cover image Mission One: The Vice Principal Problem (The Blue Stars #1)

Mission One: The Vice Principal Problem (The Blue Stars #1)

Kekla Magoon and Cynthia Leitich Smith, illus. by Molly Murakami. Candlewick, $22.99 (176p) ISBN 978-1-5362-0499-5

Estranged cousins—Riley Halfmoon, who is of Muscogee heritage, and bespectacled Maya Dawn, who is Black—reunite in Urbanopolis to live with their community-centered activist grandmother as they prepare to enter sixth grade. While adjusting, they both experience a few hiccups along the way. Extroverted Riley is eager to befriend her cousin, whom she hasn’t seen since early childhood. Reserved Maya, on the other hand, wants to maintain her privacy and focus on her inventions. When they learn that a lack of funding is jeopardizing beloved school activities, the cousins each run for class president. But nefarious vice principal Mr. Balderdash seems intent on stemming their efforts and landing them in detention. As it becomes clear that the cousins won’t accomplish anything on their own, Maya and Riley team up, Holmes and Watson style, to win the presidency, take down Mr. Balderdash, and save their school. Bustling slice-of-life plot beats by Magoon (Chester Keene Cracks the Code) and Smith (Harvest House), paired with animated art by debut illustrator Murakami, culminates in a realistically rendered and impeccably paced graphic novel series opener that accessibly highlights the importance of youth involvement in local politics. Ages 8–12. (Mar.)