Readers will eagerly join Bicycle and “pedal headfirst” into this terrific adventure, which is chock-full of heart and humor.

THE ADVENTURES OF A GIRL CALLED BICYCLE

Twelve-year-old Bicycle secretly takes off from Washington, D.C., on her steadfast bike, Clunk, and heads to San Francisco by herself to find her bike-racing hero, Zbig—and, hopefully, her first real friend.

Brought up at the Mostly Silent Monastery since she was 3 and home-schooled there, Bicycle understands that loving (and indomitable) Sister Wanda has signed her up for the Friendship Factory Spring Break Special for her own good. But it sounds like a “guaranteed nightmare”; introverted and reflective, with a penchant for wordplay, she needs to seek friends in her own way. In this impressive debut, Uss deftly mixes in elements of fantasy, magic, and mystery—a chatty ghost that haunts Clunk’s handlebars, a second bike that can write and launch missiles, a creepy lady in black with “eyes that freeze your heart”—while always remaining true to the reality of Bicycle’s journey. The author, a cross-country bicyclist herself, perfectly captures the rhythms of day-to-day life on the road: the joy, the hardships (“But everything is just so…big. Crazy-hilly and big!”), the growing sense of freedom and accomplishment, the stick-to-itiveness, the great hunger and the delicious food that relieves it, the kind people, and the bonding with one’s bike. Though it has a substantial cast of quirky supporting characters, the book’s default is white.

Readers will eagerly join Bicycle and “pedal headfirst” into this terrific adventure, which is chock-full of heart and humor. (map) (Fabulism. 8-12)

Pub Date: June 5, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-8234-4007-8

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Margaret Ferguson/Holiday House

Review Posted Online: March 19, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2018

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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

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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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