Beautifully illustrates how sharing old stories can be the best way to learn how to share new ones.


While Tiến is fluent in English, his Vietnamese refugee parents are not, leaving them struggling at times for a shared language.

Tiến’s mom, Hiền, asks him to read aloud the fairy tales he checks out from the library; they both love them, and she can use them to practice English. When Tiến selects “Tattercoats,” his seamstress mother tells him that there is a Vietnamese version that her own mother told her, long ago. As he reads the story of love, longing, and travel across a sea, Hiền is reminded of family she left behind in Vietnam while Tiến tries to navigate his own first love, a boy he is friends with. Le Nguyen’s gorgeous, flowing, detailed illustrations deftly weave Vietnamese and Western fairy-tale worlds together with Hiền’s memory of her past and Tiến’s struggle over coming out. The rich color palette highlights both the layers within each panel as well as serving as a road map for readers by indicating whether the panels are set in the present, the past, or within the fairy tale. This clever use of color smooths the way for the sophisticated embedding of stories within a story that highlights the complex dynamics between first-generation and second-generation family members. Warm, loving family and friends are a refreshing alternative to immigrant stories that focus on family problems.

Beautifully illustrates how sharing old stories can be the best way to learn how to share new ones. (author’s note, notes about the illustrations, bonus artwork) (Fiction. 13-17)

Pub Date: Oct. 13, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-593-12529-8

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Random House Graphic

Review Posted Online: July 27, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2020

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An enjoyable, if predictable, romantic holiday story.


Is an exuberant extended family the cure for a breakup? Sophie is about to find out.

When Sophie unexpectedly breaks up with her boyfriend, she isn’t thrilled about spending the holidays at her grandparents’ house instead of with him. And when her grandmother forms a plan to distract Sophie from her broken heart—10 blind dates, each set up by different family members—she’s even less thrilled. Everyone gets involved with the matchmaking, even forming a betting pool on the success of each date. But will Sophie really find someone to fill the space left by her ex? Will her ex get wind of Sophie’s dating spree via social media and want them to get back together? Is that what she even wants anymore? This is a fun story of finding love, getting to know yourself, and getting to know your family. The pace is quick and light, though the characters are fairly shallow and occasionally feel interchangeable, especially with so many names involved. A Christmas tale, the plot is a fast-paced series of dinners, parties, and games, relayed in both narrative form and via texts, though the humor occasionally feels stiff and overwrought. The ending is satisfying, though largely unsurprising. Most characters default to white as members of Sophie’s Italian American extended family, although one of her cousins has a Filipina mother. One uncle is gay.

An enjoyable, if predictable, romantic holiday story. (Fiction. 13-16)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-368-02749-6

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion

Review Posted Online: June 23, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2019

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Swashbuckling with feminist overtones.


There be pirates on these seas...and they be closer than you think.

Lane Garrow is at home on the sea, enjoying the movement of the ship, climbing about the rigging, and battling with axes. With an established role as cabin’s boy and a father who is ship’s captain, Lane’s only problem is the huge secret that she is a girl. Lane, or Laney, grew up on her father’s ship, the Majesty, but one of the powerful island kings bans women from even stepping aboard a ship. If Laney were found out, she would be killed. Still, that threat doesn’t stifle Laney’s dreams of captaining the ship herself someday. As they are strapped for cash, Laney admits Aden, a new crew member who promises good payment for passage to another island nation. Obviously an inexperienced young man from a wealthy family, Aden learns the ins and outs of shipboard life from Laney—along with some less refined habits. He also sees right through Laney’s disguise, and she finds relief in the novelty of being honest. As their relationship develops, the crew of the Majesty faces stormy seas, threats of mutiny, pursuing pirates, brewing war, and even more revealed secrets. The high-seas setting, budding romance, and big dreams will sweep idealistic readers right into the narrative, although others may be dissatisfied with the lack of solid worldbuilding. Most characters read as White.

Swashbuckling with feminist overtones. (map) (Adventure. 13-17)

Pub Date: Sept. 7, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-316-70575-2

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Jimmy Patterson/Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: July 27, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2021

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