The Midnight Brigade

Adam Borba, illus. by Adam Borba and Karl Kwasny. Little, Brown, $16.99 (240p) ISBN 978-0-316-54251-7
Carl Chesterfield loves his parents, his home of Pittsburgh, and the city’s 400 bridges—which the men on his father’s side have engineered for generations—but his shyness prevents him from speaking up much at home or at school. Since “few places remain for new bridges to be built,” Carl’s engineer father is stuck repairing them—lately, at a bizarrely high rate. Seeking “a new noble profession,” Carl’s dad spontaneously mortgages the family’s home to buy a rusty food truck and a spot of land under a bridge. While Carl’s ever-arguing parents navigate this decision’s financial fallout, Carl begins to notice that the increasing bridge damage looks to be the work of steel-hungry monsters. When confident principal’s son Teddy and vivacious Bee (cued as of Korean descent) team up with shy Carl, forming the Midnight Brigade, they meet Frank, a 25-foot-tall troll with a mysterious past involving bridge protection. Together, the four work to save Pittsburgh’s bridges and the food truck’s future. Carl’s parents are realistically flawed, and his mix of feelings around their constant fighting ring true as a candid third-person narrative follows the mostly presumed-white characters through Borba’s whimsical, sincere debut. Final art not seen by PW. Ages 8–12. Agent: Janine Kamouh, WME. (Sept.)

The text of this review has been edited to reflect updates to the final book.

Reviewed on : 07/14/2021
Release date: 09/07/2021
Genre: Children's
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