cover image Strangeville School Is Totally Normal (Strangeville School #1)

Strangeville School Is Totally Normal (Strangeville School #1)

Darcy Miller, illus. by Brett Helquist. Random House, $16.99 (256p) ISBN 978-0-593-30950-6

From games of dodgeball that employ bowling balls to cafeteria meatloaf that sports a black hole and ominous mentions of a third-floor supply closet, Strangeville is indeed the most bizarre school that new student Harvey Hill has attended. And the fifth grader, who reads as white, has attended his share—four in the past four years due to a secret that makes new friendships a challenge. Harvey’s guide, budding reporter and prickly classmate Stella Cho, cued as of Korean descent, sees nothing odd about their school and wants desperately to find a big story. But when the supply closet begins to speak to Harvey, and Stella discovers the secret, which certainly qualifies as a scoop, Harvey must face his fears and learn to speak up. Miller (Margot and Mateo Save the World) employs an aside-heavy third-person narrative that ups the laughs, while Harvey and Stella’s relatable struggles and growth ground the absurdity. Final illustrations by Helquist (Cezanne’s Parrot) not seen by PW. Ages 8–12. Author’s agent: Carrie Hannigan, HG Literary. Illustrator’s agent: Steven Malk, Writers House. (Dec.)