GIANT PUMPKIN SUITE

When a girl’s giant talent seems finished, a giant pumpkin demonstrates life’s just beginning.

Rose Brutigan, a 12-year-old white girl, towers over her twin brother in more ways than one. She’s a focused, numbers-loving cello prodigy who practices tirelessly for the upcoming Bach Cello Suites Competition. Having grown extremely tall during the school year, she’s usually regarded as the older sibling. Short, nonmusical Thomas is literally more down-to-earth. He’s obsessed with growing a huge pumpkin in their elderly neighbor’s yard. Two serious accidents caused by Rose’s recklessness, plus her musical-genius idol’s inexcusable rudeness, force Rose to acknowledge that she may never play, let alone compete, again. Enter the pumpkin. Not only does Rose become engrossed in Thomas’ project, so do others. Their multiethnic, multicultural neighbors bond as they contribute scraps to a prodigious compost pile to nourish a record-breaking pumpkin; soon, everyone anticipates another competition—for giant vegetables at the state fair. Rose’s friends and family are a marvelous group; readers will rejoice as they get to know these delightful folk and learn their many varied interests—and enormous-gourd–growing techniques. The local library and Charlotte’s Web also play pivotal roles. Rose develops in maturity and awareness about herself and others and learns important life lessons. There’s abundant warmth, humor, and heart in this charmer, and readers will root for both characters and pumpkin.

A winning debut. (Fiction. 9-12)

Pub Date: Sept. 12, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-7636-9155-4

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: June 27, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2017

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Poet Alexander deftly reveals the power of the format to pack an emotional punch.

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THE CROSSOVER

Basketball-playing twins find challenges to their relationship on and off the court as they cope with changes in their lives.

Josh Bell and his twin, Jordan, aka JB, are stars of their school basketball team. They are also successful students, since their educator mother will stand for nothing else. As the two middle schoolers move to a successful season, readers can see their differences despite the sibling connection. After all, Josh has dreadlocks and is quiet on court, and JB is bald and a trash talker. Their love of the sport comes from their father, who had also excelled in the game, though his championship was achieved overseas. Now, however, he does not have a job and seems to have health problems the parents do not fully divulge to the boys. The twins experience their first major rift when JB is attracted to a new girl in their school, and Josh finds himself without his brother. This novel in verse is rich in character and relationships. Most interesting is the family dynamic that informs so much of the narrative, which always reveals, never tells. While Josh relates the story, readers get a full picture of major and minor players. The basketball action provides energy and rhythm for a moving story.

Poet Alexander deftly reveals the power of the format to pack an emotional punch. (Verse fiction. 9-12)

Pub Date: March 18, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-544-10771-7

Page Count: 240

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: Dec. 18, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2014

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A worthy combination of athletic action, the virtues of inner strength, and the importance of friendship.

LEGACY AND THE DOUBLE

From the Legacy series , Vol. 2

A young tennis champion becomes the target of revenge.

In this sequel to Legacy and the Queen (2019), Legacy Petrin and her friends Javi and Pippa have returned to Legacy’s home province and the orphanage run by her father. With her friends’ help, she is in training to defend her championship when they discover that another player, operating under the protection of High Consul Silla, is presenting herself as Legacy. She is so convincing that the real Legacy is accused of being an imitation. False Legacy has become a hero to the masses, further strengthening Silla’s hold, and it becomes imperative to uncover and defeat her. If Legacy is to win again, she must play her imposter while disguised as someone else. Winning at tennis is not just about money and fame, but resisting Silla’s plans to send more young people into brutal mines with little hope of better lives. Legacy will have to overcome her fears and find the magic that allowed her to claim victory in the past. This story, with its elements of sports, fantasy, and social consciousness that highlight tensions between the powerful and those they prey upon, successfully continues the series conceived by late basketball superstar Bryant. As before, the tennis matches are depicted with pace and spirit. Legacy and Javi have brown skin; most other characters default to White.

A worthy combination of athletic action, the virtues of inner strength, and the importance of friendship. (Fantasy. 9-12)

Pub Date: Aug. 24, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-949520-19-4

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Granity Studios

Review Posted Online: July 28, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2021

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