A hard-fought emotional score.

BOOKED

From the Crossover series

Eighth grader Nick Hall is a smart kid and a rising soccer star struggling with some rather sizable obstacles off the pitch in this graphic adaptation of Alexander’s 2016 verse novel by the same name.

Despite being quick on his feet and clever enough to dodge his schoolwork, Nick can’t as easily maneuver around his parents’ impending separation, sending his life into a bit of a spiral. Black-and-white illustrations with striking green accents from Anyabwile complement an emotional narrative about the forces kicking Nick while he’s already down. High expectations from his father, incessant bullying, and a sudden health scare that gets in the way of soccer aspirations pile on top of Nick during an already challenging stage of adolescence. But distance from his mother throughout all of this exacerbates a heartbreakingly relatable sinking feeling that necessitates professional intervention to help Nick work through his hurt. While the free-verse text may not always be an intuitive read for many traditional graphic-novel fans—especially when it comes to following dialogue—Alexander’s poetic storytelling and knack for language wrap around fun and expressive artwork to make for an inarguably charming format that may especially hold appeal for reluctant readers. Main characters are Black, and there is racial diversity in the supporting cast.

A hard-fought emotional score. (Graphic fiction. 10-13)

Pub Date: Jan. 4, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-358-16181-3

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Etch/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Oct. 13, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2021

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

A thought-provoking title for sophisticated readers.

THE MYSTERIOUS DISAPPEARANCE OF AIDAN S. (AS TOLD TO HIS BROTHER)

A missing boy returns from another world. Will anyone believe his story?

When 12-year-old Aidan goes missing, his family and community members search everywhere in their small town. Things progress from worrying to terrifying when Aidan doesn’t turn up. No note. No trace. Not even a body. Six days later, Aidan’s younger brother, Lucas, finds Aidan alive in the attic they’d searched many times before. Aidan claims he was in a magical world called Aveinieu and that he got there through a dresser. While everyone around the brothers searches for answers, Lucas gets Aidan to open up about Aveinieu. Lucas, who narrates the story, grapples with the impossibility of the situation as he pieces it all together. Is any part of Aidan’s story true? YA veteran Levithan’s first foray into middle grade is a poignant tale of brotherly love and family trauma. The introspective writing, funneled through a precocious narrator, is as much about what truth means as about what happened. Though an engaging read for the way it makes readers consider and reconsider the mystery, the slow burn may deter those craving tidy resolutions. Bookish readers, however, will delight in the homages to well-known books, including When You Reach Me and The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. The cast defaults to White; the matter-of-fact inclusion of LGBTQ+ characters is noteworthy.

A thought-provoking title for sophisticated readers. (Mystery/fantasy. 10-13)

Pub Date: Feb. 2, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-984848-59-8

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: Dec. 25, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2021

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

THE BAD BEGINNING

The Baudelaire children—Violet, 14, Klaus, 12, and baby Sunny—are exceedingly ill-fated; Snicket extracts both humor and horror from their situation, as he gleefully puts them through one terrible ordeal after another. After receiving the news that their parents died in a fire, the three hapless orphans are delivered into the care of Count Olaf, who “is either a third cousin four times removed, or a fourth cousin three times removed.” The villainous Count Olaf is morally depraved and generally mean, and only takes in the downtrodden yet valiant children so that he can figure out a way to separate them from their considerable inheritance. The youngsters are able to escape his clutches at the end, but since this is the first installment in A Series of Unfortunate Events, there will be more ghastly doings. Written with old-fashioned flair, this fast-paced book is not for the squeamish: the Baudelaire children are truly sympathetic characters who encounter a multitude of distressing situations. Those who enjoy a little poison in their porridge will find it wicked good fun. (b&w illustrations, not seen) (Fiction. 10-12)

Pub Date: Sept. 30, 1999

ISBN: 0-06-440766-7

Page Count: 162

Publisher: HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1999

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet
more