The Cover Wars

[The Jumbies #2]

Corinne LaMer defeated the wicked jumbie Severine months ago, but things haven’t exactly gone back to normal in her Caribbean island home. Everyone knows Corinne is half-jumbie, and many of her neighbors treat her with mistrust. When local children begin to go missing, snatched from the beach and vanishing into wells, suspicious eyes turn to Corinne.

To rescue the missing children and clear her own name, Corinne goes deep into the ocean to find Mama D’Leau, the dangerous jumbie who rules the sea. But Mama D’Leau’s help comes with a price. Corinne and her friends Dru, Bouki, and Malik must travel with mermaids across the ocean to the shores of Ghana to fetch a powerful object for Mama D’Leau. The only thing more perilous than Corinne’s adventures across the sea is the foe that waits for her back home.

Janet: Very ominous cover! The children’s poses are a bit stiff, but the colours and full-body depiction of three POC! make this appealing. The back is definitely a yes. Guess I’d better read the first book, eh?

Nafiza: This is even prettier than the cover of the first book. I liked The Jumbies immensely and cannot wait to see what the second book in the series has in store for us. The back copy is super intriguing.

Apollo Kagwa has had strange dreams that have haunted him since childhood. An antiquarian book dealer with a business called Improbabilia, he is just beginning to settle into his new life as a committed and involved father, unlike his own father who abandoned him, when his wife Emma begins acting strange. Disconnected and uninterested in their new baby boy, Emma at first seems to be exhibiting all the signs of post-partum depression, but it quickly becomes clear that her troubles go far beyond that. Before Apollo can do anything to help, Emma commits a horrific act—beyond any parent’s comprehension—and vanishes, seemingly into thin air. Thus begins Apollo’s odyssey through a world he only thought he understood to find a wife and child who are nothing like he’d imagined. His quest begins when he meets a mysterious stranger who claims to have information about Emma’s whereabouts. Apollo then begins a journey that takes him to a forgotten island in the East River of New York City, a graveyard full of secrets, a forest in Queens where immigrant legends still live, and finally back to a place he thought he had lost forever. This dizzying tale is ultimately a story about family and the unfathomable secrets of the people we love.

Janet: This isn’t children’s literature, is it? The top half of the cover is appealing; the bottom half isn’t. I don’t know why. The back copy feels very adult novel, meaning it gives a ton of information without the solid details I need to invest in a character.

Nafiza: I find the cover intriguing but I wonder why I thought it was kidlit. Huh. Well, as Janet said, the back copy is entirely too full of information I don’t necessarily need or want before deciding to read a book. I will look for reviews before I make up my mind.

Clayton feels most alive when he’s with his grandfather, Cool Papa Byrd, and the band of Bluesmen—he can’t wait to join them, just as soon as he has a blues song of his own. But then the unthinkable happens. Cool Papa Byrd dies, and Clayton’s mother forbids Clayton from playing the blues. And Clayton knows that’s no way to live.

Armed with his grandfather’s brown porkpie hat and his harmonica, he runs away from home in search of the Bluesmen, hoping he can join them on the road. But on the journey that takes him through the New York City subways and to Washington Square Park, Clayton learns some things that surprise him.

Janet: I am worried about that child – he looks like one good breeze would bowl him over. (Is that rude?) Other than that, the cover is lovely and lively. The back is all a draw: music! families! a journey! written by Rita Williams-Garcia! I’ll hunt this one up.

Nafiza: Yes. The cover and the back copy are both tremendous. I’m in. Give this to me.

Ian Fossor is last in a long line of Gravediggers. It’s his family’s job to bury the dead and then, when Called by the dearly departed, to help settle the worries that linger beyond the grave so spirits can find peace in the Beyond.

But Ian doesn’t want to help the dead—he wants to be a Healer and help the living. Such a wish is, of course, selfish and impossible. Fossors are Gravediggers. So he reluctantly continues his training under the careful watch of his undead mentor, hoping every day that he’s never Called and carefully avoiding the path that leads into the forbidden woods bordering the cemetery.

Just as Ian’s friend, Fiona, convinces him to talk to his father, they’re lured into the woods by a risen corpse that doesn’t want to play by the rules. There, the two are captured by a coven of Weavers, dark magic witches who want only two thing—to escape the murky woods where they’ve been banished, and to raise the dead and shift the balance of power back to themselves.

Only Ian can stop them. With a little help from his friends. And his long-dead ancestors.

Janet: The cover is kind of cute. Not my thing, but easy on the eyes. The back copy fairly standard middle grade, nothing striking – until the last three sentences. Which almost change my mind. I’d like to hear Steph’s thoughts on this.

Nafiza: I reckon I want to read this if only for the delicious illustrations I feel like it will have. It’s so profoundly macabre. Yes. I would want to read this in October.

Cricket Cohen isn’t a liar, but she doesn’t always tell the exact truth. She loves thinking about geology and astronomy and performing tricky brain surgery on her stuffed animals. She also loves conspiring with Dodo, her feisty grandmother who lives in the apartment right next door. And one Manhattan weekend when she’s in hot water with her teacher and her controlling parents over a fanciful memoir essay, Cricket goes along with Dodo’s questionable decision to hit the bricks. Imagining all sorts of escapades, Cricket is happy to leave home behind. But on a crosstown adventure with an elderly woman who has her own habit of mixing truth and fantasy, some hard realities may start to get in the way of all the fun.

Janet: Remind me to never title any of my stories on this model: it feels like every second book coming out uses it! I’d pass on the cover (although the eyes remind me of Simini’s lovely art). The back copy, however, entices with a good mix of the imaginative and the foreboding.

Nafiza: Any story that promises adventure between a grandma and a grandchild was written for me. I will read this and I will enjoy it. Feisty grandmas are my fave.

Justyce McAllister is top of his class, captain of the debate team, and set for the Ivy League next year—but none of that matters to the police officer who just put him in handcuffs. He is eventually released without charges (or an apology), but the incident has Justyce spooked. Despite leaving his rough neighborhood, he can’t seem to escape the scorn of his former peers or the attitude of his prep school classmates. The only exception: Sarah Jane, Justyce’s gorgeous—and white—debate partner he wishes he didn’t have a thing for.

Struggling to cope with it all, Justyce starts a journal to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. But do Dr. King’s teachings hold up in the modern world? Justyce isn’t so sure.

Then comes the day Justyce goes driving with his best friend, Manny, windows rolled down, music turned up. Way up. Much to the fury of the white off-duty cop beside them. Words fly. Shots are fired. And Justyce and Manny get caught in the crosshairs. In the media fallout, it’s Justyce who is under attack. The truth of what happened that night—some would kill to know. Justyce is dying to forget.

Janet: I know I’ve seen this somewhere. Anyway: oh goodness. This looks to be a heart-breaker. That title. The back copy. Tbr.

Nafiza: This will be painful but it is the most important kind of painful. I will read this.