64 Booklist August2017 www.booklistreader.com
the track runners in it, and—without ever
feeling like a book about “issues”—it deftly
tackles topics like isolation, diverse family
makeup, living with illness, losing a parent,
transcending socioeconomic and racial barriers, and—perhaps best of all—what it’s like
for a tween to love their little sister more than
all the cupcakes in the world. The second entry in the four-book Track series, this serves
as a complete, complex, and sparkling stand-alone novel. —Becca Worthington
HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: Ghost
(2016), the semiprequel, was a National Book
Award finalist, and this ought to perpetuate
Reynolds’ hot streak.
The Purloining of Prince
By Mark Twain and Philip C. Stead. Illus.
by Erin Stead.
Sept. 2017. 160p. Doubleday, $24.99 (9780553523225).
This beautiful book began as a story that
Twain told his daughters Clara and Suzy in
1879. Perhaps hoping to expand it, Twain
subsequently took 16 pages of notes that lay
unread for more than 100 years until they were
discovered in the Mark Twain Archives. They
form the foundation of the yarn that Philip C.
Stead helps spin. Sprightly and—in the spirit
impoverished young boy named Johnny who
is given a handful of magic seeds by an old
woman. He plants one and when it has blos-
somed, he eats its flower
and discovers he can talk
to animals! One of them, a
skunk named Suzy, quickly
becomes his friend. Accom-
panied by all the animals of
the land, they go on a quest
to find the missing Prince
Oleomargarine. The con-
ceit of this charming oddity is that it is being
told to Stead by Twain himself, who makes a
guest appearance in scattered interludes. The
book is hugely enhanced by the exquisite il-
lustrations that Caldecott-winning Erin Stead
has created. Rendered in wood carving, ink,
pencil, and a laser cutter, they range from little
vignettes to lavish double-page spreads set off
by generous amounts of white space. The result
is a gift to the eye. Samuel Langhorne Clemens
himself would be proud. —Michael Cart
Race to the Bottom of the Sea.
By Lindsay Eagar.
Oct. 2017. 432p. Candlewick, $17.99 (9780763679231).
Hoist your sails for an unforgettable high-seas
adventure in Eagar’s second novel, which swaps
the magic realism of Hour of the Bees (2016)
for science and piracy. Eleven-year-old Fidelia
Quail is a shark-obsessed
heartily encouraged by her
marine scientist parents.
Her life verges on idyllic
until a storm triggered by
the Undertow—a deadly
shift in ocean currents—
takes the lives of the Drs.
Quail. Heartbroken, Fidelia prepares to move
in with her librarian aunt, but while packing,
she is kidnapped by the most notorious pirate on the nine seas: Merrick the Monstrous.
Knowing the Quails’ reputation for aquatic exploration, he makes off with Fidelia, who he
needs to retrieve a precious treasure from the
seafloor. She’s terrified, yes, but her curiosity
and scientific reasoning soon kick in, and she
realizes that there’s more to Merrick and this
quest than meets the eye. Instantly immersive,
Eagar’s novel never lags or loses heart, and it’s
irresistibly baited with a cursed treasure hoard,
danger, and candy. Flashback chapters fill in
important backstory on Merrick, and readers
will adore Fidelia for the passionate and clever
heroine she is. Refreshingly, women are as likely to captain a ship as plunder it in this fictional
world, a small but enriching detail. Earnest
and exciting, this swashbuckling voyage of self-discovery sparkles even when threatened by the
stormiest seas. —Julia Smith
The Vanderbeekers of 141st Street.
By Karina Yan Glaser.
Oct. 2017. 304p. HMH, $16.99 (9780544876392); e-book, $16.99 (9781328829023). Gr. 3–6.
As Tolstoy wrote, “All happy families are
“Kids, and the rest of the world,
need more books like this one.”*
c“Captures the tumultuous joys and pains of middle school with honesty,
creating characters with whom readers will find common ground and insight.”
—Publishers Weekly (starred review)
c“Anderson dives into the world of middle school with a clear sense
of how it works and what it needs.”
—Kirkus Reviews (starred review)*
c“Written with understated humor and fine-tuned
perception. A riveting story.” —Booklist (starred review)
Also available as an audiobook
Tr 978-0-06-233820-4 • $16.99