Loweriders in Space by Cathy Camper; Chronicle Books
Lupe Impala, El Chavo Flapjack, and Elirio Malaria love working with cars. You name it, they can fix it. But the team’s favorite cars of all are lowriders—cars that hip and hop, dip and drop, go low and slow, bajito y suavecito. The stars align when a contest for the best car around offers a prize of a trunkful of cash—just what the team needs to open their own shop! ¡Ay chihuahua! What will it take to transform a junker into the best car in the universe? Striking, unparalleled art from debut illustrator Raul the Third recalls ballpoint-pen-and-Sharpie desk-drawn doodles, while the story is sketched with Spanish, inked with science facts, and colored with true friendship. With a glossary at the back to provide definitions for Spanish and science terms, this delightful book will educate and entertain in equal measure.
Until the Day Arrives by Anna Marie Machado; Groundwood Books
A fast-moving middle-grade novel set in the 17th century about two Portuguese orphans who are sent to Brazil, where they encounter slaves from Africa. The novel opens when Bento is wrongly thrown into Lisbon’s prison, leaving his younger sibling, Manu, to fend for himself. Fortunately, a nobleman’s family reunites the siblings — although they will have be exiled to Brazil. They keep secret the fact that Manu is a girl in disguise so that she can accompany her brother aboard ship. The story shifts to the African savannah, where a young boy, Odjigi, is hunting gazelle with his father and other men. But the hunters are kidnapped by slave traders, as are the women and children of the village. In Brazil the siblings adapt to their new lives, but they are shocked by the treatment of African slaves. Manu befriends an aboriginal boy, Caiubi, and a slave, Didi, who has been separated from his father. Meanwhile Bento falls in love with Rosa, a beautiful young slave who is also searching for her family. When Manu learns about quilombos — villages hidden deep in the forest where slaves live in freedom — she is determined to help Didi and Rosa escape.
Caught Up by Amir Abrams; Kensington
School’s out and sixteen year-old Kennedy Simms is bored. That could be a recipe for disaster…
Good girls don’t go to real parties, like the ones in the hood. Or rock bangin’ clothes. Or stay out as long as they want. But I’m sick of my parents’ rules and being the perfect little boring suburban princess. It’s my life, right? I’ve decided to have some fun for a change, hitting the streets with my new bestie, Sasha. Best of all, my new gangsta-fine boo, Malik, knows how to treat me right, spoils me like I deserve, and is someone I can finally call my own. Sure, living the life and being with Malik is getting me into mad-crazy trouble. And if I don’t tell the truth about him, I could go to prison. But a good ride-or-die girl never snitches. And as long as my friends and my man stick by me, nothing can go wrong, right?
The Perfect Place by Teresa E. Harris; Clarion Books
Treasure’s dad has disappeared and her mom sets out to track him down, leaving twelve-year-old Treasure and her little sister, Tiffany, in small-town Virginia with their eccentric, dictatorial Great-Aunt Grace. GAG (as the girls refer to her) is a terrible cook, she sets off Treasure’s asthma with her cat and her chain smoking, and her neighbors suspect her in the recent jewel thefts. As the hope of finding their dad fades, the girls and their great-aunt begin to understand and accommodate one another. When a final dash to their dad’s last known address proves unsuccessful, Treasure has to accept that he’s gone for good. When she goes back to Great-Aunt Grace’s, it is the first time she has returned to a place instead of just moving on. Convincing, fully realized characters, a snarky narrative voice, and laugh-aloud funny dialogue make “The Perfect Place” a standout among stories of adjustment and reconfigured families.