An insightful exploration of a girl’s inner tickings.

EVERYWHERE BLUE

The musical and natural worlds help a tween understand her family and her personal dynamics.

Twelve-year-old Madrigal begins her story in November in a diminuendo mood. Maddie is studying the oboe, the instrument that voices the Duck in Peter and the Wolf, and she is dedicated to improving her technique so she can perform the solo in her school’s winter concert. Her world changes when her older brother, Strum, a college student deeply concerned about the environment, disappears. Maddie compulsively counts objects and believes that even numbers are the best. She is a gifted math student who appreciates order and regularity, eating the same precisely prepared sandwich for lunch every day. January is a month of staccato as Maddie thinks of herself as a fraction, divided from the brother who makes her whole; reflecting his favorite color, she plays Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue. She regards February as a month of crescendo when, as a member of the environmental club at school, she visits a blue morpho butterfly exhibit that gives her an idea as to where Strum has gone. The combination of free verse and first-person narrative convey Maddie’s thoughts as she learns to appreciate that both music and family follow strong emotional currents, not just the precision of a metronome. The family defaults to White.

An insightful exploration of a girl’s inner tickings. (Verse novel. 10-12)

Pub Date: June 1, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-8234-4862-3

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Holiday House

Review Posted Online: March 31, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2021

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A beautifully rendered setting enfolds a disappointing plot.

A GALAXY OF SEA STARS

In sixth grade, Izzy Mancini’s cozy, loving world falls apart.

She and her family have moved out of the cottage she grew up in. Her mother has spent the summer on Block Island instead of at home with Izzy. Her father has recently returned from military service in Afghanistan partially paralyzed and traumatized. The only people she can count on are Zelda and Piper, her best friends since kindergarten—that is, until the Haidary family moves into the upstairs apartment. At first, Izzy resents the new guests from Afghanistan even though she knows she should be grateful that Dr. Haidary saved her father’s life. But despite her initial resistance (which manifests at times as racism), as Izzy gets to know Sitara, the Haidarys’ daughter, she starts to question whether Zelda and Piper really are her friends for forever—and whether she has the courage to stand up for Sitara against the people she loves. Ferruolo weaves a rich setting, fully immersing readers in the largely white, coastal town of Seabury, Rhode Island. Disappointingly, the story resolves when Izzy convinces her classmates to accept Sitara by revealing the Haidarys’ past as American allies, a position that put them in so much danger that they had to leave home. The idea that Sitara should be embraced only because her family supported America, rather than simply because she is a human being, significantly undermines the purported message of tolerance for all.

A beautifully rendered setting enfolds a disappointing plot. (Fiction. 10-12)

Pub Date: Feb. 4, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-374-30909-1

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: Nov. 24, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2019

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An eminently satisfying story of family, recovery, and growing into manhood.

REBOUND

In this prequel to Newbery Award–winning The Crossover (2014), Alexander revisits previous themes and formats while exploring new ones.

For Charlie Bell, the future father of The Crossover’s Jordan and Josh, his father’s death alters his relationship with his mother and causes him to avoid what reminds him of his dad. At first, he’s just withdrawn, but after he steals from a neighbor, his mother packs a reluctant Charlie off to his grandparents near Washington, D.C., for the summer. His grandfather works part-time at a Boys and Girls Club where his cousin Roxie is a star basketball player. Despite his protests, she draws him into the game. His time with his grandparents deepens Charlie’s understanding of his father, and he begins to heal. “I feel / a little more normal, / like maybe he’s still here, / … in a / as long as I remember him / he’s still right here / in my heart / kind of way.” Once again, Alexander has given readers an African-American protagonist to cheer. He is surrounded by a strong supporting cast, especially two brilliant female characters, his friend CJ and his cousin Roxie, as well as his feisty and wise granddaddy. Music and cultural references from the late 1980s add authenticity. The novel in verse is enhanced by Anyabwile’s art, which reinforces Charlie’s love for comics.

An eminently satisfying story of family, recovery, and growing into manhood. (Historical verse fiction. 10-12)

Pub Date: April 2, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-544-86813-7

Page Count: 416

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: March 4, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2018

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