An insightful, stirring read about healing and resilience.

THE SEA IN WINTER

A Native American (Makah/Piscataway) girl learns about her inner strength.

Maisie Cannon’s knee injury has disrupted her happy life in Seattle and kept her from doing what she loves most: ballet. Now, instead of practicing arabesques with friends, Maisie’s after-school activities have been taken over by physical therapy and awkward conversations with her parents about struggles at school. Ever since her injury, Maisie has been unmotivated and restless in class. During a family trip to the Olympic Peninsula, Maisie’s stepfather, Jack (Lower Elwha Klallam), shares a bit of history about contact between the Duwamish people and early colonizers. When Maisie tells him she doesn’t know what he’s talking about, he asks, “What the heck kind of history are they teaching you in school, then?” She replies, “The Treaty of Paris.” It’s the same in her other classes; none of what she’s learning seems relevant to her. Her grades have dipped, her relationships with her friends feel strained, and she’s gotten snippy with her parents. She feels bad about her behavior, but all she can think of is resuming dance classes. This meditative story about a middle school girl’s courageous journey toward healing follows a family as they navigate the complexities of supporting a tween’s life-changing injury. In her second novel, Day offers a heartening glimpse into the immense patience and love required to endure limitations, build strength, and repair damage.

An insightful, stirring read about healing and resilience. (author's note, publisher's note) (Fiction. 9-13)

Pub Date: Jan. 5, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-06-287204-3

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Heartdrum

Review Posted Online: Oct. 22, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2020

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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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Falters in its oversimplified portrayal of a complicated region and people.

GROUND ZERO

Parallel storylines take readers through the lives of two young people on Sept. 11 in 2001 and 2019.

In the contemporary timeline, Reshmina is an Afghan girl living in foothills near the Pakistan border that are a battleground between the Taliban and U.S. armed forces. She is keen to improve her English while her twin brother, Pasoon, is inspired by the Taliban and wants to avenge their older sister, killed by an American bomb on her wedding day. Reshmina helps a wounded American soldier, making her village a Taliban target. In 2001, Brandon Chavez is spending the day with his father, who works at the World Trade Center’s Windows on the World restaurant. Brandon is heading to the underground mall when a plane piloted by al-Qaida hits the tower, and his father is among those killed. The two storylines develop in parallel through alternating chapters. Gratz’s deeply moving writing paints vivid images of the loss and fear of those who lived through the trauma of 9/11. However, this nuance doesn’t extend to the Afghan characters; Reshmina and Pasoon feel one-dimensional. Descriptions of the Taliban’s Afghan victims and Reshmina's gentle father notwithstanding, references to all young men eventually joining the Taliban and Pasoon's zeal for their cause counteract this messaging. Explanations for the U.S. military invasion of Afghanistan in the author’s note and in characters’ conversations too simplistically present the U.S. presence.

Falters in its oversimplified portrayal of a complicated region and people. (author’s note) (Fiction. 9-12)

Pub Date: Feb. 2, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-338-24575-2

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Dec. 15, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2021

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