Another literary pacesetter that will leave Reynolds’ readers wanting more.

SUNNY

From the Track series , Vol. 3

Sunny Lancaster is a home-schooled almost-13-year-old torn between duty to run and passion for dance in the latest compulsively readable installment of Reynolds’ lauded Track series.

On the surface, African-American Sunny appears to have a wealthy, comfortable life that his less-fortunate teammates on the Defenders cannot help but envy. Privilege, however, cannot hide pain, and Sunny feels smothered by guilt over his mother’s death immediately after his birth and crushed beneath the weight of his father’s expectations for him to become the marathon runner that his beloved mother no longer can be. Once again, Reynolds cements his reputation as a distinguished chronicler of the adolescent condition by presenting readers with a winsome-yet-complex character whose voice feels as fresh as it is distinctive, spontaneously breaking out into onomatopoeic riffs that underscore his sense of music and rhythm. Living in an empty house with colorless walls and unfulfilled familial expectations cannot dim the effervescent nature of a protagonist who names his diary to make it feel more personal, employs charts and graphs to help him find the bravery to forge his own path as a discus-throwing dancer, and finds artistic inspiration in the musical West Side Story. Defenders introduced in earlier novels receive scant treatment, but new characters, such as Sunny’s blue-haired teacher/dance instructor, Aurelia, are vibrant and three-dimensional. Main characters’ races are not explicitly mentioned, implying a black default.

Another literary pacesetter that will leave Reynolds’ readers wanting more. (Fiction. 10-14)

Pub Date: April 10, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-4814-5021-8

Page Count: 176

Publisher: Caitlyn Dlouhy/Atheneum

Review Posted Online: April 7, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2018

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An intense referendum on football’s dangers and glories.

FINAL SEASON

A star 12-year-old quarterback has a championship to win, a developing family tragedy to cope with, and a life-changing decision to make.

Barely disguising the autobiographical elements contained here in the wake of his own diagnosis of ALS, former Atlanta Falcons player Green places his protagonist, Ben Redd, in a football family and on an upstate New York team coached by his dad and two older brothers—all former gridiron stars themselves. Ben’s anticipation as he looks forward to a season that will be capped by a game against archrival Penn Yan battles with his terror as he watches his father’s NFL injuries come home to roost in slurred speech, loss of physical coordination, and, eventually, a frantic trip to the hospital for an emergency tracheotomy. But as Ben’s parents, both iron willed, clash over whether he should be allowed to follow the family career path (and one of his brothers even announces that none of his kids will ever play), the sport’s allure comes through in a series of exciting clashes, with Ben and wonderfully hard-nosed new teammate, Thea Jean, leading the on-field heroics on the way to a last-yard, smash-mouth finale that leaves him dazed and exultant, with a broken finger, a probable concussion…and a choice of futures. Though the cast is mostly male and mostly White, between them, Thea and Ben’s mom add strong female representation.

An intense referendum on football’s dangers and glories. (Fiction. 10-13)

Pub Date: Sept. 14, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-06-248595-3

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: July 27, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2021

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Poignant, respectful, and historically accurate while pulsating with emotional turmoil, adventure, and suspense.

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  • Kirkus Reviews'
    Best Books Of 2017

  • New York Times Bestseller

  • Sydney Taylor Book Award Winner

REFUGEE

In the midst of political turmoil, how do you escape the only country that you’ve ever known and navigate a new life? Parallel stories of three different middle school–aged refugees—Josef from Nazi Germany in 1938, Isabel from 1994 Cuba, and Mahmoud from 2015 Aleppo—eventually intertwine for maximum impact.

Three countries, three time periods, three brave protagonists. Yet these three refugee odysseys have so much in common. Each traverses a landscape ruled by a dictator and must balance freedom, family, and responsibility. Each initially leaves by boat, struggles between visibility and invisibility, copes with repeated obstacles and heart-wrenching loss, and gains resilience in the process. Each third-person narrative offers an accessible look at migration under duress, in which the behavior of familiar adults changes unpredictably, strangers exploit the vulnerabilities of transients, and circumstances seem driven by random luck. Mahmoud eventually concludes that visibility is best: “See us….Hear us. Help us.” With this book, Gratz accomplishes a feat that is nothing short of brilliant, offering a skillfully wrought narrative laced with global and intergenerational reverberations that signal hope for the future. Excellent for older middle grade and above in classrooms, book groups, and/or communities looking to increase empathy for new and existing arrivals from afar.

Poignant, respectful, and historically accurate while pulsating with emotional turmoil, adventure, and suspense. (maps, author’s note) (Historical fiction. 10-14)

Pub Date: July 25, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-545-88083-1

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: May 10, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2017

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