swim team by Johnnie Noel; HarperAlley, 245 pages (softcover $12.99) Ages 8-12.
A girl overcomes her fear of the water to join her new school’s Florida swim team in this sparkling debut from graphic novelist Johnnie Christmas, author of the sci-fi series Tartarus and co-creator of the series ” Angel Catbird” with Margaret Atwood.
Bree, a math whiz, grew up in Brooklyn and never learned to swim, secretly believing “black people aren’t good at swimming.” When she arrives at Enith Brigitha Middle School (named after the first black woman to win an Olympic medal in swimming), she is displeased to find that the Math Puzzles elective is full and the only elective that fits her schedule is Swim 101. Her neighbor Etta, a former competitive swimmer, saves her from drowning and agrees to teach her how to swim, encouraging her by explaining the history of segregation which has limited access for Blacks at beaches and swimming pools.
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Christmas offers marvelous and animated panels that bring its engaging characters to life as well as thrilling swim team action, college friendship drama, and suspense in the form of competition with snobby private school girls. elite Holyoke Prep with its superior resources. “The swimming team” is a winner.
The Silence That Binds Us by Joanna Ho; HarperTeen, 448 pages (14 to 18 years old).
Joanna Ho, the daughter of immigrants from Taiwan and China and author of the picture book “Eyes that Kiss in the Corners,” makes an impressive college debut with this gripping novel about an Asian-American family caught in racist crossfire after enduring an unspeakable tragedy.
Aspiring writer Maybelline Chen has a strained relationship with her mother, but adores her older brother Danny, a basketball star and notable scholar. The family is devastated when Danny commits suicide right after being admitted to Princeton. Her parents are unwilling to discuss Danny’s death, and May is left on her own to deal with her grief and guilt over not realizing her brother was struggling with depression.
His family’s tragedy becomes a public spectacle when a white tech billionaire blames Danny’s death and other suicides in their California town on “tiger parents” and Asian Americans who pressure their children to they excel. Against her parents’ wishes, May responds with an eloquent poem printed in the newspaper, sparking an intense backlash, including racist comments online, a threat to her mother’s job, and negativity from some members of the Asian-American community. who believe talking only makes things worse.
May finds unexpected allies in her efforts to change the narrative in the novel’s rousing finale.
The first space cat ate pizza book 1 by Mac Barnett & Shawn Harris; Katherine Tegen Books, 310 pages ($15.99) Ages 8-12.
A bio-engineered cat must save the moon from being devoured by an evil Rat King in this hilarious graphic novel – the first in a series – from childhood best friends Mac Barnett and Shawn Harris, adapted from the video series live cartoon show that has been a hit on Instagram.
This loud entertainment with its uninterrupted wacky action, clever puns and hilarious touches will appeal to the target age group and parents as read aloud for young children. An entomology professor lectures on how “the moon also governs moth behavior” when moths invade the classroom and chew the cashmere sweater right on his body. A worm reads a poem: “O miracle! A living worm! How do you breathe, excrete and squirm? just before a bird catches him. The rat attack on the moon alarms the army, housed at “L’Hexagone”, where the general, all in white, and a scientist named Dr. Milksop discuss their options. The marvelous artwork is especially hilarious depicting the man on the moon.
There’s a chapter called Fancy Feast, a computer robot invented to cut toenails, and a spaceship with a hanging garden, sleep pod, arcade, infinity track, and “panoramic galaxy views.” The canteen offers a wacky international menu of dishes in tubes: flan, oxtail soup, jelly donuts, fish & chips, poutine, pho, banana split, even pizza.
This is perfect for fans of the Wimpy Kid books by Dav Pilkey and Jeff Kinney.