cover image Growing Pangs

Growing Pangs

Kathryn Ormsbee, illus. by Molly Brooks. Random House, $20.99 (256p) ISBN 978-0-5933-0131-9

Rising sixth grader Katie can sometimes feel like a “weirdo homeschooled kid,” except when with best friend Kacey, with whom she attends a homeschool co-op and shares a love of Annie. But when the pals leave for sleepaway camp, Katie experiences increasingly anxious thoughts and a heightened “buzzing feeling in my brain,” conveyed visually as a large bee that compels her to complete tasks: “You gotta make your worries stop. Move that zipper.” Ormsbee (Candidly Cline) juggles competing plot threads that contribute to Katie’s intrusive concerns: new friendships that awaken misgivings and joy in Katie and jealousy in Kacey, fears about a potential tongue surgery, and an awareness of her adolescent appearance, including pimples and a new haircut. In thick, angular brushstrokes, Brooks (the Sanity & Tallulah series) renders the white protagonists with simplified features and a warm palette. Tracing Katie’s earnest tack to navigating friendships old and new, her growing interest in the theater, and a burgeoning understanding of her obsessive compulsive disorder—detailed respectfully throughout—the creators lend flashback-level realism to a story of one child’s world growing larger with age and experience. Secondary characters are racially diverse; back matter discusses Ormsbee’s and Brooks’s experiences growing up with OCD. Ages 8–12. Author’s agent: Beth Phelan, Gallt & Zacker Literary. Illustrator’s agent: Sara Crowe, Pippin Properties. (May)