Poet Alexander deftly reveals the power of the format to pack an emotional punch.

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THE CROSSOVER

Basketball-playing twins find challenges to their relationship on and off the court as they cope with changes in their lives.

Josh Bell and his twin, Jordan, aka JB, are stars of their school basketball team. They are also successful students, since their educator mother will stand for nothing else. As the two middle schoolers move to a successful season, readers can see their differences despite the sibling connection. After all, Josh has dreadlocks and is quiet on court, and JB is bald and a trash talker. Their love of the sport comes from their father, who had also excelled in the game, though his championship was achieved overseas. Now, however, he does not have a job and seems to have health problems the parents do not fully divulge to the boys. The twins experience their first major rift when JB is attracted to a new girl in their school, and Josh finds himself without his brother. This novel in verse is rich in character and relationships. Most interesting is the family dynamic that informs so much of the narrative, which always reveals, never tells. While Josh relates the story, readers get a full picture of major and minor players. The basketball action provides energy and rhythm for a moving story.

Poet Alexander deftly reveals the power of the format to pack an emotional punch. (Verse fiction. 9-12)

Pub Date: March 18, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-544-10771-7

Page Count: 240

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: Dec. 18, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2014

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A delicious confection and much more: it shows that the human heart is delicate, that it matters, and that it must be...

CIRCUS MIRANDUS

One strange afternoon, 10-year-old Micah Tuttle finds out that magic is real.

Micah always thought Grandpa Ephraim’s wild stories of the centuries-old Circus Mirandus were spun solely for his amusement. But when his dying grandfather writes a letter to the “Lightbender,” hoping to call in the miracle the magician had promised him as a boy, Micah learns the stories were true, and the appearance of Ms. Chintzy, the circus’ cantankerous parrot messenger, clinches the deal. Happily, Micah finds a loyal if somewhat challenging friend to help him track down the elusive light-bending magician: the magic-leery, science-minded Jenny Mendoza. Their budding rapport is nuanced and complex, a refreshing illustration of how absolute like-mindedness is not a prerequisite for friendship. On one level, the book is a fantastical circus romp, with fortunetelling vultures and “a wallaby that could burp the Greek alphabet.” On another, it’s both serious and thick with longing: Micah’s ache for the companionship of his once-vital guardian-grandfather; Grandpa Ephraim’s boyhood yearning for his absent father, as fleshed out in flashbacks; the circus founders’ desire to keep enchantment alive in a world where “faith is such a fragile thing.”

A delicious confection and much more: it shows that the human heart is delicate, that it matters, and that it must be handled with care. (Fiction. 9-12)

Pub Date: June 2, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-525-42843-5

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: March 3, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2015

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Fun, honest, and uplifting: applause!

THE CHANCE TO FLY

An aspiring actor who uses a manual wheelchair is determined to land a part in a community theater production.

Moving cross-country from California to New Jersey and leaving her best friend, Chloe, behind is hard enough for Nat. Even worse, the new house doesn’t feel like home, and her parents are as overprotective as ever. When Nat, an avid fan of musicals, spots an advertisement for the local theater’s production of Wicked, she’s sure that nabbing a part will make her feel at home. But her father wants her to focus on wheelchair racing, and her mother doubts her ability to fit in; it’s up to Nat to prove she can take the stage. The authors know their stuff—Tony Award–winner Stroker was the first wheelchair user to be cast in a Broadway play, and Davidowitz is a playwright—and it shows. Nat’s relationship with her loving but overbearing parents rings perceptively and painfully true, as does her frustration with inaccessible venues and patronizing attitudes. Her enthusiasm for the theater is infectious, but readers needn’t be theater buffs to relate to her fear of growing apart from Chloe and her desire for independence. A quirky cast of secondary characters lends humor, support, and a little romance as they illustrate the fun and rigor of acting. Nat defaults to White; the secondary cast is somewhat diverse.

Fun, honest, and uplifting: applause! (authors’ note) (Fiction. 9-12)

Pub Date: April 13, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-4197-4393-1

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Amulet/Abrams

Review Posted Online: Feb. 9, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2021

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