Featuring graphic art by the illustrator of Edwidge Danticat’s My Mommy Medicine, a series debut by the Coretta Scott King Honor-winning author of The Parker Inheritance finds twins Maureen and Francine distinguishing themselves for the first time by pursing separate interests at the beginning of the sixth grade. Simultaneous and eBook. Illustrations. - (Baker & Taylor)
Coretta Scott King Honor author Varian Johnson teams up with rising cartoonist Shannon Wright for a delightful middle-grade graphic novel!
Maureen and Francine Carter are twins and best friends. They participate in the same clubs, enjoy the same foods, and are partners on all their school projects. But just before the girls start sixth grade, Francine becomes Fran -- a girl who wants to join the chorus, run for class president, and dress in fashionable outfits that set her apart from Maureen. A girl who seems happy to share only two classes with her sister!Maureen and Francine are growing apart and there's nothing Maureen can do to stop it. Are sisters really forever? Or will middle school change things for good?
*Starred Review* Maureen is a straight-A student lacking in self-confidence. Her identical twin, Francine, is outgoing and popular, though she sometimes feels like "the dumb one." They've always been inseperable—until sixth grade. Francine begins to branch off socially, catching Maureen off guard, and as the tension between them builds—thanks to a series of miscommunications and unveiled secrets—their insecurities flare, and they end up running against each other for student-council president. In their graphic-novel debuts, Johnson and Wright have crafted a pitch-perfect story about the growing pains of middle school from a sibling perspective, and it's more than just a rivalry story. Maureen and Francine's family life is established with such a strong, healthy dynamic that the girls' ensuing competition is laden with complex feelings of betrayal and guilt, as they both struggle with how to be more individual while still supporting one another. Their journeys are largely internal, but Wright's artwork, crisp and colorful, does a masterful job of tracking the twins' emotional arcs through expressive composition, and Johnson's impeccable pacing keeps things moving while still making room for rich development. In the end, only one sister can win the election, but they both succeed, thanks to each other's support. A beautiful reflection on sisterhood and coming of age that belongs in every collection. Grades 3-6. Copyright 2020 Booklist Reviews.
Graphic novels capture middle school in graphic detail
Two middle grade graphic novels navigate the hallways and hormones of tween life.
Ah, middle school. That time of great, exciting change we all must go through, willingly or not, when every day can be thrilling, terrifying or downright weird—all before lunchtime.
Filled with empathy and humor, Jerry Craft’s Class Act is a warm hug of a book that chronicles a school year in the life of aspiring artist and eighth grader Jordan Banks. Jordan starred in Craft’s Newbery Medal-winning New Kid, which followed his first year at the private Riverdale Academy Day School in the Bronx. Now Craft’s focus expands to include Jordan’s best friend, Drew Ellis, and their classmate Liam.
Jordan and Drew deal with typical tween issues, such as Jordan’s insecurities about being smaller (and hilariously, less stinky) than the other kids and Drew’s discomfort with a classmate’s amorous attentions. But as Black kids at Riverdale, they must also contend with racist microaggressions and colorism. Class differences crop up, too. In their neighborhood, Jordan and Drew are teased for being too fancy, but at school, classmates comment on their relative poverty. In an especially compelling storyline, a visit to white, wealthy Liam’s home causes Drew to grapple with conflicted feelings about friendship with someone who lives in a mansion.
Class Act’s modeling of thoughtful communication and its celebration of friendship are appealing and heartfelt. Craft’s expressive characters, strong command of vibrant color and hits of visual humor—including references to popular books in the double-page spreads that open each chapter—are downright delightful.
Twins, written by Varian Johnson and illustrated by Shannon Wright, speaks to a younger experience, opening on the first day of sixth grade for twins Maureen and Francine Carter. Francine is ready to roll, complete with a funky new hat, a plan to run for class president and a determination to go by “Fran” from now on. In contrast, Maureen is anxious about middle school; she and Francine only have a few classes together, and she’s been assigned to Cadet Corps instead of gym class.
As the girls struggle to reconcile their fierce love and strong bond with a new desire to be recognized as individuals, they must also navigate “Jock Mountain” and the “Valley of Burps & Smells.” Maureen finds her footing and learns to stand up for herself, but her decision to run against Francine for class president throws the girls’ relationship even more off balance.
Wright’s art skillfully captures the emotion and physicality of tense car rides, anxiety-inducing classroom scenes and a variety of school hallway hijinks. In his first graphic novel, Johnson, author of the 2019 Coretta Scott King Honor book The Parker Inheritance (and a twin himself!), creates a cast of engaging characters, including a family that’s by turns supportive, frustrated and funny. The lead-up to the election is suspenseful, and Johnson’s depiction of the girls’ parents’ willingness to listen to their daughters is both moving and inspiring. Twins marks an auspicious start to a new series.
Copyright 2020 BookPage Reviews.
Horn Book Magazine Reviews
It's the first day of sixth grade for the identical Carter twins, and while Maureen is more than content to face the year with her sister the way they always have -- together -- Francine is ready for a change. Differing class schedules provide Francine with hopes for autonomy, and Maureen with anxiety. Separated from her sister and core friend group, Maureen has no desire to build the self-confidence everyone claims she needs until she is threatened with a less-than-stellar grade in her Youth Cadet Corps class. For extra credit, Maureen runs for president of the student council, with only one obstacle/opposing candidate in her way -- Francine. Known as the "talker" as opposed to the "thinker," Francine has her own reasons for running for office, and -- to the chagrin of a well-rounded cast of family and friends -- a contentious political season threatens the peace in the Carter household. The story is told largely in Maureen's voice (her narration appears in rectangular boxes), and judicious use of speech bubbles, white space, and varying perspectives moves this graphic novel along without being obtrusive. Johnson and Wright have expertly teamed up to create a relatable story for all middle schoolers, with distinct reminders -- from hair bonnets to an incident of discrimination in a shopping mall -- that a majority of the characters are Black. Fans of Raina Telgemeier and Jerry Craft will appreciate the Carter twins' attempts to maneuver their way through middle school and the political process while learning to act with civility and, above all, as sisters. Eboni Njoku November/December 2020 p.102 Copyright 2020 Horn Book Magazine Reviews.
Sixth grade presents new challenges for the Carter twins. Itâ€™s the first day of school, and African American identical twins Maureen and Francine Carter are having mixed feelings. Maureen is nervous about middle school: She has a new confusing schedule, cadet corps, and, worst of all, classes without Francine. She worries that middle school will swallow her alive. Francine, however, is looking forward to everything sixth grade can offer. She canâ€™t wait to be in new surroundings, try new classes, and grab new opportunities to shine, like joining the student council race. Outgoing Francine is all set to start campaigning, but when Maureen decides to run as well, it threatens to tear the two apart. As Francine pushes to stand out, Maureen yearns to fit in, and neither sees eye to eye. Johnson, in his first graphic novel, encapsulates the rocky transition from the comfort of elementary school to the new and sometimes-scary world of middle school. The sibling bond is palpable and precious as each conflict and triumph pushes them apart or pulls them together. Wrightâ€™s illustrations fill the pages with vibrancy and emotion. The diverse student body, careful touches in the Carter home, and background elements in the mall scenes stand out for their warmth, humor, and realism. The small details that differentiate Maureen and Francine, while maintaining their mirrored features, are delightful. A touching, relatable story of identity, sisterhood, and friendship. (Graphic fiction. 10-14) Copyright Kirkus 2020 Kirkus/BPI Communications. All rights reserved.