This solid addition to the series should please fans and newcomers alike.

THE MIDWINTER WITCH

Will Aster, accepted as a witch by his immediate family, find that approval with his extended family? And does Ariel, welcomed into the Vanissen fold, even want a family?

As the ward of the Vanissen family, Ariel’s now being trained in witchcraft, and in a world in which magic is passed down and learned within families, this should be a wonderful thing. But orphaned Ariel chafes against magical traditions and the emphasis on family, a response that appears to be the result of her understandable fear of abandonment and intimacy. Added to this are nightly dream visitations from a woman named Isabel Torres. Claiming to be her aunt, Isabel plants doubts about the Vanissens’ acceptance and feeds Ariel’s anti-traditionalist leanings. Meanwhile, the Midwinter Festival—an annual magical extended family reunion—is coming, and Aster wants to compete in the Jolrun for the title of Midwinter Witch. As the first boy to openly study witchcraft, he’ll be the first boy to compete. The Vanissens, Ariel, and nonmagical friend Charlie attend, but a surprise at the Jolrun causes conflict. Ostertag’s signature bold, clear, thick-lined illustrations are at work here, as are her fascinating magical world-within-a-world worldbuilding and thoughtfully inclusive approach to LGBTQ and racial representation. Aster is biracial, with a white mom and brown-skinned dad, Ariel has olive skin and dark hair, and Charlie is black, with two black dads.

This solid addition to the series should please fans and newcomers alike. (Graphic fantasy. 8-14)

Pub Date: Nov. 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-338-54055-0

Page Count: 208

Publisher: Graphix/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Aug. 26, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2019

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

Readers can still rely on this series to bring laughs.

WRECKING BALL

From the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series , Vol. 14

The Heffley family’s house undergoes a disastrous attempt at home improvement.

When Great Aunt Reba dies, she leaves some money to the family. Greg’s mom calls a family meeting to determine what to do with their share, proposing home improvements and then overruling the family’s cartoonish wish lists and instead pushing for an addition to the kitchen. Before bringing in the construction crew, the Heffleys attempt to do minor maintenance and repairs themselves—during which Greg fails at the work in various slapstick scenes. Once the professionals are brought in, the problems keep getting worse: angry neighbors, terrifying problems in walls, and—most serious—civil permitting issues that put the kibosh on what work’s been done. Left with only enough inheritance to patch and repair the exterior of the house—and with the school’s dismal standardized test scores as a final straw—Greg’s mom steers the family toward moving, opening up house-hunting and house-selling storylines (and devastating loyal Rowley, who doesn’t want to lose his best friend). While Greg’s positive about the move, he’s not completely uncaring about Rowley’s action. (And of course, Greg himself is not as unaffected as he wishes.) The gags include effectively placed callbacks to seemingly incidental events (the “stress lizard” brought in on testing day is particularly funny) and a lampoon of after-school-special–style problem books. Just when it seems that the Heffleys really will move, a new sequence of chaotic trouble and property destruction heralds a return to the status quo. Whew.

Readers can still rely on this series to bring laughs. (Graphic/fiction hybrid. 8-12)

Pub Date: Nov. 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4197-3903-3

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Amulet/Abrams

Review Posted Online: Nov. 19, 2019

Did you like this book?

An engrossing, humorous, and vitally important graphic novel that should be required reading in every middle school in...

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • Kirkus Reviews'
    Best Books Of 2019

  • Kirkus Prize
  • Kirkus Prize
    winner

  • IndieBound Bestseller

NEW KID

From the New Kid series , Vol. 1

Jordan Banks takes readers down the rabbit hole and into his mostly white prep school in this heartbreakingly accurate middle-grade tale of race, class, microaggressions, and the quest for self-identity.

He may be the new kid, but as an African-American boy from Washington Heights, that stigma entails so much more than getting lost on the way to homeroom. Riverdale Academy Day School, located at the opposite end of Manhattan, is a world away, and Jordan finds himself a stranger in a foreign land, where pink clothing is called salmon, white administrators mistake a veteran African-American teacher for the football coach, and white classmates ape African-American Vernacular English to make themselves sound cool. Jordan’s a gifted artist, and his drawings blend with the narrative to give readers a full sense of his two worlds and his methods of coping with existing in between. Craft skillfully employs the graphic-novel format to its full advantage, giving his readers a delightful and authentic cast of characters who, along with New York itself, pop off the page with vibrancy and nuance. Shrinking Jordan to ant-sized proportions upon his entering the school cafeteria, for instance, transforms the lunchroom into a grotesque Wonderland in which his lack of social standing becomes visually arresting and viscerally uncomfortable.

An engrossing, humorous, and vitally important graphic novel that should be required reading in every middle school in America. (Graphic fiction. 10-14)

Pub Date: Feb. 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-06-269120-0

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Oct. 15, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2018

Did you like this book?

more