Books in Brief: Love Radio, Wretched Water Park, The Whale Who Swam Through Time | Books
love radio by Ebony LaDelle; Simon & Schuster, 310 pages ($19.99) Ages 12 and up.
First author Ebony LaDelle delivers swoon-worthy romance and engaging characters in this wondrous novel, set in Detroit, about two black teenagers, grappling with tough issues on their own and finding their way together. towards each other, aided by the loving support of family, friends and their wider community.
Danielle “Dani” Ford, 17, who dreams of going to New York University and becoming a writer, has cut herself off from her friends following a traumatic sexual assault. She hasn’t confided in anyone, including her beloved parents, about what happened to her and has no interest in boys or dating.
Prince Jones, also a senior at fictional Mass Tech High School, dreams of becoming a DJ and is already a celebrity for his weekly radio show DJ Love, giving relationship advice to callers on a popular Detroit hip-hop show. He also takes care of his mother, who has multiple sclerosis, and his 8-year-old brother, Mook, who suffers from attention deficit disorder. His responsibilities at home affected his schoolwork and caused him to rethink his college plans.
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Sparks fly when Danielle accidentally insults Prince during a chance encounter at the Detroit Public Library, mistakenly assuming he’s a teenage parent because he’s perusing picture books. (Dani’s father reminds her of how insulted she was when a white shopper at a store assumed the baby she held for a relative was his.) Prince has been in love with Dani for some time; she reluctantly accepts his suggestion to go on three dates with him so he can prove himself worth falling in love with.
The novel, an alternating narration between Dani and Prince, is set against the lively backdrop of Detroit with dates at an ice rink, the lighting of the downtown Christmas tree, and an after-hours visit to Motown. Museum Hitsville USA.
Wretched Water Park, Sinister Summer Book One by Kiersten White; Delacorte Press, 232 pages ($16.99) Ages 8-12.
One might be tempted to see a whisper of the Lemony Snicket Unfortunate Occurrence books in this new series from versatile YA author Kiersten White, but White, who reimagined Frankenstein in “The Dark Descent” and reimagined Vlad the Impaler in as a girl in her “And Me Darken”, charts her own path with this clever and funny debut.
12-year-old twins Theo and Alexander Sinister-Winterbottom and 16-year-old sister Wilhelmina are abruptly left for the summer by their parents with an aunt they had never met”and who, to all appearances, had never met an actual human child before.“
Aunt Saffronia makes vague hints of “the first task at hand” as she drops the three off at the gruesome Fathoms of Fun Waterpark with her leering gargoyles. Park admission prices are listed in Roman numerals; work at the counter “was a woman in a long-sleeved dress with a lace collar so high it came to her chin, making her head look like it was being served on a platter. She had a face like a sheet of plastic wrap over a bowl of mashed potatoes.” Other spooky touches include towels in “black, almost black, and extremely black” colors, a mausoleum-like cabana, a wave pool called Cold, Unknowable Sea, and water slides named Oblivion, Abandon Hope, Infinite Plunge, and Mortal Coil. (The foam rafts for the slides are brown with a flat bottom and raised sides and “looked nothing like an open casket.”)
Daredevil Theo aims to set personal bests on the rides; an anxious Alex simply wishes to survive the experience as the twins are caught up in the search for Mr. Widow, the missing husband of the creepy park owner. White brings the mystery to a satisfying conclusion—there are thrilling moments but nothing too terrifying—and invites the reader into a comeback engagement, with an excerpt from the second book, “Vampiric Vacation!”
The whale that swam through time: a 200-year journey through the Arctic written by Alex Boersma and Nick Pyenson, illustrated by Alex Boersma; Roaring Brook Press, ($19.99) ages 4-8.
Scientists Alex Boersma and Nick Pyenson tell an important story of man’s effect on the environment from the fascinating perspective of a bowhead whale, the world’s longest living mammal with a lifespan of more than 200 years old and one of the few species of whale that lives its entire life in the Arctic. The colorful and neat illustrations bring the arctic world of whales to life and the changes over the decades, from the threat of whalers with their harpoons to the arrival of massive oil rigs and noise pollution from the rigs. shapes, cargo ship propellers and submarine sonar. Whales sail by sound, but “the days of calm seas are over”. And now, with the melting sea ice, there is more open ocean and faster ships.