Shirley and Jamila Save Their Summer

Dial. Jul. 2020. 224p. Tr $20.99. ISBN 9780525552857; pap. $10.99. ISBN 9780525552864.
Gr 3-6–When Jamila Waheed is dragged by her mother to a garage sale in her new neighborhood, she encounters Shirley Bones, and they bond over their mutual disgust for the summer camps that threaten to ruin their school vacation. Shirley manages to convince their moms to let them spend their summers on their preferred activities; soon, Jamila is playing basketball while Shirley carts around unusual objects and holds meetings on the side of the basketball court. As the two fifth graders spend more time together, Jamila becomes curious about Shirley’s activities and learns that she is an amateur detective. Intrigued, Jamila becomes part of Shirley’s investigation into a missing gecko, and the case takes the girls on a trek around their neighborhood and gives them a new understanding of friendship. Although Shirley takes top billing in the title, the story is told mostly from Jamila’s point of view. This engaging tale features well-developed characters and a clever mystery. The cast of characters is diverse: Jamila is brown-skinned, and her mother wears a head scarf outside the house; Shirley is white; and the supporting characters come from a variety of backgrounds. Goerz’s bright line drawings are attractive, expressive, and easy to follow.
VERDICT This well-executed graphic novel strikes a balance between a focus on meaningful relationships and just plain fun; it’s a great choice for fans of both the “Cam Jansen” books and Raina Telgemeier.

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