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Joker: Killer Smile by Jeff Lemire
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Mighty Jack by Ben Hatke
Natalie Tan's Book of Luck and Fortune by Roselle Lim
Red, White & Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston
Saving Winslow by Sharon Creech
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Steeple by John Allison
Teen Titans: Beast Boy by Kami Garcia
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The Third Mushroom by Jennifer L. Holm
The Vanderbeekers Lost and Found by Karina Yan Glaser
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Wayward Witch by Zoraida Córdova
A Wizard's Guide to Defensive Baking by T. Kingfisher

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The Invisible Boy: 10/09/20

The Invisible Boy

The Invisible Boy by Alyssa Hollingsworth is set near Washington D.C. and deals with human trafficking. Nadia loves the Superman comics, specifically she loves Lois Lane and wants to be a reporter like her. She sees her world in terms of ace reporters, superheroes and supervillains.

Nadia's first supervillain is a boy she calls Paddle Boy after she witnesses a neighbor take one of her canoe paddles and smash it against a tree. Her first superhero she calls Invisible Boy, a kid who does good deeds around the neighborhood but is otherwise never seen.

Over the course of the book, Nadia becomes friends with both Paddle Boy (who isn't a supervillain, nor a bully) and Invisible Boy. Through her aunt's work with a human trafficking non-profit, she also realizes that Invisible Boy is probably being held against his will. She and Paddle Boy decide to team up to help him.

I'm keeping the identities of Nadia's two friends secret because the friendship develops in a satisfying, organic fashion. Learning their names, as well as other identities that they take on, is part of how they all grow as characters and all learn to trust each other, even with some rough spots along the way.

The process of getting help places this middle grade novel on the road narrative spectrum. Nadia and Paddle Boy are scarecrows — protector-travelers (99). Invisible Boy, who served as a protector in a limited sense on their street, is revealed to be a Minotaur or a trapped-traveler (also 99).

The destination is home (33), specifically Invisible Boy's mother. More broadly, home is somewhere safe, somewhere he will no longer be abused, where he will be able to attend school, and so forth.

The route there is the Blue Highway (33). It is represented by the roads and bike paths Nadia and Invisible boy take to reach that goal.

Thus the novel can be summarized as being about a pair of scarecrows helping a minotaur find his way home via the Blue Highway (993333).

This novel would pair well with Every Missing Piece by Melanie Conklin (2020).

Five stars

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