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

Did you like this book?

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

Did you like this book?

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

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • Kirkus Reviews'
    Best Books Of 2014

  • New York Times Bestseller

  • Newbery Medal Winner

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

Did you like this book?

more