By Sue Corbett Alex Tresniowski Caroline Leavitt JOANNA POWELL
December 01, 2008 12:00 PM

by Sheri Reynolds

REVIEWED BY JOANNA POWELL

People PICK

GENRE

There’s something about Kendra Lugo that’s as true as butter in your grits, to borrow the lingo of the 17-year-old girl at the heart of this poignant coming-of-age novel by Virginia-based Reynolds (The Rapture of Canaan). Kendra, a lower-middle-class southern outcast whose mother is dead of cancer and whose daddy is doing time, is in emotional trouble: so uncomfortable with her sexuality that she binds her breasts in Ace bandages; so tortured by her classmates that she drinks water only at night, to avoid the girls’ bathroom at school; so fearful of being homeless that she numbly kowtows to her erstwhile caretaker Aunt Glo. When a freak killing rocks the neighborhood, the teen’s uncommon powers of observation surface, leading to a cathartic truce with her raggedy adoptive family and investing the brief but powerful drama with pathos, poetry and, unexpectedly, hope.

Kids’ CORNER

Just in time for holiday gift-giving, inspired stories for all ages

PICTURE BOOKS

WILD BOARS COOK
by Meg Rosoff and Sophie Blackall

The revolting, delightful stars of Meet Wild Boars return, and they are absolutely ravenous. To their massive pudding of bananas, broccoli and butter, author Rosoff adds just the right amount of dry wit.

LITTLE BEAUTY
by Anthony Browne

Inspired by the story of Koko, a gorilla at the San Diego Zoo who learned to use sign language, Browne imagines what expressive animals might tell us they want most: a true-blue friend.

HIP HOP SPEAKS TO CHILDREN
by Nikki Giovanni

Musical kids and parents alike will love this uniquely hip collection and interactive CD, edited by Grammy-nominated poet Giovanni. Bringing energy to writings by everyone from Queen Latifah to Martin Luther King Jr., it’s the perfect poetic primer.

CHAPTER BOOKS

THE POSSIBILITIES OF SAINTHOOD
by Donna Freitas

Catholic schoolgirl Antonia Labella aims for canonization in this satisfying comedy.

THE 39 CLUES
by Rick Riordan

Orphans Amy and Dan search for clues that will lead to their beloved aunt’s mysterious fortune.

THE HUNGER GAMES
by Suzanne Collins

In a post-apocalyptic America, 24 kids fight for survival on a reality-TV-like show. Only one will live.

CELEBRITY AUTHORS

SUGAR PLUM BALLERINAS: PLUM FANTASTIC
by Whoopi Goldberg, Deborah Underwood and Maryn Roos

She may not be the best dancer, but Goldberg’s awkward ballerina is still rave-worthy.

BIG WORDS FOR LITTLE PEOPLE
by Jamie Lee Curtis and Laura Cornell

This quirky yet useful vocabulary guide has enough bite-size prose and eye-popping illustrations to make even five-syllable words feel like fun.

MY LITTLE GIRL
by Tim McGraw, Tom Douglas and Julia Denos

A father of three girls, McGraw spins a touching tale about a daughter’s lazy day with Dad. Includes a foreword by Faith Hill.

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