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CHILDREN’S and refuses to go to school, so his parents are in the process of lining up therapy. Meanwhile, Matthew watches his neighbors, taking notes about their comings and goings. When a toddler goes missing, Matthew is the last to see him, and he knows what all the neighbors were doing at the time of the disappearance. He works diligently to solve the case, eventually joining forces with a lonely neighborhood girl, Melody, and a former friend, Jake, who’s been bullied so much that he’s become a bully himself. Despite the severity of his problems, Matthew is an energetic, likable character whose adolescent voice and increasing self-awareness ring true. Rare is the book that manages to be an entertaining page-turner while also offering meaningful insight into a serious disorder. The Goldfish Boy manages to do both in a masterful way.

tide of school integration. While sprinkling his tale with popular vintage games, music and food of the 1970s as well as uproarious humor, Frank weaves in a poignant “out of every conflict comes an opportunity” theme based on Charlie and Armstrong’s relationship. Replete with unforgettable moments, young love and unexpected plot turns, this is a hilarious, heartwarming and timely read. —ANITA LOCK

WHEN MY SISTER STARTED KISSING

the title of your Q: What’s  new book?

would you describe Q: How  the book?

has been the biggest influence on your work? Q: Who 

By Helen Frost

FSG $16.99, 208 pages ISBN 9780374303037 eBook available Ages 10 to 14

was your favorite subject in school? Why? Q: What 

MIDDLE GRADE

This coming-of-age story opens with a lightning-bolt moment— literally the moment a young ARMSTRONG AND CHARLIE mother is struck by lightning and taken from her two toddlers. The By Steven B. Frank narrative then flashes ahead 10 HMH $16.99, 304 pages years—to 10-year-old Claire and ISBN 9780544826083 13-year-old Abigail, enjoying their eBook available usual summer at their lake house. Ages 10 to 12 But this year, everything is different: Dad and his new wife are MIDDLE GRADE expecting a baby. This novel-in-verse alternates Charlie Ross is not looking forbetween Claire and Abigail’s voices ward to starting sixth grade, since while incorporating the perspechis best friends will be attending tive of the lake itself. Throughout different schools. His dad says new these stanzas, Claire tries to come kids from a black housing develto terms with Abigail growing up: opment will be coming to Charlie’s She’s calling herself “Abi” now, has all-white Wonderland Avenue taken a definite interest in boys and is distancing herself from School. Armstrong Le Rois is not looking forward to starting sixth her little sister. With nothing but change at every turn, Claire feels grade either. Waking up at 5:30 every morning to take a bus to attend the seams of her family loosening. an integrated program at WonderGrowing up is hard; growing apart land is not his idea of fun. Charlie is even harder. Novels-in-verse must work and Armstrong butt heads more often than not, but a weeklong class double duty: The story must be camping trip gives the boys an opcompelling and the verse accessiportunity to build a friendship. ble and worthy of the story. Helen Inspired by his own childhood Frost, a Printz Honor-winning experiences, debut author Steven B. author, has done so seamlessly. Her Frank spins a tale that goes beyond mastery extends to her use of varracial issues. In first-person juxtaied poetic forms, including acrosposed narratives, Armstrong and tics, which incorporate lines from Charlie captures the viewpoints of some of Frost’s favorite poems. two preteens caught in the shifting —SHARON VERBETEN —ALICE CARY

meet  RACHEL ISADORA

Q: Who was your childhood hero?

books did you enjoy as a child? Q: What 

one thing would you like to learn to do? Q: What 

message would you like to send to young readers? Q: What 

I JUST WANT TO SAY GOOD NIGHT The latest picture book from Caldecott Honor winner Rachel Isadora, I Just Want to Say Good Night (Nancy Paulsen, $17.99, 32 pages, ISBN 9780399173844, ages 3 to 5), is set on the African plains, where a girl deliberately stalls the bedtime process. But sleep won’t be far away for young readers who discover Isadora’s gentle “good night” refrain and lush oil paintings. Isadora lives in New York City.

31

BookPage March 2017  

Book reviews, Author interviews

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