Rich in detail; offers readers immediacy and connection.

THE LUCKY ONES

An 11-year-old and his family struggle to maintain hope as they cope with poverty in an African American community in the Mississippi Delta during the 1960s.

Ellis Earl Brown lives with his family of 11 in Wilsonville, Mississippi. His father died in an accident, and although his mother has difficulty providing enough food, sometimes they make room for others in need. His teacher, Mr. Foster, brings lunch for his students as well as offering rides to and from school. School is the place where Ellis Earl is happy. He finds solace in the new book he borrowed from Mr. Foster. His teacher uses Jet magazine to teach the class important things about the larger world that Black kids need to know. Ellis Earl wants to be just like him someday—or perhaps a lawyer like Thurgood Marshall. The family’s fortunes take a turn for the better after Mr. Foster invites Ellis Earl to participate in the Easter program at his church and includes him in a group welcoming Sen. Robert Kennedy to the area. Jackson draws on her personal history to show real people behind Kennedy’s historic visit, which bolstered support for essential social programs. She successfully presents individuals who, despite grinding poverty, nurtured hopes and dreams, and she highlights those like Mr. Foster and his church community who shared what they had with those in need.

Rich in detail; offers readers immediacy and connection. (author's notes) (Historical fiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: April 12, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-5362-2255-5

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: Jan. 26, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2022

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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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Telgemeier’s bold colors, superior visual storytelling, and unusual subject matter will keep readers emotionally engaged and...

GHOSTS

Catrina narrates the story of her mixed-race (Latino/white) family’s move from Southern California to Bahía de la Luna on the Northern California coast.

Dad has a new job, but it’s little sister Maya’s lungs that motivate the move: she has had cystic fibrosis since birth—a degenerative breathing condition. Despite her health, Maya loves adventure, even if her lungs suffer for it and even when Cat must follow to keep her safe. When Carlos, a tall, brown, and handsome teen Ghost Tour guide introduces the sisters to the Bahía ghosts—most of whom were Spanish-speaking Mexicans when alive—they fascinate Maya and she them, but the terrified Cat wants only to get herself and Maya back to safety. When the ghost adventure leads to Maya’s hospitalization, Cat blames both herself and Carlos, which makes seeing him at school difficult. As Cat awakens to the meaning of Halloween and Day of the Dead in this strange new home, she comes to understand the importance of the ghosts both to herself and to Maya. Telgemeier neatly balances enough issues that a lesser artist would split them into separate stories and delivers as much delight textually as visually. The backmatter includes snippets from Telgemeier’s sketchbook and a photo of her in Día makeup.

Telgemeier’s bold colors, superior visual storytelling, and unusual subject matter will keep readers emotionally engaged and unable to put down this compelling tale. (Graphic fiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: Sept. 13, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-545-54061-2

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: July 2, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2016

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