cover image The Science of Boys

The Science of Boys

Emily Seo, illus. by Gracey Zhang. Tradewind, $18.95 (256p) ISBN 978-1-926890-37-1

A nerdy Canadian teen blends real science principles with matchmaking in Seo’s low-key debut. Twelve-year-old aspiring scientist Emma Sakamoto, who cues as Japanese, is hoping to make a good impression on her first day of high school. Those hopes are dashed, however, when she accidentally bumps new student, white Poppy Sinclair, off the boardwalk and into the ocean. Things get even more complicated when Poppy befriends the two most popular girls in school; the girls relentlessly bully Emma, though Poppy declines to participate in the torment. When Emma learns about Poppy’s crush on Cole, an actor attending their school, Emma—hoping to repair her image—claims she’s written a book about the science of boys that will help Poppy win his affection. Based on questionable advice from Cole’s cousin, Emma concocts madcap schemes in the quest for Cole’s attention that provide laugh-out-loud humor, yet cause strain between Emma and her best friend. Told via homey-feeling prose, Seo’s story deftly portrays one teen’s struggles to juggle friendship woes, familial trials, and personal truths with fitting in, making for an earnest, low-stakes romp. Zhang’s illustrations, rendered in bold swathes of b&w ink, depict myriad scenes from Emma’s life, including an idyllic moment overlooking the ocean. Ages 12–up. (June)