An engaging sports-infused mystery for reluctant readers.

NAME YOUR MOUNTAIN

From the PathFinders series

A Choctaw high school student named Bobby tries to help his best friend when his family is under attack.

Oklahoma junior Bobby Byington plays basketball on two different teams: his school team, the Panthers, and a statewide, all-Indian team, the Achukmas. Bobby’s best friend is Johnny Mackey, a Cherokee teenager whose father is a prominent lawyer. An accident causes Mr. Mackey to fall off a ladder and end up in the hospital, but as the police investigate, it turns out to have been deliberate—and when the Mackeys’ house is firebombed, it’s clear they are at risk. While Johnny and his family hide out in a safe house, Bobby, alongside the detective on the case, wants to figure out who is responsible. The police take the original incident seriously and cooperate with the Native characters to find the people responsible. By working together with his friend Lloyd and with the help of the Achukmas’ Coach Robison, Bobby puts himself in harm’s way to discover the truth. Refreshingly, the book normalizes male characters’ close friendships and displays of emotion, tying into Tingle’s (Choctaw) mountain metaphor: We encounter challenges every day, but they do not need to be climbed alone. The text uses basketball to emphasize the importance of teamwork both on and off the court.

An engaging sports-infused mystery for reluctant readers. (Fiction. 12-16)

Pub Date: Jan. 15, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-939053-20-6

Page Count: 168

Publisher: 7th Generation

Review Posted Online: Sept. 29, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2020

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Characters to love, quips to snort at, insights to ponder: typical Spinelli.

DEAD WEDNESDAY

For two teenagers, a small town’s annual cautionary ritual becomes both a life- and a death-changing experience.

On the second Wednesday in June, every eighth grader in Amber Springs, Pennsylvania, gets a black shirt, the name and picture of a teen killed the previous year through reckless behavior—and the silent treatment from everyone in town. Like many of his classmates, shy, self-conscious Robbie “Worm” Tarnauer has been looking forward to Dead Wed as a day for cutting loose rather than sober reflection…until he finds himself talking to a strange girl or, as she would have it, “spectral maiden,” only he can see or touch. Becca Finch is as surprised and confused as Worm, only remembering losing control of her car on an icy slope that past Christmas Eve. But being (or having been, anyway) a more outgoing sort, she sees their encounter as a sign that she’s got a mission. What follows, in a long conversational ramble through town and beyond, is a day at once ordinary yet rich in discovery and self-discovery—not just for Worm, but for Becca too, with a climactic twist that leaves both ready, or readier, for whatever may come next. Spinelli shines at setting a tongue-in-cheek tone for a tale with serious underpinnings, and as in Stargirl (2000), readers will be swept into the relationship that develops between this adolescent odd couple. Characters follow a White default.

Characters to love, quips to snort at, insights to ponder: typical Spinelli. (Fiction. 12-15)

Pub Date: Aug. 3, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-593-30667-3

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: June 1, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2021

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A smart, timely outing.

RADIO SILENCE

Two teens connect through a mysterious podcast in this sophomore effort by British author Oseman (Solitaire, 2015).

Frances Janvier is a 17-year-old British-Ethiopian head girl who is so driven to get into Cambridge that she mostly forgoes friendships for schoolwork. Her only self-indulgence is listening to and creating fan art for the podcast Universe City, “a…show about a suit-wearing student detective looking for a way to escape a sci-fi, monster-infested university.” Aled Last is a quiet white boy who identifies as “partly asexual.” When Frances discovers that Aled is the secret creator of Universe City, the two embark on a passionate, platonic relationship based on their joint love of pop culture. Their bond is complicated by Aled’s controlling mother and by Frances’ previous crush on Aled’s twin sister, Carys, who ran away last year and disappeared. When Aled’s identity is accidently leaked to the Universe City fandom, he severs his relationship with Frances, leaving her questioning her Cambridge goals and determined to win back his affection, no matter what the cost. Frances’ narration is keenly intelligent; she takes mordant pleasure in using an Indian friend’s ID to get into a club despite the fact they look nothing alike: “Gotta love white people.” Though the social-media–suffused plot occasionally lags, the main characters’ realistic relationship accurately depicts current issues of gender, race, and class.

A smart, timely outing. (Fiction. 12-16)

Pub Date: March 28, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-06-233571-5

Page Count: 496

Publisher: HarperTeen

Review Posted Online: Jan. 17, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2017

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