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Let Your Voice Be Heard: The Life and Times of Pete Seeger

Anita Silvey. Clarion, $17.99 (112p) ISBN 978-0-547-33012-9

In her admiring portrait of Pete Seeger (1919–2014), Silvey (Untamed: The Wild Life of Jane Goodall) presents clearly the folk singer and activist’s passionate commitment to music and social justice. After a privileged upbringing and two years at Harvard, Seeger “acquired an encyclopedic repertoire of folk songs” while working at the Archive of American Folk Song. He began playing banjo with Woody Guthrie in 1940 and devoted his life to singing for causes he considered just: organized labor, civil rights, and environmental and antiwar campaigns. After establishing Seeger’s success as a singer, Silvey devotes a chapter to his commitment to the environment (specifically, cleaning up the Hudson River), then jumps from the early 1970s to the 2009 inauguration of President Obama. Silvey provides well-supported, well-rounded context for Seeger’s moral stances, personal life (including his wife’s supportive role as his manager), and enduring claim to folk-song fame with such influential contributions as “Abiyoyo,” “Where Have All the Flowers Gone?” “Guantanamera,” “Michael, Row Your Boat Ashore,” and “We Shall Overcome.” Archival photographs, source notes, and a bibliography are included. Ages 10–12. (Aug.)

Reviewed on 05/27/2016 | Details & Permalink

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She Stood for Freedom: The Untold Story of a Civil Rights Hero, Joan Trumpauer Mulholland

Loki Mulholland and Angela Fairwell, illus. by Charlotta Janssen. Shadow Mountain, $17.99 (40p) ISBN 978-1-62972-176-7

A son pays tribute to his mother in this picture book biography of civil rights activist Joan Trumpauer Mulholland. The younger Mulholland, who previously produced a documentary about his mother’s activism, pairs with Fairwell to highlight key moments in Joan’s fight against racism. From an early age, Southern-born Joan, who is white, sensed the injustices African-Americans were suffering. “When Joan and Mary reached the black schoolhouse, Joan stopped and stared. It was not like the brand-new brick school for the white children.... Joan’s soul was rattled.” She participated in demonstrations and Freedom Rides, was arrested, attended an all-black college, and joined lunch-counter sit-ins. Janssen’s (The Secret of Three Butterpillars) evocative mixed-media collages tap into the turbulence of the events discussed; aqua, rust, and drab greens provide the only color, melding with photographs, drawings, maps, newspaper headlines, diary entries, and official documents. The clear, direct narrative contextualizes Joan’s actions within the larger movement while explaining words like segregation for young audiences. A brief civil rights timeline is included, and a middle grade edition of the book (with the same title) is available simultaneously. Ages 4–8. (Aug.)

Reviewed on 05/27/2016 | Details & Permalink

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Running Girl

Simon Mason. Scholastic/Fickling, $18.99 (432p) ISBN 978-1-338-03642-8

Garvie Smith, unmotivated high school genius, and Raminder Singh, a Sikh detective inspector, make for an oddly matched but highly entertaining detecting duo in Mason’s darkly comic whodunit. Despite his enviable brain and test scores, Garvie, 16, has the worst grades at Marsh Academy—he’d rather skip class and smoke with his friends, to the consternation of his mother. Then his former girlfriend Chloe Dow, the popular girl who everyone seemed to dislike, is pulled dead from a local pond, strangled. It’s a headline-grabbing case for Singh, who methodically explores all avenues, from Chloe’s strained family life to her not-so-secret partying. Garvie pursues his own investigation: he’s positive that, like everything else in his life, Chloe’s death is simply one big puzzle waiting to be solved with logic and reason, despite Singh repeatedly telling him to keep out of police business. Mason (Moon Pie) grounds the story in reality as Garvie grows to better understand that actions have real and sometimes permanent consequences, seamlessly melding British teen drama with a believable and suspenseful plot full of well-executed twists. Ages 14–up. Agent: Anthony Goff, David Higham Associates. (Aug.)

Reviewed on 05/27/2016 | Details & Permalink

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The Fixes

Owen Matthews. HarperTeen, $17.99 (528p) ISBN 978-0-06-233689-7

Matthews (How to Win at High School) again takes on the Breaking Bad–like descent of a once-innocent, rule-following teen. Eric Connelly is fed up with his boring life, with being closeted about his sexuality, and with listening to his senator father drone on about his future. A chance meeting with the wealthy, handsome Jordan provokes dizzying romantic fantasies, and soon Eric is partying hard and missing work to spend time with Jordan’s privileged crowd, which calls itself the “Suicide Pack.” Soon they are doing more than partying: they destroy priceless art and move on to felony theft and bomb-making, all in the name of “fixing” what’s wrong with their town. As Eric’s romantic hopes turn into reality, he sheds his hesitations around this escalating crime spree. Matthews’s cheeky, third-person, prose-poem style fuels the surreal feel of this larger-than-life story. Plot- and character-wise, Matthews is retreading his previous book somewhat, including a tendency to speak conspiratorially to readers, but those who enjoyed Adam’s story in How to Win at High School should have just as much fun with this wild ride, too. Ages 14–up. Agency: Donald Maass Literary. (Aug.)

Reviewed on 05/27/2016 | Details & Permalink

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The Thousandth Floor

Katharine McGee. HarperTeen, $18.99 (448p) ISBN 978-0-06-241859-3

In a confident debut, McGee creates a fascinating 22nd-century world set in a single thousand-floor mega-tower that houses all of Manhattan. Centering on the genetically flawless Avery Fuller, 16, who lives on the top floor and has everything a wealthy girl could want or need, McGee shifts smoothly among the intersecting stories of a handful of teens. Avery is always the most beautiful girl in the room, much to the chagrin of her best friend Leda, who is hiding a serious drug addiction. Meanwhile, Eris’s perfect life crumbles when she learns that her father is not her biological father and, therefore, she and her mother are penniless. Rylin, an orphan, takes a job as a maid for spoiled Cord Anderton, only to begin an uncertain courtship. Watt, a computer genius, creates an illegal “quant” named Nadia that helps him navigate the social structure of the tower. Replete with romance, jealousy, and enticing future fashions and tech, McGee’s story delivers more than enough drama and excitement to hook readers and leave them anticipating the next book in the trilogy. Ages 13–up. Agency: Alloy Entertainment. (Aug.)

Reviewed on 05/27/2016 | Details & Permalink

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All We Have Left

Wendy Mills. Bloomsbury, $17.99 (368p) ISBN 978-1-61963-343-8

The devastating events of 9/11 intertwine with the stories of Alia Susanto, a 16-year-old Muslim girl in Brooklyn, and Jesse McLaurin, a white 17-year-old who readers meet as she is spray-painting “terrorists go home” on the Islam Peace Center that is opening in her New York State town. In 2001, Alia explores her faith while dreaming of becoming a comic book author, culminating with a visit to the World Trade Center. In 2016, Jesse’s older brother, Travis, has been dead for 15 years; her family never learned why he was in one of the Twin Towers when they fell, and she feels helpless in the face of her parents’ enduring grief and anger. After the fallout from her act of vandalism, Jesse digs into what really happened to Travis, reaching some surprising and heartbreaking conclusions. Scenes of Alia and Travis attempting to escape the collapsing buildings are harrowing and realistic, highlighting bravery and courage against impossible odds. Mills (Positively Beautiful) movingly examines how easily pain can metastasize into hate, while demonstrating the power of compassion, hope, and forgiveness with equal force. Ages 13–up. Agent: Sarah Davies, Greenhouse Literary. (Aug.)

Reviewed on 05/27/2016 | Details & Permalink

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Wax

Gina Damico. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $17.99 (368p) ISBN 978-0-544-63315-5

Damico (Hellhole) delivers a deliriously off-the-wall tale of small-town horror, in which 17-year-old Poppy Palladino has to persuade her friends that key members of the community are being replaced by living wax duplicates, all part of a fiendish plot orchestrated by the mysterious owners of the town’s famous candle factory, “a wax-poured juggernaut of industry.” Poppy isn’t sure who to trust when neighbors and authorities alike start acting strangely; matters are further complicated when she gets a wax companion of her own, Dud, who looks like an ordinary teenage guy but literally knows nothing about the real world. Now they have to save Paraffin, Vt., from the invasion of the Hollow Ones before all that’s left of the townspeople are uniquely-scented candles at bargain prices. Poppy’s bone-dry sense of humor provides laughs throughout this creepy tale of body-snatchers (“Dud wasn’t capable of understanding the concept of nipples, much less love”), but the real strength of the story lies in Damico’s wholehearted commitment to her bizarre plot and its outlandish twists. Ages 12–up. Agent: Tina Wexler, ICM. (Aug.)

Reviewed on 05/27/2016 | Details & Permalink

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Gilded Cage

Lucinda Gray. Holt, $17.99 (256p) ISBN 978-1-62779-181-6

In this uneven rags-to-riches tale set in 1821, Virginia farm girl Katherine Randolph and her brother, George, travel to England after they inherit an estate. Walthingham Hall turns out to be a dangerous place, full of secrets, and after George drowns under suspicious circumstances, Katherine is left to untangle the clues as her allies are picked off one by one—she’ll either find the murderer or risk being deemed mad. Classism over cavorting with servants, strict punishments for those who disobey, and the frenzied fear of a fairy tale beast in the woods give this pseudonymously written story an air of gothic eeriness, but it falls short of its potential. For a scrappy, capable orphan, Katherine is surprisingly willing to leave behind everything she knows and enter into a society where women are powerless, even considering the inherited wealth. Plot twists abound, but the characters tend to be categorized as good, bad, or indifferent, with few surprises among them, and the ending ties up too neatly, with a knight-in-shining-armor on hand for a final sweeping rescue. Ages 12–up. (Aug.)

Reviewed on 05/27/2016 | Details & Permalink

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Don’t You Trust Me?

Patrice Kindl. S&S/Atheneum, $17.99 (256p) ISBN 978-1-4814-5910-5

From an early age, Morgan recognizes that she is a “cold one,” amoral and uninterested in anyone but herself. Even her parents grow afraid of her. En route to boarding school, the 15-year-old meets Janelle, a look-alike teen, whose parents are shipping her to relatives in Albany to put distance between her and an older boyfriend. Morgan seizes her chance to escape, helping Janelle sneak off with the boyfriend in exchange for the girl’s plane ticket to New York. Like all great con artists, Morgan has abundant confidence in herself and disdain for everybody else—she never worries that her new, rich relatives might suspect she’s not the real Janelle. Once embedded, Morgan makes friends (and a ton of money) passing off various charity scams as community service required for high school graduation. Readers who overlook a number of implausibilities (how are Morgan’s low-income parents able to afford boarding school?) will be swept up in a narrative driven by the high-stakes game Morgan is playing, wondering whether she will be smarter than she is greedy and if she’ll get away while she still can. Ages 12–up. Agent: Irene Goodman, Irene Goodman Agency. (Aug.)

Reviewed on 05/27/2016 | Details & Permalink

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The Assassin Game

Kirsty McKay. Sourcebooks Fire, $10.99 trade paper (320p) ISBN 978-1-4926-3275-7

Umfraville Hall, an exclusive boarding school on the windswept Welsh island of Skola, is an ideal setting for a mystery that takes a few cues from Agatha Christie’s And Then There Were None. The Assassins’ Guild, a secret society, is ready to start its annual game of Killer, and the rules are simple: one Killer is chosen, who may “kill” other members using “wacky-but-child-friendly” methods (“Death by gassing with a stink bomb in the common room. Death by ‘suffocation’ with a duct-taped duvet”). Sixteen-year-old Cate, newly initiated into the Guild, can’t wait to play Killer, but when her childhood friend Vaughan insinuates himself into the game, and the “kills” start getting out of hand, what should be harmless fun turns deadly serious. McKay (Undead) pokes a bit of fun at teen angst, using Cate’s wry voice to tell this twisty whodunit. Her narrow viewpoint intensifies the tension as she tries to stay ahead of the Killer, and although readers may guess the culprit before the final revelation, they probably won’t care, since it’s so much fun getting there. Ages 12–up. Agent: Allison Hellegers, Rights People. (Aug.)

Reviewed on 05/27/2016 | Details & Permalink

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