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Who Loves Me?

David McPhail. Abrams Appleseed, $8.95 (20p) ISBN 978-1-4197-2577-7

A raccoon family stars in this tenderhearted companion to Ben Loves Bear, Bella Loves Bunny, and other board books. As Walter and his mother put together a blueberry pie, he asks her variations on the title’s question. Mama supplies several answers—Walter’s father loves him, as do his grandparents, pets, and friends—but there’s someone she isn’t mentioning. “There just has to be someone else who loves me!” Walter insists. McPhail’s paintings hum with subdued familial warmth, young readers will readily recognize who Mama has “forgotten,” and human mothers will appreciate the gentle game she’s playing and the way that she (like so many moms) puts herself last. Up to age 3. Agent: Faith Hamlin, Sanford J. Greenburger Associates. (Dec.)

Reviewed on 10/13/2017 | Details & Permalink

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Bad Princess: True Tales from Behind the Tiara

Kris Waldherr. Scholastic Press, $12.99 (128p) ISBN 978-1-338-04798-1

Having recounted the ill-fated lives of royal women for adult readers in Doomed Queens, Waldherr aims younger, spotlighting young women throughout history who were born or married into royal families. Illustrated with archival images and the author’s pink-washed portraits, the book presents a colorful roster of rebels, schemers, and victims of marriages that were arranged to “expand territories, forge empires, and strengthen political ties.” Waldherr compiles historical facts and legends in a conversational and often irreverent voice (“When Lucrezia [Borgia] turned thirteen she tied the knot at last! Husband #1 was Giovanni Sforza, a dude double her age”). Numerous pop culture allusions help put some of the stories in modern context but can be forced: the War of the Roses “at times resembled toddlers squabbling over a Happy Meal toy,” and Napoleon’s sister, Pauline, “might have been the Kendall Jenner of her day.” Sidebars offer insight into the evolution of fairy tales, the tradition of dowries, and the pressure to conform to changing beauty standards (“It seems we’ll still do anything to remain fairest in the land”). A cheeky roundup of royal tangles and scandals. Ages 9–12. (Jan.)

Reviewed on 10/13/2017 | Details & Permalink

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Streetcar to Justice: How Elizabeth Jennings Won the Right to Ride in New York

Amy Hill Hearth. Greenwillow, $19.99 (144p) ISBN 978-0-06-267360-2

Hearth (The Delany Sisters Reach High) draws on her journalism roots to carefully piece together the story of a mostly forgotten figure in the struggle for racial equality in the United States. African-American schoolteacher Elizabeth Jennings vehemently fought back when she was refused streetcar service in 1854 Manhattan; her victorious court case against the streetcar company helped integrate public transportation in New York. Hearth grounds Jennings’s story in vivid sensory detail: “she would have walked around piles of horse manure and maybe even the bloated remains of a dead animal or two.” Fifteen chapters pack in contextualizing information, often in sidebars, educating readers on topics ranging from Jim Crow laws and de facto segregation in the north to Jennings’s contemporaries Frederick Douglass and Chester Arthur (Jennings’s lawyer and future U.S. president). Archival photos, newspaper clippings, and resources that include a timeline of Jennings’s life (she founded the first kindergarten for black children in New York City) augment a book that belongs in any civil rights library collection. Ages 8–12. Agent: Mel Berger, William Morris Endeavor. (Jan.)

Reviewed on 10/13/2017 | Details & Permalink

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The Cruel Prince

Holly Black. Little, Brown, $18.99 (384p) ISBN 978-0-316-31027-7

When Jude Duarte was seven, she watched Madoc, general to the high king of Elfhame, slaughter her parents. Madoc then dragged Jude and her two sisters off to Faerieland, where he raised them as his own. Ten years later, Jude remains an outcast who is cruelly bullied by the other children of Faerie—the king’s youngest son, Prince Cardan, chief among them. Jude dreams of becoming a member of the High Court and the power that it confers, so when the opportunity arises for her to enter into the service of one of Cardan’s brothers, she seizes it, inadvertently placing herself at the center of a bloody coup and endangering the lives of everyone she loves. First in a trilogy, this spellbinding fantasy from Black (The Darkest Part of the Forest) reflects on the cost of ambition and explores the bomb-strewn border between love and hate. Breathtaking set pieces, fully developed supporting characters, and a beguiling, tough-as-nails heroine enhance an intricate, intelligent plot that crescendos to a jaw-dropping third-act twist. Ages 15–up. Agent: Barry Goldblatt, Barry Goldblatt Literary. (Jan.)

Reviewed on 10/13/2017 | Details & Permalink

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Nobody’s Goddess

Amy McNulty. Patchwork, $2.99 e-book (314p) ASIN B01LWYA52V

McNulty’s opening entry in the Never Veil series is a complex exploration of gender roles, romance, and stereotypes in a village where women are revered. Readers first meet Noll as a 12-year-old tomboy, angry that her male childhood friends are finding their “goddesses,” their true loves. Each goddess is destined to be loved by only one man, and males must remain masked from birth until his goddess “Returns” his love after she turns 17. To be seen without his mask by a woman who isn’t a blood relation means instant death. Noll chafes against these rules and despairs when her lifelong friend Jurij, whom she loves, finds his goddess in Noll’s sister. Just before Noll’s 17th birthday, the lord of the village finds his goddess in her, a situation neither party appreciates. The next months are a whirlwind of time-bending adventures that immerse readers in a maelstrom of plot twists and allusions to “Beauty and the Beast” and other fairy tale love stories, while Noll’s understanding of gender-based social and cultural dynamics develops. Books two and three are also available. Ages 14–up. (BookLife)

Reviewed on 10/13/2017 | Details & Permalink

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Meet Cute

Jennifer L. Armentrout et al. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $17.99 (320p) ISBN 978-1-328-75987-0

“This might be a love story, so I want to tell it the right way,” begins Nina LaCour’s entry in an anthology celebrating serendipitous run-ins that feel bigger than coincidence, in this case a customer-service-related flirtation between two teenage girls. Contributions from Huntley Fitzpatrick, Meredith Russo, Sara Shepard, Nicola Yoon, Ibi Zoboi, and others add to an enjoyable and diverse collection that never feels repetitive, despite the stories’ shared thematic underpinnings. Dhonielle Clayton offers a enticing fantasy in which a girl attempts to see the love that the gods have destined for her when a boy appears at her feet. Jennifer L. Armentrout’s playful “The Dictionary of You and Me” involves an overdue library book, and Jocelyn Davies charms with a tale about New York City junior Samara, who tries to quantify fate for a statistics project after a missed connection on the subway. The stories vary in genre, and although many involve love at first sight, others are about seeing someone in a new light. All 14 leave just enough magic and mystery to inspire readers to trust in a little bit of fate. An Alloy Entertainment property. Ages 14–up. (Jan.)

Reviewed on 10/13/2017 | Details & Permalink

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Love, Hate and Other Filters

Samira Ahmed. Soho Teen, $18.99 (288p) ISBN 978-1-61695-847-3

In an astute debut, Ahmed intertwines a multicultural teen’s story with a spare, dark depiction of a young terrorist’s act. High school senior Maya Aziz, a budding filmmaker, struggles with being the beloved and protected only child of Muslim immigrants from India while trying to live a “normal” American teenage life in Illinois and, more importantly, make her own decisions about her future. Stealthily defying her parents by applying to New York University and juggling appropriate and inappropriate love interests (all with the help of her maverick aunt), Maya finally gets up the courage to confront her parents when the terrorist’s actions unleash hatred on her and her family. Ahmed builds tension by preceding each chapter of Maya’s story with a terse paragraph leading to the imminent act of terror, then provides a startling twist; Maya’s final and uncharacteristic act of rebellion also comes as a surprise. The characters are fully dimensional and credible, lending depth to even lighter moments and interactions. Alternately entertaining and thoughtful, the novel is eminently readable, intelligent, and timely. Ages 14–up. Agent: Eric Smith, P.S. Literary. (Jan.)

Reviewed on 10/13/2017 | Details & Permalink

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Layover

Amy Andelson and Emily Meyer. Crown, $17.99 (272p) ISBN 978-1-5247-6487-6

The Barlow-Abernathys are headed toward divorce, and 15-year-old Flynn Barlow, her older stepbrother Amos, and their nine-year-old half-sister Poppy aren’t sure what this means for them. Things are even more complicated for Flynn and Amos, who once shared a romantic moment that neither can forget but both refuse to confront. During a layover at LAX, they decide to ditch their family Christmas vacation in Bora Bora and have a final hurrah as siblings. Relying on Flynn’s crush Neel to provide room and board, the three run around L.A. having a great time until real life intervenes: Poppy stops taking her anti-anxiety medication, Amos reconnects with his now-sober father, Flynn faces her debilitating stage fright, and their parents are coming to get them. In their first book for teens, the screenwriting duo of Andelson and Meyer look at the complexities of blended families and the relationships that can develop. Unfortunately, the quasi-romance between Flynn and Amos overshadows this story of siblings on the run. Ages 14–up. Agent: Lacy Lynch and Dabney Rice, Dupree Miller & Associates. (Feb.)

Reviewed on 10/13/2017 | Details & Permalink

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Before I Let Go

Marieke Nijkamp. Sourcebooks Fire, $17.99 (368p) ISBN 978-1-4926-4228-2

Nijkamp’s reflective examination on love and returning home pairs well with the haunting environment of Lost Creek, a tiny Alaskan town where strange things are known to happen. Corey and her family left Lost Creek seven months ago, and it’s been hard to leave behind her best friend, Kyra. Both girls grew up in Lost Creek, but Kyra’s mental illness drove a wedge between her and other residents, with Corey caught in the middle. Just before Corey’s planned trip back to Lost Creek, Kyra is found dead, leaving Corey just five days to uncover what happened and say goodbye to her friend. Told through a combination of flashbacks and present-day passages, this complex coming-of-age tale is hindered only by a repetitive fixation on Corey’s guilt and her musings on the concept of home. But this intense focus on Corey’s thoughts and feelings lets readers immerse themselves in her pain and her drive for answers; Nijkamp (This Is Where It Ends) has an uncommon talent for drawing readers deep into the psyches of her characters. Ages 14–up. Agent: Jennifer Udden, Barry Goldblatt Literary. (Jan.)

Reviewed on 10/13/2017 | Details & Permalink

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Someone to Love

Melissa de la Cruz. Harlequin Teen, $18.99 (352p) ISBN 978-0-373-21236-1

What people see when they look at 16-year-old Liv Blakely: the slim, pretty, and artistic daughter of a California congressman. What Liv thinks they see: a fat, unlovable screwup who doesn’t fit in with her family or at her posh Los Angeles high school, which is filled with models and actors. Since the part that seems easiest to fix is her weight, Liv fasts, binges, and purges in secret. When her controlling father announces that he’s running for governor and her handsome actor crush starts noticing her, the pressure amps up, and her life gets even more out of control. De la Cruz (Alex and Eliza) has a good handle on the details of eating-disordered behavior, particularly the disjunction between mindset and reality and having to hit bottom before getting help. Other plot points, though, particularly Liv’s inspirational chance meeting with her favorite artist and her relationship with a boyfriend who veers from unbelievably perfect to unbelievably awful, end up feeling more contrived than realistic. Ages 13–up. Agent: Richard Abate, 3 Arts Entertainment. (Jan.)

Reviewed on 10/13/2017 | Details & Permalink

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