April 24, 2018

The Advocate's Toolbox

Diverse Urban Fantasy, Ghostly Horror, & Speculative Thrillers | YA Middle School Fiction

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SLJ1504-Fic-YA-MiddleredstarOlder, Daniel José. Shadowshaper. 304p. Scholastic/Arthur A. Levine Bks. Jun. 2015. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780545591614; ebk. $17.99. ISBN 9780545591621.

Gr 7 Up –Summer has just started, and Sierra plans to enjoy it, hanging out with her friends in their Brooklyn neighborhood and painting a mural at the local junklot. Then things start to get weird. While she is talking to fellow artist Robbie at the first party of the summer, a zombielike creature disrupts things, Robbie disappears, and she is left to discover that she lives in a world full of magic that she knows nothing about. As she slowly pieces together the mystery of her heritage, Sierra discovers her own powers of ancestral magic and battles the evil professor who is trying to steal them. Robbie is a clear love interest, but he isn’t there to rescue Sierra. Sierra is a tough, confident, body-positive female protagonist of Puerto Rican descent, proud of her ‘fro and curves. The fact that she and Robbie seem to be connecting romantically is portrayed as more of a happy coincidence than the culmination of a lifelong dream of romance. Dialogue is fast paced and authentic to Sierra’s Brooklyn neighborhood, which is vividly described. Readers will find someone to whom they can relate in her diverse group of friends. VERDICT Excellent diverse genre fiction in an appealing package.–Kristin Anderson, Columbus Metropolitan Library System, OH

redstarPriest, Cherie. I Am Princess X. illus. by Kali Ciesemier. 240p. Scholastic/Arthur A. Levine Bks. Jun. 2015. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9780545620857; ebk. $18.99. ISBN 9780545642743.

Gr 7 Up –May and Libby created Princess X on the day they met in fifth grade. That was before Libby and her mother died in a car crash. Now May is 16 and looking at another long, lonely summer in Seattle when she spots a Princess X sticker on the corner of a store window. Suddenly she starts seeing Princess X everywhere, including in a webcomic at IAmPrincessX.com, where the princess story is eerily similar to Libby’s. This means that the only person who could have created the comic is May’s best friend—Libby—who must still be alive. In her YA debut, Priest offers a tantalizing, page-turner of a mystery that spans real locations in Seattle and dark pockets of the Internet. May is an assertive, capable heroine who finds help from likable and well-realized characters along the way in this fresh and authentic story. Even when the action moves online, Priest keeps the story exciting and approachable without ever resorting to technical jargon. Accompanying illustrations by Ciesemier bring the story found in the webcomic to life and integrate beautifully with May’s search for Libby in this utterly satisfying read. VERDICT An excellent book with loads of cross-genre and cross-format appeal. Highly recommended.–Emma Carbone, Brooklyn Public Library

redstarShelton, Dave. Thirteen Chairs. 256p. Scholastic/David Fickling Bks. Aug. 2015. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780545816656.

Gr 7 Up –In this spine-tingling short-story collection, a young man named Jack finds himself part of a most unusual storytelling circle. When Jack opens a door to find 12 strangers sitting around a table, a lit candle in front of each of them, his natural curiosity gets the best of him and he joins the group, which is presided over by the proper Mr. Osterly, it becomes clear to Jack that whoever they are, the strangers have gathered to exchange tales. The set-up may remind adult readers of Neil Gaiman’s short story “October in the Chair”—published in Fragile Things (William Morrow, 2006)—but the execution is wholly unique. Over the course of the evening, each person at the table tells a frightening story, and Jack comes to a gradual realization about his new acquaintances that will strike terror into readers’ hearts. The breadth and scope of various stories is impressive—readers are treated to traditional jump tales, malevolent cats, folk tales, and vengeful ghost stories; new spine-chillers are revealed with each turn of the page. VERDICT Fans of chills and things that go bump in the night will want to read this uniformly excellent work—with the lights on.–Elisabeth Gattullo Marrocolla, Darien Library, CT

The following titles are reviewed in this month's print issue:

Anderson, Josh. Backing Up the Beast. ISBN 9781629202501; ISBN 9781629202518; ISBN 9781629204543.

––––. The Iceman’s Meltdown. ISBN 9781629202471; ISBN 9781629202488; ISBN 9781629202464.

Corbo, N.J. Last Line of Defense. ISBN 9781629202532; ISBN 9781629202549; ISBN 9781629202525.

––––. One Goal. ISBN 9781629202563; ISBN 9781629202570; ISBN 9781629202556.

ea vol: 64p. (Heads or Tails). Scobre Educational. 2015. lib. ed. $27.98. pap. $8.99. ebk. $8.99.

Bergren, Lisa T. Season of Fire. 304p. (Remnants: Bk. 2). Blink. 2015. ebook available. Tr $15.99. ISBN 9780310735656.

Cooney, Caroline B. No Such Person. 256p. Delacorte. Jul. 2015. ebook available. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780385742917.

Crossan, Sarah. Apple and Rain. 230p. ebook available. Bloomsbury. May 2015. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781619636903.

Dalton, Michelle. Swept Away. 320p. (Sixteenth Summer: Bk. 3). S. & S./Simon Pulse. May 2015. ebook available. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781481436090; pap. $10.99. ISBN 9781481436083.

Destiny, A. & Alex R. Kahler. Love Is in the Air. 240p. (Flirt). ebook available. S. & S./Simon Pulse. 2015. pap. $9.99. ISBN 9781481423762.

Durango, Julia. The Leveller. 256p. ebook available. HarperCollins/HarperTeen. Jun. 2015. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780062314000.

Jury, Walter & Sarah Fine. Burn. 352p. Putnam. May 2015. ebook available. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780399160684. LC 2014031200.

Krumwiede, Lana. True Son. 288p. (The Psi Chronicles: Bk. 3). Candlewick. Apr. 2015. ebook available. Tr $15.99. ISBN 9780763672621. LC 2014945451.

McIsaac, Meaghan. The Boys of Fire and Ash. 336p. Delacorte. May 2015. ebook available. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9780385744454; lib. ed. $19.99. ISBN 9780375991677. LC 2014006600.

McKay, Sharon E. Prison Boy. 208p. Annick. 2015. Tr $21.95. ISBN 9781554517312; pap. $12.95.

Miranda, Megan. Soulprint. 368p. Bloomsbury. 2015. ebook available. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780802737748. LC 2014009921.

Rossi, Sophia. A Tale of Two Besties: A Hello Giggles Novel. 320p. Penguin/Razorbill. May 2015. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781595148056; ebk. $10.99. ISBN 9780698177802.

Stellings, Caroline. The Secret of the Golden Flower. 184p. (A Nicki Haddon Mystery Series: Bk. 2). Second Story. 2015. pap. $11.95. ISBN 9781927583630.

White, Tara. Where I Belong. 112p. Orca. 2015. pap. $12.95. ISBN 9781896580777.

This article was published in School Library Journal's April 2015 issue. Subscribe today and save up to 35% off the regular subscription rate.