Maureen and Francine are sixth graders and Black identical twins about to embark on their first day at O’Connor Middle School. For the first time ever, the two don’t share the same schedule or the same activities—Maureen is in Cadet Corps, while Francine looks forward to new experiences and spends time in an after-school program. Francine is determined to strike out on her own outside of their shared twin identity, but Maureen, who doesn’t mind their similarities, isn’t as confident in making new friends. Even their previously shared friend group is being pulled in different directions—not that Francine notices. When Maureen decides to run against Francine as her only competitor for student council president, the election’s high stakes sweep them up, resulting in slander campaigns, poster defacement, and high tensions at family dinner. Johnson’s (The Parker Inheritance) graphic novel debut depicts a realistic and relatable sister relationship alongside a close-knit family’s bond. Combined with Wright’s simple yet expressive art style, it’s an engaging read that speaks to worries of burgeoning self-identity and tween change. Final art not seen by PW. Ages 8–12. (Oct.)
Praise for The Parker Inheritance:
* "A must-purchase." -- School Library Journal, starred review
* "Johnson's Westing-game inspired tale is a tangled historical mystery, a satisfying multigenerational family story, and an exploration of twentieth-century (and contemporary) race and racism." -- The Horn Book, starred review
* "A compelling mystery and a powerful commentary on identity, passing, and sacrifice." -- Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books, starred review
Praise for The Great Greene Heist series:
"[A] smartly crafted but breezy adventure that might just have students secretly cooking up schemes of their own." -- Children's Book Council
* "The elaborate bait and switch of this fast-paced, funny caper novel will surprise its readers as much as the victims. They'll want to reread immediately." -- Kirkus Reviews, starred review
"Sheer fun." -- The Horn Book
Gr 3–7—The start of sixth grade has not been smooth sailing for identical twins Francine and Maureen Carter, who are both Black. Francine, "the talker," is eager for new challenges and experiences and more time away from her sister/best-friend—oh, and she goes by "Fran" now, please. Meanwhile, Maureen, "the thinker," misses dressing alike and having all her classes with her twin, and is especially intimidated by the lunchroom and Cadet Corp. When Maureen discovers that the girls' separate classes are due not to a scheduling error but to Francine's interference, her anger spurs her to action and she challenges her sister by running against her for student council president. As the girls develop campaign strategies and try to best each other, will they permanently ruin the bond they once had? The twins' transforming relationship captures all the fraught possibilities of adolescence—the fear of change and the excitement of potential. A fully realized array of friends and family who help with (and occasionally add to) the drama create a world that readers will wish they were a part of. Wright's colorful artwork brings this endearing cast of characters to life with a dynamic range of expressiveness that suits the story's emotional highs and lows and many warm laughs. VERDICT A must-read for middle grade comics lovers. Expect high demand from fans of comics like those by Svetlana Chmakova, Jerry Craft, and Raina Telgemeier.—Darla Salva Cruz, Suffolk Cooperative Lib. Syst., Bellport, NY
Sixth grade presents new challenges for the Carter twins.
It’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 can’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. Wright’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)