The next best thing to actually attending a con.

CON QUEST!

Siblings compete in a scavenger hunt at a comics convention.

Twelve-year-old twins Cat and Alex Gallo have been attending GeekiCon their whole lives with their comic-creator parents. This time, they’re determined to win a scavenger hunt organized by the dreamboat star of the hit TV series Paranormal. Fan Cat hopes to spend time with the actor, and artist Alex aims for a TV crew mentorship. Their strictly conventional 14-year-old sister, Fi, has been charged with babysitting them, hoping to prove she’s responsible enough for a camping trip with the cool crowd. Chapters alternate among the three siblings as the twins escape Fi to compete in the challenge. Fi isn’t the only one after the twins—James M., a white, sexist con staffer who scorns “fangirls and fake geeks,” wants them kicked out for participating in the hunt, which has not been endorsed by GeekiCon. The book’s an absolute love letter to con culture, focusing on camaraderie and confidence. Instead of citing real-world pop culture, pseudonymous stand-ins (Whom, M.D.!) turn the text into a scavenger hunt of in-jokes for geeks. The actual scavenger items are challenging and entertaining, as is the resulting conflict between Alex and Cat, despite their strong relationship. The siblings are white, with a Slovakian-immigrant mother; Alex is autistic, developed with nuance and depth. Positive representation’s given to a Filipinx character and to an adorably age-appropriate girl-girl relationship.

The next best thing to actually attending a con. (Adventure. 8-14)

Pub Date: June 23, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-250-30727-9

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Imprint

Review Posted Online: April 8, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2020

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Some readers may feel that the resolution comes a mite too easily, but most will enjoy the journey and be pleased when...

ASHES TO ASHEVILLE

Two sisters make an unauthorized expedition to their former hometown and in the process bring together the two parts of their divided family.

Dooley packs plenty of emotion into this eventful road trip, which takes place over the course of less than 24 hours. Twelve-year-old Ophelia, nicknamed Fella, and her 16-year-old sister, Zoey Grace, aka Zany, are the daughters of a lesbian couple, Shannon and Lacy, who could not legally marry. The two white girls squabble and share memories as they travel from West Virginia to Asheville, North Carolina, where Zany is determined to scatter Mama Lacy’s ashes in accordance with her wishes. The year is 2004, before the Supreme Court decision on gay marriage, and the girls have been separated by hostile, antediluvian custodial laws. Fella’s present-tense narration paints pictures not just of the difficulties they face on the trip (a snowstorm, car trouble, and an unlikely thief among them), but also of their lives before Mama Lacy’s illness and of the ways that things have changed since then. Breathless and engaging, Fella’s distinctive voice is convincingly childlike. The conversations she has with her sister, as well as her insights about their relationship, likewise ring true. While the girls face serious issues, amusing details and the caring adults in their lives keep the tone relatively light.

Some readers may feel that the resolution comes a mite too easily, but most will enjoy the journey and be pleased when Fella’s family figures out how to come together in a new way . (Historical fiction. 10-14)

Pub Date: April 4, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-399-16504-7

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: Feb. 1, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2017

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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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