- Mango Delight by Fracaswell Hyman
Trade ed. ISBN 978-1-4549-2332-9 $14.95
E-book ed. ISBN 978-1-4549-2333-6 $9.99
Reviewed from galleys R Gr. 4–6
Twelve-year-old Mango wishes she could channel the confidence of her hero Beyoncé when Brook, her BFF, dumps her for the popular crowd, but really, she just wants to hide in the bathroom during lunch now. When Brook sneakily signs Mango up for musical auditions—she knows about Mango’s serious stage fright, after all—Mango decides to throw caution to the wind and try out anyway, stunning herself, Brook, and everyone else with her rendition of “Halo.” Soon she’s the star of the school play and a minor YouTube sensation, and her school’s coolest of cool girls is looking at her as a new best friend. The outcast-turned-star premise might be generic, but the characters (with the exception of Brook) are deftly crafted, and their relationships play out in ways that carefully avoid cliché. Queen bee Hailey Joanne, for instance, is often undeniably obnoxious but she’s also a kid trying to figure out whether or not classmates are using her for her wealth and status, and Mango realizes that she too is using Hailey Joanne in her own way and wonders if, in middle school and beyond, everyone’s using somebody as they try to figure out the nuances of relationships. Mango’s supportive family is also well drawn, particularly her comforting Jamaican immigrant father and her no-nonsense, former athlete African-American mom, who’s a loving but demanding figure. Kids who’d settle for making it through middle school unscathed but still dream of shining in it will find a kindred spirit in Mango.