cover image Look Both Ways: A Tale Told in Ten Blocks

Look Both Ways: A Tale Told in Ten Blocks

Jason Reynolds, illus. by Alexander Nabaum. Atheneum, $17.99 (208p) ISBN 978-1-4814-3828-5

Reynolds (the Track series) packs the 10 blocks surrounding multiple schools with 10 relatable slice-of-life stories that start after school ends, each beginning with a black-and-white drawing by Nabaum. An overlapping cast of black characters populates the tales as they experience the tribulations of familial love (“Ookabooka Land”), fears (“Satchmo’s Master Plan”), first crushes (“How a Boy Becomes a Grease Fire”), near-death experiences (“The Broom Dog”), and more. Among the most memorable of these stories are “The Low Cuts Strike Again,” about a group of free-lunch students who are all children of cancer survivors (and rock low-cut haircuts in solidarity); “Skitter Hitter,” about Pia Foster, skateboarder extraordinaire, her deceased expert skateboarder sister Santi, and the boys who bully them about their skill; and “Call of Duty,” which portrays one hopeful, compassionate outcome of standing up against homophobic bullying. In Reynolds’s signature style, each story rings with emotional authenticity and empathy, and not a small amount of rib-tickling humor offsets the sometimes bittersweet realities of the characters’ lives. Ages 10–14. Agent: Elena Giovinazzo, Pippin Properties. [em](Oct.) [/em]