Wish fulfillment with surprising meat.

UNBELIEVABLY BORING BART

Bart hides behind a boring facade while secretly working on a video game.

Though Bart claims to be boring, frequent illustrations of the inventive ways Bart sees the world mark him as entertaining from the start. Then Bart discloses that he’s been tasked with defending the Earth against an invasion of the tech-eating Lerkians—only to reveal the phone app he uses to do so is really a game he’s invented that takes inspiration from his difficulties with bullies. When the game goes viral, Bart finds himself spending all of his time debugging it, which comes between him and his only friend—a cyberschooled girl who lives in his apartment building but whom he talks to only via a Snapchat-esque app. With the announcement that a popular YouTube channel will be coming to town to cover Bart’s game, Bart decides to use the show and his proceeds to get revenge on his three bullies—but the turnabout doesn’t work out as he hopes. The bullying storylines play out with nuance—though neither the bullies nor Bart face official consequences for their actions, the interactions lead to introspection and growth. Introverted, white Bart is happy that people like his game, but he prefers a smaller friendship circle—especially his neighbor friend, who is eventually revealed to be a girl of color with disabilities.

Wish fulfillment with surprising meat. (Fiction. 7-12)

Pub Date: Sept. 3, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-316-41153-0

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Jimmy Patterson/Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: May 23, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2018

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For every dreaming girl (and boy) with a pencil in hand (or keyboard) and a story to share. (Memoir/poetry. 8-12)

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BROWN GIRL DREAMING

A multiaward–winning author recalls her childhood and the joy of becoming a writer.

Writing in free verse, Woodson starts with her 1963 birth in Ohio during the civil rights movement, when America is “a country caught / / between Black and White.” But while evoking names such as Malcolm, Martin, James, Rosa and Ruby, her story is also one of family: her father’s people in Ohio and her mother’s people in South Carolina. Moving south to live with her maternal grandmother, she is in a world of sweet peas and collards, getting her hair straightened and avoiding segregated stores with her grandmother. As the writer inside slowly grows, she listens to family stories and fills her days and evenings as a Jehovah’s Witness, activities that continue after a move to Brooklyn to reunite with her mother. The gift of a composition notebook, the experience of reading John Steptoe’s Stevie and Langston Hughes’ poetry, and seeing letters turn into words and words into thoughts all reinforce her conviction that “[W]ords are my brilliance.” Woodson cherishes her memories and shares them with a graceful lyricism; her lovingly wrought vignettes of country and city streets will linger long after the page is turned.

For every dreaming girl (and boy) with a pencil in hand (or keyboard) and a story to share. (Memoir/poetry. 8-12)

Pub Date: Aug. 28, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-399-25251-8

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Nancy Paulsen Books

Review Posted Online: June 25, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2014

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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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