An imagined adventure turned nightmarishly real leads to exciting, life-changing results.

SPY RUNNER

It’s 1953, and Jake just knows that the new boarder is a Communist spy.

The 12-year-old fan of Commie-fighting comics hero Spy Runner has no trouble finding plausible evidence, either, from the unkempt stranger’s comment that his parents were Russian to mysterious phone calls in the night and a scary interview with a pair of heavies who claim to be FBI agents. But suspicion proves (then, as now) contagious, and suddenly Jake’s own best friend is shunning him, he’s ostracized at school, and a black car is following him around Tucson. On top of all that comes the emotionally shattering discovery that his mom, solitary since his dad was declared MIA in World War II, has let the stranger into her room. At this point, having set readers up for a salutary but hardly unique tale about prejudice, misplaced suspicion, and the McCarthy era, Yelchin briskly proceeds to pull the rug out from under them by pitching his confused, impulsive protagonist into an escalating whirl of chases, crashes, threats, assaults, abductions, blazing gunplay, spies, and counterspies—along with revelations that hardly anyone, even Jake’s mom, is what they seem. The author includes a number of his own blurred, processed, black-and-white photos that effectively underscore both the time’s fearful climate and the vertiginous quality of Jake’s experience. The book assumes a white default.

An imagined adventure turned nightmarishly real leads to exciting, life-changing results. (Historical adventure. 10-13)

Pub Date: Feb. 12, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-250-12081-6

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Godwin Books/Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2019

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

Problem-solving through perseverance and friendship is the real win in this deeply smart and inspiring story.

SWIM TEAM

Leaving Brooklyn behind, Black math-whiz and puzzle lover Bree starts a new life in Florida, where she’ll be tossed into the deep end in more ways than one. Keeping her head above water may be the trickiest puzzle yet.

While her dad is busy working and training in IT, Bree struggles at first to settle into Enith Brigitha Middle School, largely due to the school’s preoccupation with swimming—from the accomplishments of its namesake, a Black Olympian from Curaçao, to its near victory at the state swimming championships. But Bree can’t swim. To illustrate her anxiety around this fact, the graphic novel’s bright colors give way to gray thought bubbles with thick, darkened outlines expressing Bree’s deepest fears and doubts. This poignant visual crowds some panels just as anxious feelings can crowd the thoughts of otherwise star students like Bree. Ultimately, learning to swim turns out to be easy enough with the help of a kind older neighbor—a Black woman with a competitive swimming past of her own as well as a rich and bittersweet understanding of Black Americans’ relationship with swimming—who explains to Bree how racist obstacles of the past can become collective anxiety in the present. To her surprise, Bree, with her newfound water skills, eventually finds herself on the school’s swim team, navigating competition, her anxiety, and new, meaningful relationships.

Problem-solving through perseverance and friendship is the real win in this deeply smart and inspiring story. (Graphic fiction. 10-13)

Pub Date: May 17, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-06-305677-0

Page Count: 256

Publisher: HarperAlley

Review Posted Online: March 2, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2022

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

Generous portions of yum for fans of mysteries and mille-feuille.

ALICE FLECK'S RECIPES FOR DISASTER

Mix one shy tween, one unwelcome new woman in her single dad’s life, one Victorian hotel, and one TV cook-off prone to mysterious failures. Shake and bake.

Ever since the fifth grade calf’s foot jelly incident, Alice has kept her love for cookery on the down low—but all bets are off after she learns that Hana, her food historian dad’s girlfriend, has signed him up for a weeklong reality cooking competition ominously christened Culinary Combat. Events conspire to keep Alice on the hop too, as the challenge of facing the show’s caustic, terrifying judge while preparing dishes like Victoria sponge cake and charlotte russe on camera—at first as her dad’s sous-chef, then alone after he’s eliminated for alleged misbehavior—is complicated by a string of malfunctioning appliances and other odd kitchen mishaps…not to mention her own tangled feelings about Hana, who introduces her to the intriguing world of Japanese desserts and is actually pretty cool in other ways. Spooning new friends with surprising talents, savvy detective work (it turns out the show does have a saboteur), and mouthwatering foodie talk (if no actual recipes) into this culinary caper, Delaney dishes up a savory tale that tests her young cuisinier—in the face of change as much as in the kitchen—on the way to a flying finish. Alice and her dad present White; Hana has some Japanese ancestry; and there is diversity in the supporting cast.

Generous portions of yum for fans of mysteries and mille-feuille. (Mystery. 10-13)

Pub Date: May 11, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-7352-6927-9

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Puffin/Penguin Random House Canada

Review Posted Online: Feb. 26, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2021

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet
more