While the story of girls coming together over their love of dance is wonderful on the surface, the failure to acknowledge...

THE AUDITION

From the Maddie Ziegler series , Vol. 1

Ziegler (The Maddie Diaries, 2017), dancer and reality TV star, channels her experience into a new middle-grade novel.

Twelve-year-old Harper McCoy is a young, white girl who loves to dance. Her life’s thrown for a loop when her family picks up stakes and relocates from Connecticut to Florida. Leaving behind the dance studio that has been her home away from home, she is nervous about joining a new team in a new town. Unfortunately, her new team has a well-established clique, the Bunheads, who make Harper’s transition to the new studio that much more difficult. Harper must find it in herself to empathize with her new teammates, to ingratiate herself with them, and come together as a team with them before their first competition. While the themes of loyalty, teamwork, and perspective-taking are all laudable, other more insidious themes are present and fail to be addressed in the text. For instance, Harper regularly struggles with perfectionism, yet this is treated as neutral if not positive rather than a potentially pathological trait that could be harmful to her mental well-being, interpersonal relationships, and even to her dance career. The ubiquity of social media and the behavior of highly competitive stage moms are likewise never addressed.

While the story of girls coming together over their love of dance is wonderful on the surface, the failure to acknowledge many negative features within the story is concerning, particularly as this is likely to appeal to many aspiring young dancers . (Fiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: Oct. 31, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4814-8636-1

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Aladdin

Review Posted Online: Aug. 21, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2017

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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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With Ivan’s movie out this year from Disney, expect great interest—it will be richly rewarded.

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THE ONE AND ONLY BOB

Tiny, sassy Bob the dog, friend of The One and Only Ivan (2012), returns to tell his tale.

Wisecracking Bob, who is a little bit Chihuahua among other things, now lives with his girl, Julia, and her parents. Happily, her father works at Wildworld Zoological Park and Sanctuary, the zoo where Bob’s two best friends, Ivan the gorilla and Ruby the elephant, live, so Bob gets to visit and catch up with them regularly. Due to an early betrayal, Bob doesn’t trust humans (most humans are good only for their thumbs); he fears he’s going soft living with Julia, and he’s certain he is a Bad Dog—as in “not a good representative of my species.” On a visit to the zoo with a storm threatening, Bob accidentally falls into the gorilla enclosure just as a tornado strikes. So that’s what it’s like to fly. In the storm’s aftermath, Bob proves to everyone (and finally himself) that there is a big heart in that tiny chest…and a brave one too. With this companion, Applegate picks up where her Newbery Medal winner left off, and fans will be overjoyed to ride along in the head of lovable, self-deprecating Bob on his storm-tossed adventure. His wry doggy observations and attitude are pitch perfect (augmented by the canine glossary and Castelao’s picture dictionary of dog postures found in the frontmatter). Gorilla Ivan described Julia as having straight, black hair in the previous title, and Castelao's illustrations in that volume showed her as pale-skinned. (Finished art not available for review.)

With Ivan’s movie out this year from Disney, expect great interest—it will be richly rewarded. (afterword) (Fiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: May 5, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-299131-7

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: March 25, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2020

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