52 Booklist April 15, 2017 www.booklistreader.com
accident—but she’s not speaking about any
of that. She and Henry tenuously restart their
friendship as Rachel works at the bookshop
Henry manages. Rachel catalogs the shop’s
most unique feature, the Letter Library,
which holds books with inscriptions, notes
slipped between pages, and years of correspondence between lovers and strangers. It’s a
project that, like the book itself, is bittersweet:
the bookshop is for sale, which could set
Henry on a path directly away from Rachel.
In Rachel’s and Henry’s alternating chapters,
interspersed with excerpts from the Letter Library, the mysteries of love, loss, death, and
missed connections are explored. As she did
in Graffiti Moon (2012), Crowley has built
a warm cast of surprising and memorable
characters and placed them in universal circumstances that slowly unfold into something
extraordinary. —Heather Booth
14 Hollow Road.
By Jenn Bishop.
June 2017. 288p. Knopf, $16.99 (9781101938751);
lib. ed., $19.99 (9781101938768); e-book, $16.99
(9781101938775). Gr. 5–7.
For Maddie, the sixth-grade dance means
time to hang with her best friend, Kiersten,
and a chance to dance with her crush, Avery. Sure, Kiersten’s been hanging out with
new girl Gabriella, but she and Maddie are
still best friends. Then Avery asks Gabriella
to dance, instead of Maddie. But that takes
a backseat when a tornado destroys both
Maddie’s house and Avery’s, and her dog
goes missing. Soon after, she finds herself living in the same house as Avery—all summer.
This might give him the chance to see her as
more than a friend, but she’s so mortified to
be sharing such close quarters that she can
barely talk to him. But as Maddie’s family recovers from the aftermath of the tornado, life
goes on. Bishop ( The Distance to Home, 2016)
nails the tween voice: Maddie is a realistic
heroine who deals with typical middle-grade
problems amid disaster, and she navigates
upheavals with occasional grace and more frequent missteps. Tornado or not, growing up
is a tempestuous business. —Maggie Reagan
By Benjamin Harper and Sarah Hines
Stephens. Illus. by Anoosha Syed.
May 2017. 304p. Imprint, $14.99 (9781250106612).
An invasion of holographic green monsters
not only sends the town of Oyster Cove into
a panic but touches off multiple shocks for so-
cially ostracized sixth-grader and insect-lover
Amanda. When Amanda sees long-retired lo-
cal superheroes Dragonfly and Megawoman
being kidnapped, she recognizes the two as
her own mom and the mom of her estranged
former best friend Emma. Stranger yet (but
to her, totally cool), Amanda suddenly ac-
quires antennae, an exoskeleton, and a host
of buggy traits. Before she can fly to the res-
cue, though, she needs to break through that
thick wall Emma has built between them—
and also acquire both a support squad and a
hot (but age-appropriate) costume. With oc-
casional visual backup from Syed, this tucks
both middle-school fashion advice and insect
facts into a tale that scuttles along to a wildly
destructive climactic battle. By story’s end,
Amanda and Emma are at least frenemies,
and Amanda has gotten better at the “whole
being-assertive thing.” For extra buzz, lurid
green borders frame the pages of this arch out-
ing. —John Peters
By Lauren Allbright.
June 2017. 176p. Aladdin, $16.99 (9781481479127).
If there’s one thing Ross is good at, it’s making an exit. He and his mom have moved
around his whole life (she’s a bassoonist for
a traveling orchestra), and at each school, he’s
gotten better at leaving. Sometimes, on his
first day in a new school, he’s already developing his “Exit-lence” plan. But when Pops has a
bad fall and needs assistance with his recovery,
Ross and his mom move in. Suddenly, it looks
like they might be staying put, and Ross is
stuck in a new middle school, trying to figure
out how to make friends and be funny, when
all he’s ever known before is how to leave. Although the exit strategy plot feels a bit flimsy,
the tale is told with skill, humor, and pathos.
There’s a funny through line about his school
science project—an analytical study on the
structure of humor, complete with graphs
and charts—which is a miserable failure during trial runs. A sweet and earnest story about
learning to stand still and taking a long, hard
look at who you are. —Becca Worthington
The Girl with the Ghost Machine.
By Lauren DeStefano.
June 2017. 224p. Bloomsbury, $16.99 (9781681194448).
For the past two years, 12-year-old Emma-line Beaumont’s father has been working day
and night in the basement on a ghost machine
intended to bring his wife back from the dead.
Emmy feels abandoned, until one night, in
anger, she flings her cup of tea into the machine’s mouth, and before she knows it, her
mother appears in the kitchen for a few brief
minutes. Without telling her father, Emmy
shares her experience with her closest friends,
twins Gully and Oliver, who decide they want
to test the machine. The problem is that after
a memory has been resurrected, it fades until it is gone forever. Oliver and Gully argue
the pros and cons of this, while Emmy begins
to believe losing a memory is a huge price to
pay for a fleeting visit. Discussions between
Emmy and the twins explore all sides of the
question of revivification, making them seem
more mature than expected at times. This
eerie book is perfect for readers looking for
something atmospheric, thought-provoking,
and out of the ordinary. —Jeanne Fredriksen
How to Be a Supervillain.
By Michael Fry.
May 2017. 288p. Little, Brown/JIMMY Patterson, $13.99
(9780316318693). Gr. 4–7.
Victor Spoil’s parents are a supervillain duo,
the infamous Spoil Sports. Unfortunately for
them, their son just doesn’t have an evil bone
in his body. He can’t even bring himself to
run with scissors! Fearing the worst for Victor,
his parents decide to hire retired villain The
Smear to take Victor on as an apprentice. As
The Smear begins to make a bit of a comeback, he and Victor come under the attention
of Dr. Deplorable, The Smear’s old teammate,
who wants him out of the picture, since he has
knowledge of Dr. D’s one weakness. While it
may seem wrong to cheer for a potential bad
guy, readers will learn, along with Victor, that
heroes and villains are two sides of the same
coin. Fry has written a hilarious story about
an unlikely hero and masterfully incorporates
the illustrations into the narrative, many of
which continue the text in an old-school,
newspaper-comic-strip format. Victor’s story
is sure to be a hit among reluctant readers and
fans of illustrated novels. —Lindsey Tomsu
I Am Fartacus.
By Mark Maciejewski.
Apr. 2017. 336p. Aladdin, $17.99 (9781481464208);
paper, $7.99 (9781481464192). Gr. 4–7.
Could one say a fart is the basis of a friendship? Well, Chub can. It’s how he became
friends with Moby, who—along with Shelby,
the McQueen triplets, and Sizzler—is helping
Chub take down Alanmoore Middle School’s
golden boy, Archer. This friend-turned-enemy
is essentially everything Chub is not: tall,
smugly suave, and popular. It then comes as
no surprise that Chub is short, bald, and a
trickster. While Archer has duped everyone
into thinking he’s a cool kid, Chub knows
something is up and is determined to expose
Archer for who he truly is. Chub’s revenge
cadre hits pay dirt when they learn that Archer
is entangled in an illegal poker ring and heavily indebted to its cheating 18-year-old leader.
But when they realize that more is on the line
than Archer’s middle-school rep, Chub has to
decide whether vengeance is really the right
course of action. Maciejewski’s humorous debut features themes of honesty and humor, as
well as well-developed characters, making this
sixth-grade drama a welcome addition to the
fiction shelves. —J. B. Petty
By Diane Stanley.
June 2017. 272p. Harper, $16.99 (9780062423702).
Eleven-year-old Joplin visits her reclusive
grandfather’s home after his death and chooses a memento to keep: a tin containing the
puzzlelike broken pieces of a Delftware platter. Reassembled and repaired, it features an
outdoor scene with a Dutch girl. Joplin idly
wishes that they could be friends. The next
day, she meets the same girl outdoors and
discovers that her image has magically disap-