A satisfying and progressive tale with real sweetness at its center.

MIDDLE SCHOOL, THE WORST YEARS OF MY LIFE

In order to cope with the terrors of middle school, Rafe Khatchadorian teams up with his imaginary friend, Leo, to become a troublemaking legend.

There’s a fine line between a class clown and a smart aleck. Class clowns make big dopey gestures to make up for superficial insecurities, leading to inevitably poor life decisions. As Conan O’Brien once said: “The class clown is killed in a motel shoot-out.” Smart alecks are different. There’s a lot of potential in every one of them. And there’s a lot of potential in Rafe. As his efforts to break every rule in his new school’s handbook progress, Patterson and Tebbetts illuminate the psyche of a scared, angry kid who is smart, creative, bored and ever so over the “teach ’em what’s on the test” mentality the U.S. education system has so ruthlessly perfected. Rafe lashes out against an establishment that is designed against him and a shattered family unit, and it’s hard to push past his defense systems. But once through, readers will discover the best kind of child: one that is intelligent, artistic and brave. The authors weave these ideas through a world perfectly described through a 12-year-old’s point of view, complete with humor and jokes to be expected from that bracket. Witty illustrations and wacky scenarios will rope young readers in, but the emotional undercurrents will keep them hooked.

A satisfying and progressive tale with real sweetness at its center. (Fiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: June 27, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-316-10187-5

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: June 18, 2014

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The three way chats, in which they are joined by other animals, about web spinning, themselves, other humans—are as often...

CHARLOTTE'S WEB

A successful juvenile by the beloved New Yorker writer portrays a farm episode with an imaginative twist that makes a poignant, humorous story of a pig, a spider and a little girl.

Young Fern Arable pleads for the life of runt piglet Wilbur and gets her father to sell him to a neighbor, Mr. Zuckerman. Daily, Fern visits the Zuckermans to sit and muse with Wilbur and with the clever pen spider Charlotte, who befriends him when he is lonely and downcast. At the news of Wilbur's forthcoming slaughter, campaigning Charlotte, to the astonishment of people for miles around, spins words in her web. "Some Pig" comes first. Then "Terrific"—then "Radiant". The last word, when Wilbur is about to win a show prize and Charlotte is about to die from building her egg sac, is "Humble". And as the wonderful Charlotte does die, the sadness is tempered by the promise of more spiders next spring.

The three way chats, in which they are joined by other animals, about web spinning, themselves, other humans—are as often informative as amusing, and the whole tenor of appealing wit and pathos will make fine entertainment for reading aloud, too.

Pub Date: Oct. 15, 1952

ISBN: 978-0-06-026385-0

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Sept. 14, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 1952

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Telgemeier’s bold colors, superior visual storytelling, and unusual subject matter will keep readers emotionally engaged and...

GHOSTS

Catrina narrates the story of her mixed-race (Latino/white) family’s move from Southern California to Bahía de la Luna on the Northern California coast.

Dad has a new job, but it’s little sister Maya’s lungs that motivate the move: she has had cystic fibrosis since birth—a degenerative breathing condition. Despite her health, Maya loves adventure, even if her lungs suffer for it and even when Cat must follow to keep her safe. When Carlos, a tall, brown, and handsome teen Ghost Tour guide introduces the sisters to the Bahía ghosts—most of whom were Spanish-speaking Mexicans when alive—they fascinate Maya and she them, but the terrified Cat wants only to get herself and Maya back to safety. When the ghost adventure leads to Maya’s hospitalization, Cat blames both herself and Carlos, which makes seeing him at school difficult. As Cat awakens to the meaning of Halloween and Day of the Dead in this strange new home, she comes to understand the importance of the ghosts both to herself and to Maya. Telgemeier neatly balances enough issues that a lesser artist would split them into separate stories and delivers as much delight textually as visually. The backmatter includes snippets from Telgemeier’s sketchbook and a photo of her in Día makeup.

Telgemeier’s bold colors, superior visual storytelling, and unusual subject matter will keep readers emotionally engaged and unable to put down this compelling tale. (Graphic fiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: Sept. 13, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-545-54061-2

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: July 2, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2016

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