Subscriber-Only Content; You must be a PW subscriber to access the backissue database. PW has integrated its print and digital subscriptions, offering exciting new benefits to subscribers, who are now entitled to both the print edition and the digital edition via our app or online. For more information on PW's new integrated subscription plan, click here. If you are currently a PW subscriber, click "Login" for full access to the site (if you have not done so already, you will need to set up your account for the new system by going here), or click the "Subscribe" button to become a PW subscriber. Email service@publishersweekly.com with questions.

Login or Subscribe
Playing for the Devil's Fire

Phillippe Diederich. Cinco Puntos (Consortium, dist.), $16.95 (232p) ISBN 978-1-941026-29-8

A severed head in the town square is the first sign of trouble in the small Mexican town of Izayoc, where new money is moving in with bloody force. As this grim murder mystery unfolds, 13-year-old Boli and his best friend Mosca become reliant on a luchador named Chicano, a masked wrestler working the amateur circuit, as a real-life hero and protector after Boli's parents go missing, and the body count mounts. The boys' lost innocence is represented with a game of marbles, which dovetails and overlaps with the disillusionment and loss of the entire community, Chicano's transformation from caped crusader to mere man as he ditches the affectations of his theatrical profession, and a host of new responsibilities for Boli, including helping to run the family business and care for a grandmother whose mind is slipping. The narration and dialogue are shot through with Spanish words and phrases, readily discernable through context, and also collected in a glossary. Diederich (Sofrito) portrays Mexico with a stark intensity and raw emotional turmoil as Boli navigates a mercilessly cruel world. Ages 12–up. Agent: Stephany Evans, Fineprint Literary Management. (Mar.)

Reviewed on 02/12/2016 | Details & Permalink

show more
Me and Miranda Mullaly

Jake Gerhardt. Viking, $16.99 (256p) ISBN 978-0-451-47540-4

Smart, talented, and socially conscious eighth grader Miranda Mullaly has no idea that classmates Sam, Duke, and Chollie all have crushes on her. She's too wrapped up in the boyfriend they don't know about. Each boy attempts to win Miranda's heart by vying to become her lab partner, trying out for the school musical, being on student council, and hoping to impress her at the Valentine's Day dance. Their competition peaks during an ill-timed snow battle while shoveling at Miranda's house. It's an amusing rivalry premise told from the three boys' perspectives, with occasional emails and writing assignments providing insights into Miranda. Unfortunately, first-time author Gerhardt's characters are rather two-dimensional: Duke is a short-tempered caricature of nerdiness (who sounds like a grumpy old man using words like "rapscallion" and "hooligans"), while Sam is a typically clueless class clown who knows nothing about girls his age. Luckily, there's good-natured jock Chollie, who may not always say or do the right thing, but who gives the story its emotional heart. Ages 10–up. Agent: Daniel Lazar, Writers House. (Jan.)

Reviewed on 02/12/2016 | Details & Permalink

show more
Dreambender

Ronald Kidd. Albert Whitman, $16.99 (256p) ISBN 978-0-8075-1725-3

This surprisingly upbeat dystopian tale may remind many readers of Lois Lowry's The Giver, with which it shares several significant plot points. Thirteen-year-old Callie Crawford is a "computer," a mathematician living in the post-apocalyptic City, dedicated to avoiding the high-tech hubris that led to the Warming and the fall of civilization. Jeremy Finn is a "dreambender," a psychic dream therapist who enters the dreams of City residents and manipulates them, turning them away from thoughts or actions that might endanger the City's fragile ecological balance. When Jeremy is assigned to Callie's dreams and ordered to end her potentially disruptive love of music, he finds that he can't do it. Jeremy compounds his crime by directly contacting Callie, something that is strictly forbidden, and the two children soon wind up on the run. Alternating between Callie and Jeremy's first-person perspectives, Kidd (Night on Fire) tells an enjoyable story that features both appealing protagonists and well-presented ideas about the importance of creativity and following one's dreams. Ages 9–12. Agent: Alec Shane, Writers House. (Mar.)

Reviewed on 02/12/2016 | Details & Permalink

show more
Jacky Ha-Ha

James Patterson and Chris Grabenstein, illus. by Kerasco%C3%ABt. Little, Brown/Jimmy Patterson, $13.99 (384p) ISBN 978-0-316-26249-1

Seventh grader Jacky Hart has been the class clown ever since classmates laughed at her stutter back in elementary school. "What's so wrong with wanting to be liked?" she wonders. Now "Jacky Ha-Ha" can't break out of her routine, even though her rudeness and pranks earn her numerous detentions. With her mother serving in Operation Desert Shield (the story is set on the Jersey Shore in 1990) and her father mysteriously absent most nights, Jacky is left without much guidance. Could a dynamic new English teacher help redirect Jacky's need to perform? The story is stuffed with page-turning pranks and social and family drama (Jacky is one of six sisters), and the swoopy b&w cartoons from Kerascoët, a pseudonym for French artists Marie Pommepuy and Sébastian Cosset, only add to Jacky's untamed energy. Framed as a successful comedy writer looking back on her wild 12th year, the novel is sure to amuse and encourage readers who don't have it all figured out just yet. Ages 8–12. Author's agent: (for Patterson) Robert Barnett, Williams & Connolly; (for Grabenstein) Eric Myers, Spieler Agency. Illustrator's agent: Kirsten Hall, Catbird Agency. (Mar.)

Reviewed on 02/12/2016 | Details & Permalink

show more
Dear Pope Francis: The Pope Answers Letters from Children Around the World

Pope Francis. Loyola, $18.95 (76p) ISBN 978-0-8294-4433-9

Gathered from more than 250 submissions, 30 letters from children to Pope Francis are answered in a picture book that feels akin to sitting in on a series of intimate conversations. The letters, hand-written and illustrated, are reproduced on left-hand pages, along with English translations and photos of each child; the pope's answers appear opposite. The questions can be theologically intense ("If God loves us so much... why didn't he defeat the devil?"), deeply personal (Ivan, a 13-year-old from China, asks whether his non-Catholic grandfather will go to heaven), or casual and blunt ("You are not very young anymore," begins one from Dutch twins Hannes and Lidewij). The answers are rarely simple, but the pope writes respectfully and honestly, often invoking larger spiritual and social concepts (questions about soccer and dancing get answers involving teamwork and joy). The injustices of the present are often represented, as well: "In today's world there is so much suffering. And, unfortunately, you know that firsthand," Francis writes to a Syrian boy, Mohammed. It's a uniquely candid project that reveals the curiosities, dreams, and insecurities of contemporary children and offers comfort and advice from a Catholic perspective. Ages 6–up. (Mar.)

Reviewed on 02/12/2016 | Details & Permalink

show more
The Sound of All Things

Myron Uhlberg, illus. by Ted Papoulas. Peachtree, $17.95 (36p) ISBN 978-1-56145-833-2

Based on Uhlberg's childhood as the hearing son of two deaf parents, this picture book follows a family through a day in 1930s Coney Island. Opening as father and son plummet "down the shaking mountain" of a roller coaster, the story exudes familial tenderness as the boy and his parents stroll the boardwalk, gaze at the ocean, and eat at their favorite Chinese restaurant. Throughout the day, the boy's father asks him to describe the sounds he cannot hear—a ritual that annoys the boy occasionally, but that he grows to appreciate, especially after he discovers a book of poetry at the library, full of verbal imagery he can share with his father. Painted in lush acrylic and gouache, newcomer Papoulas's illustrations are a love letter to Coney Island at its heyday, the period clothing and gleaming buildings placing readers in the thick of the crowds. While the exchanges between father and son form the heart of the story, Uhlberg (A Storm Called Katrina) also describes, sensitively and powerfully, how the man uses all of his senses to better understand sound. Ages 6–10. (Mar.)

Reviewed on 02/12/2016 | Details & Permalink

show more
The Tree in the Courtyard: Looking Through Anne Frank's Window

Jeff Gottesfeld, illus. by Peter McCarty. Knopf, $17.99 (40p) ISBN 978-0-385-75397-5

Gottesfeld (Anne Frank and Me) imagines that a massive horse chestnut tree, with leaves like "green stars," was a stalwart, loving observer of Anne Frank as she hid with her family for two years (the afterword notes that the tree is mentioned three times in The Diary of a Young Girl). The tree watches through an attic window as Anne fills the pages of her red-and-white diary and has her first kiss; when the family is taken away, the tree keeps vigil for them season after season. Writing with a quiet lyricism, Gottesfeld portrays the tree as never understanding why the family has to stay inside, or the forces that swept them away, which makes it a poignant surrogate for readers who are themselves coming to grips with happened to Anne and all the Jews who perished in the Holocaust. McCarty's (Bunny Dreams) sepia drawings, somber tableaus textured like fine engravings, convey the seriousness and sadness of the story, though perhaps less of Anne's exuberant personality. Ages 5–8. Author's agent: Jason Yarn, Paradigm Talent Agency. Illustrator's agent: Gotham Group. (Mar.)

Reviewed on 02/12/2016 | Details & Permalink

show more
How to Be Famous

Michal Shalev. Gecko Press USA (Lerner, dist.), $16.99 (32p) ISBN 978-1-7765-7029-4

An egocentric pigeon regales readers with stories about how famous and beloved it is, though newcomer Shalev's pictures suggest otherwise. "I am a famous model," the pigeon declares, perched on the entrance to a zoo. "People come from all over the world to take pictures of me," it continues, striking a pose on the trunk of an irate-looking elephant that is the actual object of visitors' attention. Shalev's illustrations mark her as a talent to watch. Vigorous crimson lines help delineate her characters and settings, and while the text is limited to the pigeon's megalomaniacal monologue, the irritation the bird leaves in its wake is abundantly evident in the images, whether it's an adult male looking up in dismay as the bird leaves its "autograph" on his shirtsleeve or the barely constrained hatred three flamingos direct at the pigeon as it reclines languidly on one of their backs. Personality-wise, Shalev's pigeon could give Mo Willems's renowned bird a run for his money—were it not for an ending that sees this bird confidently striding into the mouth of a lion, suggesting that a sequel is unlikely. Ages 3–6. (Mar.)

Reviewed on 02/12/2016 | Details & Permalink

show more
Leaps and Bounce

Susan Hood, illus. by Matthew Cordell. Disney-Hyperion, $16.99 (32p) ISBN 978-1-4231-5234-7

The team behind 2013's Rooting for You returns with another motivation-minded, pun-titled story for those in the midst of growing up. Instead of an underground seed blossoming into a flower, this book opens underwater, where clusters of eye-shaped eggs float amid the marshy plants: "Who's there inside?/ What will you be?/ Spring has sprung/ a mystery!" Only the very youngest readers won't be able to identify the tadpoles that later burst from the eggs and eventually sprout legs, developments underscored by Hood's recurring assertion that "changes come to all who grow." Cordell's squiggly cartooning is well suited to the tadpoles' youthful energy, and appearances from newts, egrets, and other animals give a hint of the frogs' broader environment. Multiple horizontal gatefolds add a touch of drama, and the enthusiasm in Hood's rhymes is unflagging, and she even manages to rhyme "amphibians" with "shenanigans." The idea that physical growth and development bring new opportunities and adventures comes across loud and clear. Ages 3–5. Author's agent: Brenda Bowen, Sanford J. Greenburger Associates. Illustrator's agent: Rosemary Stimola, Stimola Literary Studio. (Mar.)

Reviewed on 02/12/2016 | Details & Permalink

show more
X
Stay ahead with
Tip Sheet!
Free newsletter: the hottest new books, features and more
X
X
X
Email Address

Password

Log In Lost Password

PW has integrated its print and digital subscriptions, offering exciting new benefits to subscribers, who are now entitled to both the print edition and the digital editions of PW (online or via our app). For instructions on how to set up your accout for digital access, click here. For more information, click here.

The part of the site you are trying to access is now available to subscribers only. Subscribers: to set up your digital subscription with the new system (if you have not done so already), click here. To subscribe, click here.

Email pw@pubservice.com with questions.

Not Registered? Click here.