22 Jun / All Summer Long by Hope Larson
The last day of seventh grade for two best-friends-since-babyhood should be a day of jubilant celebration. But Austin’s unexpected announcement that he’s going off to a competitive soccer camp for a month is news that’s “gonna ruin [their] Fun Index,” Bina laments. Austin’s reaction to skipping their unique method of keeping track of summer adventures which they’ve done for the past five years is surprisingly dismissive: “we’re thirteen. Even if I wasn’t going to camp, we’re too old for that stuff.” Ouch.
Being left behind turns into way too much TV for Bina (she even picks up a fake English accent binge-ing on British Teen Private Eye). When her parents turn off “InfiniFlix,” Bina’s forced to find other means of amusement. Austin’s cool older sister Charlie proves to be a temporary distraction, but the 16-year-old is a bit too self-absorbed to be reliable company. Worst of all, Bina can’t even get Austin to reply to her texts. What Bina does have is her music – that is, discovering and even making her own. By the time Austin returns home, Bina’s not quite sure where their relationship stands: the lifelong friends will need to figure out how to navigate their BFF-ship through diverging interests, new alliances, and unavoidable adolescence.
Bestselling Ignatz and Eisner-winning creator Hope Larson presents messy middle-grade milestones with all its bittersweet angst, newfound courage, and burgeoning independence. Her casually diverse world is especially inclusive. She draws Bina in a darker hue than Austin, giving her a name that could be Italian, Hebrew, Scandinavian, African, and more. Bina is clearly multi-racial, her parents of different ethnic backgrounds. One older brother has a ex-girlfriend with a Japanese name. The other older brother is married to a man and the couple has just been approved to adopt.
Presented in black, white, and hues of orange peach, Larson’s warm panels will quickly pull readers in. That Summer is the first installment of a planned trilogy should have audiences eagerly looking forward to more changing, growing seasons.
Readers: Middle Grade