An achingly realistic, yet hopeful, depiction of divorce

THE BOY WITH THE BUTTERFLY MIND

Two British preteens grapple with their parents’ divorces—and sharing a home.

In Scotland, 11-year-old Elin lives with her divorced mother and her mother’s boyfriend, Paul. She believes that if she can be her father’s “Perfect Princess,” he’ll be persuaded to return. In England, Jamie, also 11, lives with his divorced mother and her boyfriend, Chris, whom he does not get along with. Due to ADHD, he’s impulsive, forgetful, and never perfect. Instead of relocating to the U.S. with his mom and Chris and at his mother's urging, Jamie moves in with his dad. After establishing each protagonist’s background through alternating first-person chapters, Williamson reveals that Jamie’s father is Paul. As Elin and Jamie adjust to living and going to school together, their initial spats turn to all-out war. The harder Elin schemes to break up the family, the harder Jamie tries to keep the peace, driving the plot. Parental arguments, financial strain, and other dynamics add to the tension, and a butterfly motif unites the story. When the kids finally realize the pain they share, they join forces to become a blended family in an encouraging ending. Although Elin and Jamie are vastly different, the author deftly shows the trauma of divorce on children. Most characters are assumed white; Paul is ethnically Chinese, and Jamie is implied biracial (Chinese/white).

An achingly realistic, yet hopeful, depiction of divorce . (Fiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: Nov. 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-78250-600-3

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Kelpies

Review Posted Online: Aug. 18, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2019

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Readers can still rely on this series to bring laughs.

WRECKING BALL

From the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series , Vol. 14

The Heffley family’s house undergoes a disastrous attempt at home improvement.

When Great Aunt Reba dies, she leaves some money to the family. Greg’s mom calls a family meeting to determine what to do with their share, proposing home improvements and then overruling the family’s cartoonish wish lists and instead pushing for an addition to the kitchen. Before bringing in the construction crew, the Heffleys attempt to do minor maintenance and repairs themselves—during which Greg fails at the work in various slapstick scenes. Once the professionals are brought in, the problems keep getting worse: angry neighbors, terrifying problems in walls, and—most serious—civil permitting issues that put the kibosh on what work’s been done. Left with only enough inheritance to patch and repair the exterior of the house—and with the school’s dismal standardized test scores as a final straw—Greg’s mom steers the family toward moving, opening up house-hunting and house-selling storylines (and devastating loyal Rowley, who doesn’t want to lose his best friend). While Greg’s positive about the move, he’s not completely uncaring about Rowley’s action. (And of course, Greg himself is not as unaffected as he wishes.) The gags include effectively placed callbacks to seemingly incidental events (the “stress lizard” brought in on testing day is particularly funny) and a lampoon of after-school-special–style problem books. Just when it seems that the Heffleys really will move, a new sequence of chaotic trouble and property destruction heralds a return to the status quo. Whew.

Readers can still rely on this series to bring laughs. (Graphic/fiction hybrid. 8-12)

Pub Date: Nov. 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4197-3903-3

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Amulet/Abrams

Review Posted Online: Nov. 19, 2019

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With young readers diagnosed with anxiety in ever increasing numbers, this book offers a necessary mirror to many.

GUTS

Young Raina is 9 when she throws up for the first time that she remembers, due to a stomach bug. Even a year later, when she is in fifth grade, she fears getting sick.

Raina begins having regular stomachaches that keep her home from school. She worries about sharing food with her friends and eating certain kinds of foods, afraid of getting sick or food poisoning. Raina’s mother enrolls her in therapy. At first Raina isn’t sure about seeing a therapist, but over time she develops healthy coping mechanisms to deal with her stress and anxiety. Her therapist helps her learn to ground herself and relax, and in turn she teaches her classmates for a school project. Amping up the green, wavy lines to evoke Raina’s nausea, Telgemeier brilliantly produces extremely accurate visual representations of stress and anxiety. Thought bubbles surround Raina in some panels, crowding her with anxious “what if”s, while in others her negative self-talk appears to be literally crushing her. Even as she copes with anxiety disorder and what is eventually diagnosed as mild irritable bowel syndrome, she experiences the typical stresses of school life, going from cheer to panic in the blink of an eye. Raina is white, and her classmates are diverse; one best friend is Korean American.

With young readers diagnosed with anxiety in ever increasing numbers, this book offers a necessary mirror to many. (Graphic memoir. 8-12)

Pub Date: Sept. 17, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-545-85251-7

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Graphix/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: May 12, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2019

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