

Schutten opens and closes with the dead-cinch prediction that readers in 2030 will laugh at his views on where household tech, sustainable land and water use, medicine and robotics are heading in the near future. In between, he delivers debatable prophecies that microwave ovens will be superseded by unspecified new devices, that computer games will replace most toys and like airy claims. These are embedded in equally superficial surveys of the pros and cons of fossil and alternative energy sources, as well as cautionary looks at environmentally damaging agricultural and lifestyle practices that are in at least the early stages of being addressed. Conversely, he is blindly optimistic about the wonders of “superfoods,” carrying surveillance chips in our bodies and supersmart robots managing our lives. Uncaptioned photos and graphics add lots of color but little content. A closing section of provocative questions, plus endnotes citing news stories, blog posts and other sources of more detailed information, may give would-be futurologists some reward for slogging their ways through.

Readers who want to know when their jet packs and food tablets will be coming will find no answers in this mishmash of eco-sermons and vague allusions to cutting-edge technology. (index) (Nonfiction. 10-12)

Pub Date: Oct. 7, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-58270-474-6

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Beyond Words/Aladdin

Review Posted Online: Aug. 26, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2014



This will appeal to fans of Alexander’s previous middle-grade novels as well as young sports fans.

Building on the great success of his Newbery-winning The Crossover (2014), Alexander provides advice and life lessons to young readers, drawn mostly from the world of sports and organized by a schema of “rules.”

Instead of chapters, the work begins with a preface called “Warm-up: The Rules” and is then divided into the four quarters of a game, each having a theme: “grit,” “motivation,” “focus,” and “teamwork and resilience.” “Passion” is included as a half-time consideration, and there is an “overtime” look at Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. There are brief profiles of athletes Wilma Rudolph, LeBron James, Pelé, and Venus and Serena Williams, along with maxims and personal anecdotes from both male and female sports figures who’ve excelled in different arenas as well as a few nonathletes, including Maya Angelou, Nikki Giovanni, Sonya Sotomayor, and Nelson Mandela. Throughout there is poetry, verses that remind us why Alexander connects with readers. “Rule #45 / A loss is inevitable / like rain in spring. / True champions / learn / to dance / through / the storm.” The advice never feels heavy-handed, and the author's voice shines through. The design is as much a part of the book as its lively text, set in varying font sizes and colors (black, white, or orange), differing layouts, and judicious use of photographs and illustrations.

This will appeal to fans of Alexander’s previous middle-grade novels as well as young sports fans. (Nonfiction. 10-12)

Pub Date: Feb. 14, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-544-57097-9

Page Count: 176

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: Dec. 13, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2017

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