A fitting, socially conscious sequel.

ALI CROSS

LIKE FATHER, LIKE SON

From the Ali Cross series , Vol. 2

Ali Cross sets out to solve another case that hits close to home.

Ali, son of Washington, D.C., detective Alex Cross, returns in a sequel to his 2019 outing that finds him in the thick of things when his crush, Zoe Knight, gets shot in a park. Middle schooler Ali is the closest thing there is to an eyewitness, though he didn’t even see the shooter’s face. Zoe knows who did it but strangely is keeping quiet. Still, Ali’s knack for investigation and his connection to Zoe propel him to pursue the case with the help of friends. Themes of activism, gun violence, and police bias are explored, with various complex sides to the issues being shared by different characters. Ali’s schoolmates become frustrated with the impact of gun violence on Black people and start demanding more accountability from the authorities. Meanwhile, Ali, the son of a homicide detective, finds himself in the middle of arguments about these topics while at times feeling his opinions are dismissed due to his father’s profession. Overall, this is a solid follow-up that shows Ali developing as a sleuth even as he’s a young boy trying to make sense of his world. Important messages regarding social justice are imparted, although the pacing sometimes feels rushed, taking away from the gravitas of certain moments. Overall, however, readers who enjoy stories of young detectives will be pleased. Ali and Zoe are Black.

A fitting, socially conscious sequel. (Mystery. 10-14)

Pub Date: June 28, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-316-50013-5

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Jimmy Patterson/Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: June 1, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2021

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An endearing protagonist runs the first, fast leg of Reynolds' promising relay.

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GHOST

From the Track series , Vol. 1

Castle “Ghost” Cranshaw feels like he’s been running ever since his dad pulled that gun on him and his mom—and used it.

His dad’s been in jail three years now, but Ghost still feels the trauma, which is probably at the root of the many “altercations” he gets into at middle school. When he inserts himself into a practice for a local elite track team, the Defenders, he’s fast enough that the hard-as-nails coach decides to put him on the team. Ghost is surprised to find himself caring enough about being on the team that he curbs his behavior to avoid “altercations.” But Ma doesn’t have money to spare on things like fancy running shoes, so Ghost shoplifts a pair that make his feet feel impossibly light—and his conscience correspondingly heavy. Ghost’s narration is candid and colloquial, reminiscent of such original voices as Bud Caldwell and Joey Pigza; his level of self-understanding is both believably childlike and disarming in its perception. He is self-focused enough that secondary characters initially feel one-dimensional, Coach in particular, but as he gets to know them better, so do readers, in a way that unfolds naturally and pleasingly. His three fellow “newbies” on the Defenders await their turns to star in subsequent series outings. Characters are black by default; those few white people in Ghost’s world are described as such.

An endearing protagonist runs the first, fast leg of Reynolds' promising relay. (Fiction. 10-14)

Pub Date: Aug. 30, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-4814-5015-7

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Caitlyn Dlouhy/Atheneum

Review Posted Online: July 20, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2016

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DRAMA

From award winner Telgemeier (Smile, 2010), a pitch-perfect graphic novel portrayal of a middle school musical, adroitly capturing the drama both on and offstage.

Seventh-grader Callie Marin is over-the-moon to be on stage crew again this year for Eucalyptus Middle School’s production of Moon over Mississippi. Callie's just getting over popular baseball jock and eighth-grader Greg, who crushed her when he left Callie to return to his girlfriend, Bonnie, the stuck-up star of the play. Callie's healing heart is quickly captured by Justin and Jesse Mendocino, the two very cute twins who are working on the play with her. Equally determined to make the best sets possible with a shoestring budget and to get one of the Mendocino boys to notice her, the immensely likable Callie will find this to be an extremely drama-filled experience indeed. The palpably engaging and whip-smart characterization ensures that the charisma and camaraderie run high among those working on the production. When Greg snubs Callie in the halls and misses her reference to Guys and Dolls, one of her friends assuredly tells her, "Don't worry, Cal. We’re the cool kids….He's the dork." With the clear, stylish art, the strongly appealing characters and just the right pinch of drama, this book will undoubtedly make readers stand up and cheer.

Brava!  (Graphic fiction. 10-14)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-545-32698-8

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Graphix/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: July 22, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2012

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