This lighthearted charmer will leave readers enchantées.

SECRET DIARY

From the Lou! series , Vol. 1

A beguiling import introduces the irresistibly plucky 12-year-old Lou, a French cousin to Jimmy Gownley’s Amelia McBride.

Lou lives in urban France with her mother, a bespectacled writer who spends her time procrastinating and obsessively playing video games rather than working on her science-fiction space epic. Like many preteens, Lou spends much of her time thinking about clothes, boys and friends and whether she may be too old to play with dolls. Lou utterly adores her neighbor Tristan, and her mother nurtures a similar crush of her own on another neighbor, Richard. What saves Lou from complete tweenage vapidity is a well-timed sense of dry humor with a dash of non-irritating precociousness. Lou’s mother can be tempestuous as an adolescent herself, leaving Lou to act as her anchor, tempering her whims and acting as a voice of reason. This humor is heightened by visits with Memaw, Lou's maternal grandmother, who harbors penchants for both brussels sprouts and conflict. A pleasing palette ranging from vibrant brights to muted earth tones fills neat, orderly panels, creating a cohesive and tidy layout; only at the beginning and end of the volume do readers actually see Lou’s diary, a collage of her thoughts and information about other characters. This publishes simultaneously with volume two, Summertime Blues.

This lighthearted charmer will leave readers enchantées. (Graphic fiction. 9-12)

Pub Date: April 1, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-7613-8868-5

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Graphic Universe

Review Posted Online: Feb. 22, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2012

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NIGHTBIRD

There’s a monster in Sidwell, Massachusetts, that can only be seen at night or, as Twig reveals, if passersby are near her house.

It’s her older brother, James, born with wings just like every male in the Fowler line for the last 200 years. They were cursed by the Witch of Sidwell, left brokenhearted by their forebear Lowell Fowler. Twig and James are tired of the secret and self-imposed isolation. Lonely Twig narrates, bringing the small town and its characters to life, intertwining events present and past, and describing the effects of the spell on her fractured family’s daily life. Longing for some normalcy and companionship, she befriends new-neighbor Julia while James falls in love with Julia’s sister, Agate—only to learn they are descendants of the Witch. James and Agate seem as star-crossed as their ancestors, especially when the townspeople attribute a spate of petty thefts and graffiti protesting the development of the woods to the monster and launch a hunt. The mix of romance and magic is irresistible and the tension, compelling. With the help of friends and through a series of self-realizations and discoveries, Twig grows more self-assured. She is certain she knows how to change the curse. In so doing, Twig not only changes James’ fate, but her own, for the first time feeling the fullness of family, friends and hope for the future.

Enchanting. (Magical realism. 9-12)

Pub Date: March 10, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-385-38958-7

Page Count: 208

Publisher: Wendy Lamb/Random

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2015

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Entrancing and uplifting.

STAY

A small dog, the elderly woman who owns him, and a homeless girl come together to create a tale of serendipity.

Piper, almost 12, her parents, and her younger brother are at the bottom of a long slide toward homelessness. Finally in a family shelter, Piper finds that her newfound safety gives her the opportunity to reach out to someone who needs help even more. Jewel, mentally ill, lives in the park with her dog, Baby. Unwilling to leave her pet, and forbidden to enter the shelter with him, she struggles with the winter weather. Ree, also homeless and with a large dog, helps when she can, but after Jewel gets sick and is hospitalized, Baby’s taken to the animal shelter, and Ree can’t manage the complex issues alone. It’s Piper, using her best investigative skills, who figures out Jewel’s backstory. Still, she needs all the help of the shelter Firefly Girls troop that she joins to achieve her accomplishment: to raise enough money to provide Jewel and Baby with a secure, hopeful future and, maybe, with their kindness, to inspire a happier story for Ree. Told in the authentic alternating voices of loving child and loyal dog, this tale could easily slump into a syrupy melodrama, but Pyron lets her well-drawn characters earn their believable happy ending, step by challenging step, by reaching out and working together. Piper, her family, and Jewel present white; Pyron uses hair and naming convention, respectively, to cue Ree as black and Piper’s friend Gabriela as Latinx.

Entrancing and uplifting. (Fiction. 9-12)

Pub Date: Aug. 13, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-06-283922-0

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Katherine Tegen/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: April 10, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2019

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