A funny, cautionary tale for the age of social media

ISABELLA FOR REAL

Beware the dangers of YouTube celebrity!

Eleven-year-old Isabella is in a serious bind. Her cousin Vincent, who is a film school student, filmed her playing herself for a class project. And what a character she is! A white New Jersey girl from an Italian-American family, her character is portrayed with an over-the-top, frenetic brush. Every archetype of both Jersey and Italian-Americans is pushed to the max with warmth and a sense of humor. When Vincent posts his video on YouTube, Isabella becomes an instant sensation. Unfortunately, Isabella has been leading a double life. She has just started attending a private school and, in an effort to fit in with her peers, has been pretending to come from a much more glamorous background. Now with her newfound but most definitely unwanted celebrity she will be exposed as a “fibbing, faking, phony.” The story is told in a mix of narrated film scenes (with the occasional multiple take) and Pham’s comic art, both contributing to accelerate the pace of the account. This is a timely story in an age where kids are being constantly reminded of the perils of revealing too much on social media.

A funny, cautionary tale for the age of social media . (Graphic/fiction hybrid. 10-12)

Pub Date: Oct. 11, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-544-14846-8

Page Count: 208

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: July 2, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2016

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An eminently satisfying story of family, recovery, and growing into manhood.

REBOUND

In this prequel to Newbery Award–winning The Crossover (2014), Alexander revisits previous themes and formats while exploring new ones.

For Charlie Bell, the future father of The Crossover’s Jordan and Josh, his father’s death alters his relationship with his mother and causes him to avoid what reminds him of his dad. At first, he’s just withdrawn, but after he steals from a neighbor, his mother packs a reluctant Charlie off to his grandparents near Washington, D.C., for the summer. His grandfather works part-time at a Boys and Girls Club where his cousin Roxie is a star basketball player. Despite his protests, she draws him into the game. His time with his grandparents deepens Charlie’s understanding of his father, and he begins to heal. “I feel / a little more normal, / like maybe he’s still here, / … in a / as long as I remember him / he’s still right here / in my heart / kind of way.” Once again, Alexander has given readers an African-American protagonist to cheer. He is surrounded by a strong supporting cast, especially two brilliant female characters, his friend CJ and his cousin Roxie, as well as his feisty and wise granddaddy. Music and cultural references from the late 1980s add authenticity. The novel in verse is enhanced by Anyabwile’s art, which reinforces Charlie’s love for comics.

An eminently satisfying story of family, recovery, and growing into manhood. (Historical verse fiction. 10-12)

Pub Date: April 2, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-544-86813-7

Page Count: 416

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: March 4, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2018

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THE BAD BEGINNING

The Baudelaire children—Violet, 14, Klaus, 12, and baby Sunny—are exceedingly ill-fated; Snicket extracts both humor and horror from their situation, as he gleefully puts them through one terrible ordeal after another. After receiving the news that their parents died in a fire, the three hapless orphans are delivered into the care of Count Olaf, who “is either a third cousin four times removed, or a fourth cousin three times removed.” The villainous Count Olaf is morally depraved and generally mean, and only takes in the downtrodden yet valiant children so that he can figure out a way to separate them from their considerable inheritance. The youngsters are able to escape his clutches at the end, but since this is the first installment in A Series of Unfortunate Events, there will be more ghastly doings. Written with old-fashioned flair, this fast-paced book is not for the squeamish: the Baudelaire children are truly sympathetic characters who encounter a multitude of distressing situations. Those who enjoy a little poison in their porridge will find it wicked good fun. (b&w illustrations, not seen) (Fiction. 10-12)

Pub Date: Sept. 30, 1999

ISBN: 0-06-440766-7

Page Count: 162

Publisher: HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1999

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