TOO BRIGHT TO SEE

In the wake of his uncle’s death, a transgender boy on the cusp of middle school grapples with grief, friendship, and identity.

Bug lives in a haunted house, but the ghosts of long ago never bothered him before this summer. Then Uncle Roderick, who was gay, passed away, and now the house feels different with just Bug and his mom left. Usually he would spend a month away at camp, the only place he feels connected to a group, but money is tight this year. When a ghost begins following Bug and his dreams turn to nightmares, he searches for answers about who is haunting him and why. As the ghostly mystery unfolds over the course of the summer, Bug struggles with new tension with his best friend, Moira, a girl whose interest in the duo’s reinventing themselves in middle school feels overwhelming and full of expectations he doesn’t know how to meet. This coming-of-age and coming-out story takes a needed departure from other stories about transgender youth by illuminating the perspective of a young person who does not initially know how to identify his discomfort. The narrative pushes against gendered stereotypes about interests like sports and makeup, challenging restricting ideas about gender and self-expression. A chilling, suspenseful ghost story balances the intimate, introspective narrative style. Most of the characters are White, including Bug, his family, and Moira.

Haunting and healing. (author's note) (Fiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: April 20, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-593-11115-4

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: Feb. 9, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2021

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An inspiring sports story all the way to the buzzer.

WE ARE FAMILY

Basketball is life in Lorain, Ohio.

A group of seventh graders have different reasons for joining Hoop Group, an elite youth basketball program. Jayden, who lives in a tiny, cramped house with his mother and grandmother, desperately needs the money playing for the NBA would bring. Chris’ uncle made it out of Lorain and into the NBA, but he doesn’t share his uncle’s skills and can’t quite live up to his father’s expectations. Tamika’s dad was Hoop Group’s coach before Parkinson’s disease put the team’s future in jeopardy; she has a lot to prove and dreams of being the next Pat Summitt. Dex and his hardworking single mom are struggling with poverty, but he just loves the game––especially the Cleveland Cavs. And Anthony, frankly, doesn’t have much of a choice; it was either join this character-building group or face expulsion from school. A makeshift team of preteens with a lot on their plates, they discover as much about themselves (and one another) off the court as they do on it. The authors present a convincing argument about the value of basketball beyond points on the board and big contracts. The characters’ dreams are relatable along with the book’s universally valuable emphasis on hard work and perseverance. But the specifics about what it takes to make it in basketball and the fast-paced on-court action provide something special for young fans of the game. Main characters read as Black.

An inspiring sports story all the way to the buzzer. (Fiction. 9-12)

Pub Date: Aug. 31, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-06-297109-8

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: July 8, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2021

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Classic action-packed, monster-fighting fun

THE LAST KIDS ON EARTH

From the Last Kids on Earth series , Vol. 1

It’s been 42 days since the Monster Apocalypse began, and 13-year-old Jack Sullivan, a self-proclaimed “zombie-fighting, monster-slaying tornado of cool” is on a quest to find and rescue his not-so-secret crush, June Del Toro, whether she needs it, wants it, or not.

Jack cobbles together an unlikely but endearing crew, including his scientist best friend, Quint Baker; Dirk Savage, Parker Middle School’s biggest bully; and a pet monster named Rover, to help him save the damsel in distress and complete the “ULTIMATE Feat of Apocalyptic Success.” Middle-grade readers, particularly boys, will find Jack’s pitch-perfect mix of humor, bravado, and self-professed geekiness impossible to resist. His sidekicks are equally entertaining, and it doesn’t hurt that there are also plenty of oozing, drooling, sharp-toothed monsters and zombies and a host of gizmos and gadgets to hook readers and keep them cheering with every turn of the page. Holgate’s illustrations play an integral role in the novel’s success. They not only bring Brallier’s characters to life, but also add depth and detail to the story, making plain just exactly how big Rover is and giving the lie to Jack’s “killer driving.” The marriage of text and illustration serves as a perfect example of what an illustrated novel can and should be.

Classic action-packed, monster-fighting fun (. (Graphic/horror hybrid. 8-12)

Pub Date: Oct. 13, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-670-01661-7

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: July 22, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2015

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