Lovely, sad, hopeful, and memorable.

ALL THE GREYS ON GREENE STREET

Sixth-grader Olympia—called Ollie by her best friends, Richard and Alex—is left fending for herself when her father disappears and her mother experiences a major depressive crisis.

A vividly depicted urban landscape firmly establishes this novel in the SoHo of 1981, where Ollie lives in a converted industrial loft and picks up packs of cigarettes and Tab at a store on Broadway for her mom. A talented artist, Ollie’s mom has stopped getting out of bed since Ollie’s father, an art restorer, embarked on a clandestine trip to France a week before. At first glance, this elegantly nostalgic and leisurely paced story, sparingly illustrated with delicate pencil drawings, is a mystery involving a valuable wood carving on which Ollie’s dad and his business partner, Apollo, were working. However, there are so many other themes at play—including the intricacies of friendships, the pain of living with depression, and art’s ability to create meaning out of life’s ordinary and sometimes-difficult circumstances—that it defies simple genre categorization. A host of honest, flawed, deeply sympathetic characters that are poignant and funny are at once unique and familiar. Ollie, her parents, and Alex seem to be white by default, Apollo grew up in Poland, and Richard is a black boy of Haitian heritage. There is realistic ethnic diversity reflected in secondary and background characters.

Lovely, sad, hopeful, and memorable. (Historical fiction. 9-12)

Pub Date: June 4, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-451-47953-2

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: March 3, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2019

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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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This pitch-perfect contemporary novel gently explores the past’s repercussions on the present

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AS BRAVE AS YOU

Eleven-year-old Brooklynite Genie has “worry issues,” so when he and his older brother, Ernie, are sent to Virginia to spend a month with their estranged grandparents while their parents “try to figure it all out,” he goes into overdrive.

First, he discovers that Grandpop is blind. Next, there’s no Internet, so the questions he keeps track of in his notebook (over 400 so far) will have to go un-Googled. Then, he breaks the model truck that’s one of the only things Grandma still has of his deceased uncle. And he and Ernie will have to do chores, like picking peas and scooping dog poop. What’s behind the “nunya bidness door”? And is that a gun sticking out from Grandpop’s waistband? Reynolds’ middle-grade debut meanders like the best kind of summer vacation but never loses sense of its throughline. The richly voiced third-person narrative, tightly focused through Genie’s point of view, introduces both brothers and readers to this rural African-American community and allows them to relax and explore even as it delves into the many mysteries that so bedevil Genie, ranging from "Grits? What exactly are they?" to, heartbreakingly, “Why am I so stupid?” Reynolds gives his readers uncommonly well-developed, complex characters, especially the completely believable Genie and Grandpop, whose stubborn self-sufficiency belies his vulnerability and whose flawed love both Genie and readers will cherish.

This pitch-perfect contemporary novel gently explores the past’s repercussions on the present . (Fiction. 9-12)

Pub Date: May 3, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-4814-1590-3

Page Count: 432

Publisher: Caitlyn Dlouhy/Atheneum

Review Posted Online: March 30, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2016

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