THE SAMOSA REBELLION

A middle schooler stands up for his community after his fellow citizens embrace the xenophobic rhetoric of their president.

Since Paati, his grandmother, came from India to live with his family in the fictional island nation of Mariposa, 12-year-old Muki Krishnan has had to adjust to a lot. First of all, Paati snores through the night. Secondly, she rouses him out of bed for yoga before his commute across the city with his Salvadoran best friend, Fabi Calderón, to attend the exclusive prep school where they have scholarships. The differences between their lives and those of their classmates have always been stark. But when Mariposa’s president describes residents as either Mariposans/Butterflies (i.e., those who have been there for generations and who are mostly White) or Moths (i.e., immigrants, predominantly people of color), tensions rise immediately. After Paati is detained, Muki realizes that you are never too young to become a revolutionary and asks to join the secret rebellion against the deportations. The Indian independence movement is referenced several times among rebellion organizers, and the strength of the Krishnans’ multicultural neighborhood is celebrated throughout the book. Sekaran explains systemic racism and the dangers of demagoguery in clear and age-appropriate ways with evocative prose. Spot art showing Muki’s sketches enhances the text, and the opening page of each chapter is adorned with butterflies in flight.

Breathtakingly memorable. (map) (Fiction. 10-13)

Pub Date: Sept. 21, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-06-305153-9

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Katherine Tegen/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: July 27, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2021

Did you like this book?

Wholesome shading to bland, but well-stocked with exotic creatures and locales, plus an agreeable cast headed by a child...

KEEPER OF THE LOST CITIES

A San Diego preteen learns that she’s an elf, with a place in magic school if she moves to the elves’ hidden realm.

Having felt like an outsider since a knock on the head at age 5 left her able to read minds, Sophie is thrilled when hunky teen stranger Fitz convinces her that she’s not human at all and transports her to the land of Lumenaria, where the ageless elves live. Taken in by a loving couple who run a sanctuary for extinct and mythical animals, Sophie quickly gathers friends and rivals at Foxfire, a distinctly Hogwarts-style school. She also uncovers both clues to her mysterious origins and hints that a rash of strangely hard-to-quench wildfires back on Earth are signs of some dark scheme at work. Though Messenger introduces several characters with inner conflicts and ambiguous agendas, Sophie herself is more simply drawn as a smart, radiant newcomer who unwillingly becomes the center of attention while developing what turn out to be uncommonly powerful magical abilities—reminiscent of the younger Harry Potter, though lacking that streak of mischievousness that rescues Harry from seeming a little too perfect. The author puts her through a kidnapping and several close brushes with death before leaving her poised, amid hints of a higher destiny and still-anonymous enemies, for sequels.

Wholesome shading to bland, but well-stocked with exotic creatures and locales, plus an agreeable cast headed by a child who, while overly fond of screaming, rises to every challenge. (Fantasy. 10-12)

Pub Date: Oct. 2, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-4424-4593-2

Page Count: 496

Publisher: Aladdin

Review Posted Online: July 18, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2012

Did you like this book?

Energizing and compassionate.

OBIE IS MAN ENOUGH

An aspiring transgender Junior Olympian swimmer finds the strength and pride in his identity to race toward his dreams in this debut coming-of-age novel by groundbreaking trans athlete Bailar.

Starting over after his abusive and discriminatory swim coach excluded him from the team, Obie Chang, a biracial (White/Korean) transgender boy worries about catching up to the other boys and proving that he is “man enough.” Although his family supports him, one of his best friends at school and the pool has turned into his biggest bully, and the other is drifting away toward the mean, popular girls. As he dives from the blocks into the challenging waters of seventh grade and swims toward his goal of qualifying for the Junior Olympics, Obie discovers belonging in his community and in himself. Affirming adults—including his parents and grandparents, a new swim coach, and his favorite teacher—play significant supporting roles by offering encouragement without pressure, centering Obie’s feelings, and validating Obie’s right to set his own boundaries. Vulnerable first-person narration explores Obie’s internal conflict about standing up for himself and his desire to connect to his Korean heritage through his relationship with Halmoni, his paternal grandmother. A romance with Charlie, a cisgender biracial (Cuban/White) girl, is gentle and privacy-affirming. Short chapters and the steady pace of external tension balance moments of rumination, grounding them in the ongoing action of Obie’s experiences.

Energizing and compassionate. (author's note, resources, glossary) (Fiction. 10-13)

Pub Date: Sept. 7, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-593-37946-2

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: July 8, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2021

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet
more