One of Natasha’s seventh-grade successes is finally finishing a story; usually they are as unfinished as this one, first in...

WISHING DAY

From the Wishing Day series , Vol. 1

In sleepy Willow Hill, a girl’s many wishes come true.

That’s what people say about wishes made on the third night of the third month after her 13th birthday. Seventh-grader Natasha Blok isn’t quite sure she believes this, but after her magical wishing night she does make her first kiss happen. Will the other two come true as well? The oldest of three motherless girls fewer than three years apart in age, Natasha is the responsible one, but she has a secret side: she writes stories. She longs for someone to see all of her, to be “somebody’s favorite.” When she starts getting mysterious messages, she thinks maybe that wish is coming true—or maybe it’s her “impossible wish”: that her mother were still alive. Grounded firmly in present-day middle school life, this has just enough magic to be unsettling and keep readers engaged. Natasha and her sisters, pretty Darya and creative Ava, are clearly drawn, believable characters; all are white. Her encounters with the elderly, enigmatic Bird Lady are deliciously puzzling. The chronologically straightforward third-person narrative is organized into sections separated by other characters’ revealing wishes and propelled by convincing dialogue.

One of Natasha’s seventh-grade successes is finally finishing a story; usually they are as unfinished as this one, first in a planned trilogy. Readers like her sisters will be eager to see where her story goes. (Fiction. 9-13)

Pub Date: May 3, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-06-234206-5

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Katherine Tegen/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Feb. 17, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2016

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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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A fun, new magical world that promises more adventures to come.

THE LAST FALLEN STAR

When a spell goes wrong, a girl sets out on a quest to save her sister.

Riley Oh and her sister, Hattie, are typical Korean American girls except for one thing: They know magic is real. When she turns 13 in two days, Hattie will finally become a full member of the Gom clan, able to wield magic on her own. But because Riley is adopted and saram, or nonmagical, the other clans will not allow her to have an initiation ceremony when she turns 13 in a month. Struck by this unfairness, Hattie finds a spell that will share her magic with Riley. Unfortunately, their plan goes spectacularly wrong, fracturing Riley’s community and endangering Hattie. Feeling responsible for the calamity, Riley, along with her best friend, Emmett, will do whatever it takes to make things right, whether that means striking deals with fickle magical beings or considering the help of an ostracized magical clan. Exploring familial bonds, belonging, and community, this is a fast-paced urban fantasy drawing on Korean mythology. Riley and her friends navigate Los Angeles’ Koreatown and run-ins with dokkaebi and inmyeonjo with a frantic, upbeat energy. Complications and twists keep the plot engaging and snappy. Emmett is cued as biracial (his mother was a Gom elder who married a saram with a Western surname; his father’s ethnicity is not specified).

A fun, new magical world that promises more adventures to come. (glossary) (Fantasy. 9-13)

Pub Date: May 4, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-368-05963-3

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Rick Riordan Presents/Disney

Review Posted Online: Feb. 9, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2021

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