series. Sixth-grader Tori Taylor’s close-knit group of friends has avoided being
bullied by mean girl Kylie and her minions, the Pack. Until now. When Kylie
picks on new student Ginger, Tori can’t
remain a bystander, even if Tori’s best
friend Ophelia begs her to avoid trouble.
Teachers appear clueless about the subtle-ties of girl-on-girl bullying. Predictably,
Kylie turns on Tori, too, but Tori and her
friends have an advocate outside of school.
Lydia, who works for Tori’s father and is a
little person, helps them develop practical
methods—and use prayer—to remain
true to who they are while facing persecution. The writing can be clunky and
sometimes tries too hard to sound like the
voice of a 12-year-old girl (“So I was starting the day with a bad ’tude”), and the
story reads like a case study in a tween
psychology book, demonstrating strategies for real life. Still, the unfolding drama ought to engage readers. Ages 8–12.
Agency: Alive Communications. (May)
What Is Hidden
Lauren Skidmore. Cedar Fort/Sweetwater,
$16.99 trade paper (288p) ISBN 978-1-4621-
Debut author Skidmore offers a roman-
tic fantasy full of mystery and mistaken
identity, set in the imaginary king-
dom of Venesia. Everyone in
Venesia wears a mask that indicates
his or her station in life. Evie’s mask
sets her apart as an artisan; like her
father, she is a mask maker by trade.
When Evie’s father is killed in a fire
at their studio, the criminal who
sets the fire also brands Evie with a
mark that identifies her as a part of
his criminal band, thus putting her
life in danger. She then goes into
hiding and turns to her friend Aiden for
help bringing the arsonist to justice. As
Aiden’s identity is slowly revealed, Evie’s
relationship with him moves from friend-
ship to love. But will their true identities
prevent them from finding lifelong hap-
piness together? Crisp dialogue and quick
pacing propel the story, a riff on
Cinderella, to an action-filled ending.
Filled with gossiping servants, palace in-
trigue, and masquerading royal personag-
es, this novel will appeal to romance and
fantasy fans. Ages 12–up. (May) ■
parents and teachers including new words,
suggested activities, and recommended
websites. An informative and engaging
introduction with interfaith application.
Ages 3–5. (May)
★ Never Say a Mean Word Again:
A Tale from Medieval Spain
Jacqueline Jules, illus. by Durga Yael
Bernhard. Wisdom Tales, $16.95 (32p) ISBN
Inspired by a legend about a Jewish vizier who advised the Muslim ruler of medieval Spain, this story tells of a conundrum faced by a boy named Samuel and
the counterintuitive wisdom of his father,
the vizier. After Samuel accidentally offends Hamza, the tax collector’s son, and
incurs endures his rage (“Donkey Brain!
Stupid! Look what you did!”), Samuel’s
father instructs him, “Make sure Hamza
never says a mean word to you again.”
With illuminating details—such as the
boys’ headwear, backdrops of thick stone
walls or heavy wooden doors, geometric
patterns in mauves and browns, and a
vine and flower motif—Bernhard’s
(Around the World in One Shabbat) illustrations convey an elegant, multicultural
castle environment. Energy and movement infuse the paintings, which humorously render
Samuel’s contemplated strategies
(“Maybe he could
train a monkey to
sit on Hamza’s
clamp Hamza’s lips
shut”). Jules’s (the
Zapato Power series) down-to-earth
narrative communicates Samuel’s subtle
internal transformation as the unexpected, amusing, and touching outcomes of
his attempts to obey his father turn a
power struggle into a budding friendship.
Ages 4–8. Illustrator’s agency: Herman
So Not Okay
Nancy Rue. Thomas Nelson, $9.99 trade paper (256p) ISBN 978-1-4003-2370-8
The prolific Rue follows her Lily, Lucy,
and Sophie series for middle-graders with
this first book in the Mean Girl Makeover
how Christians and Jews celebrate harvest.
Nason (Visiting a Mosque) combines short
written descriptions with photographs
and other illustrations on pages tinted
with washes of pastel colors. A spread dedicated to “Harvest thanks,” for example,
includes several photos: a close-up of sunflower seeds, a girl watering plants, a boy
adding soil, a tractor plowing a field, and
birds flying against a sunset. A drawing of
a basket filled with produce appears beside
the text, “What would you say thanks
for?” Along a yellow ribbon at bottom run
words in a vocabulary list: “harvest, thank
you, God, believe, water, soil.” The
“Harvest festival” page depicts children in
front of a church sanctuary decorated with
grapes, bread, and flowers, while the
Sukkot pages show sukkahs from outside
and inside, with information and questions. Ten aspects of harvest-related celebrations are treated on full-spread pages,
while back matter gives information for
Lily the Unicorn Dallas Clayton. Harper, Apr.
May the Stars Drip Down Jeremy Chatelain,
illus. by Nikki McClure. Abrams, Mar.
Peggy: A Brave Chicken on a Big Adventure
Anna Walker. Clarion, Mar.
The Promise Nicola Davies, illus. by Laura Carlin.
Winston & George John Miller, illus. by Giuliano
Cucco. Enchanted Lion, Mar.
Alien Encounter Charise Mericle Harper. Holt/
Breakfast Served Anytime Sarah Combs.
★ The Chance You Won’t Return Annie Cardi.
Curiosity Gary Blackwood. Dial, Apr.
Dear Killer Katherine Ewell. HarperCollins/ Tegen,
Dorothy Must Die Danielle Paige. Harper, Apr.
My Life with the Walter Boys Ali Novak.
Sourcebooks Fire, Mar.
Rebel Belle Rachel Hawkins. Putnam, Apr.
Summer on the Short Bus Bethany Crandell.
Running Press, Apr.