THE MAGIC FISH

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 26, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2020

10 BLIND DATES

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 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2019

FINDING JUPITER

An emotional debut that celebrates the joy that comes from healing.

Two teens’ summer romance gets complicated by a long-kept family secret.

Jupiter Moon Ray Evans’ parents were in a car accident the day she was born—her father died, and her mom suddenly became both a widow and a mother. Ray is named after the dad she never knew, and his absence is a tangible part of her family. She hates that her birthday can never just be about her, but this year her best friend from boarding school is coming to Memphis, and they are celebrating at the roller rink, the one place Ray can get lost in her own world. While skating she meets Orion, and for both of them, it is love at first sight. Orion is also missing a piece of his family: Almost 10 years ago his little sister was hit and killed by a bus, and his happy family was destroyed. Orion finds a feeling of peace in swimming, which helps with his sensory processing disorder as well as providing an escape from his dad’s grief. Although the two Black teens will be in different states in the fall, they tentatively pursue a relationship. However, when a family secret that links them is revealed, they must decide if they can ever be anything to one another. Through a blend of prose and found poetry, this quiet novel thoughtfully explores the impact of absence on love.

An emotional debut that celebrates the joy that comes from healing. (Fiction. 13-17)

Pub Date: May 31, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-593-42925-9

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: March 1, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2022

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