PANDAS ON THE EASTSIDE – Orca Books Fall 2016
Journey Song knows that something beautiful is just what her rundown neighborhood needs, but she doesn’t expect it to be two misplaced pandas.
In the spring of 1972, Journey’s neighborhood, The Eastside has NOT seen better days; it’s never had any good days at all. But ten year old Journey loves her school and the people she’s sees in the street every day. To her it is home. Then on the same day the war takes her teacher’s brother, her estranged father returns. Troubled, but determined to work things out in her own way, when Journey hears that two pandas are being held in a warehouse in the neglected waterfront, she can’t help but get involved.
Journey is horrified to learn that the pandas, originally destined for a zoo in Washington, might be shipped back to China over a diplomatic spat between the Chinese and the Americans. She’s worried about the conditions that they might be in – who is feeding them, are they warm enough, are they lonely? She thinks the pandas might help her teacher deal with her grief, that her father might be persuaded to stick around, and that maybe, just maybe, her best friend might be inspired one last time to try to read. To the people of Eastside, Journey’s infectious enthusiasm for all things panda is hard to resist and soon she’s getting assistance from every corner of her tight knit neighborhood.
Now all she needs to do ensure somehow that the pandas aren’t shipped back to China but instead carry on to their comfortable new home. And somewhere along the line, Journey hopes she and her friends can catch of glimpse of the pandas too.
“…beautifully portrayed characters, all seen compassionately but realistically through Journey’s eyes.” Kirkus
“(Prendergast)…demonstrates a formidable skill for writing an intricately plotted, character-filled middle-grade novel that confronts prejudice without preaching. Yet it’s her rich setting that truly drives the story, providing the impetus for the action and, consequently, acceptance.” Quill & Quire
AUDACIOUS – Orca Books Fall 2013
Sixteen year old Raphaelle is that girl who says the wrong thing, who crosses the wrong person, who has the wrong hair, the wrong body, the wrong attitude, the totally wrong clothes. She can’t do anything right, except draw, but she draws the wrong pictures. When her father moves the family to a small prairie city, Raphaelle wants to leave behind the misfit rebel, the outcast, the vengeful trouble-maker she was. Reborn as “Ella,” she plans fit in at her new school, while her perfect younger sister goes to the Catholic girls’ school and her emotionally fragile mother looks for a job.
But Ella might just be a different kind of misfit. She’s drawn to a brooding boy in her art class, Samir, and expresses her confused feelings in an explicit artwork. When a classmate texts a photo of Ella’s art to a younger friend, the horrendous fallout spreads though Ella’s life like an uncontrollable disease. Ella is expelled from school and faces pornography charges, her mother is hospitalized, her sister fails all her classes, and her distant father finally notices something is wrong.
Awards and Honors:
2014 Westchester Fiction Award Winners list
2013 CLA YA Book Award nominee
2013 Resource Links “The Year’s Best”
2015 CBC 100 YA Books That Make You Proud to be Canadian
“In Audacious, Prendergast asks concrete questions about faith, art, and politics that are sometimes avoided in YA. Her gamble pays off. In Ella, Prendergast has created a voice that is definitely audacious – but also utterly real and memorable.”
“Fans of Ellen Hopkins and Sonya Sones’s novels in verse will delight in Prendergast’s rich, riveting story…Prendergast demonstrates a powerful understanding of the adolescent search for identity, and her writing uses the verse format to great effect, with an honest teenage voice, a willingness to play with poetic form, and an intensity that arises through the condensed language.“
“AUDACIOUS is a book just as powerful as its title. This skillful novel in verse follows a grieving high school girl’s struggle to defy tradition, censorship, and intolerance. AUDACIOUS is loaded with taut emotions and complex controversies. Beautifully written, thoughtfully layered, and occasionally disturbing, AUDACIOUS asks important questions that will grip a teen reader’s attention, with poems as varied, lovely, and shocking, as the ups and downs of the heroine’s quest for understanding.”
Margarita Engle, Newbery Honor-winning author of The Surrender Tree
“The character of Raphaelle is no angel, but an audacious teen determined to prove there are no limits when it comes to freedom and truth. Hang on for the ride. Prendergast’s story is wild and wonderful.”
Cathy Ostlere, GG nominated author of KARMA
4/4 stars “…a stunning young adult novel which shows the coming-of-age process of a strong and independent young woman who wants to express herself through her art. The author manages to create fully formed characters, interesting dialogue and a series of events which tell a complete story while using a minimum of words. Prendergast says enough that readers have a clear sense of plot, setting and characters, and yet readers are able to fill in any blanks with their own imagination – a perfect combination! Audacious is a strong, occasionally disturbing young adult novel which mirrors accurately the main character who, in her effort to learn more about herself, lives up to the book’s title. The forthcoming sequel, Capricious, promises to unfold more of Ella’s story, and I am eager to see what happens next to this feisty heroine!“
“Prendergast, who hails from Vancouver, B.C., pulls out all the stops in this action-packed coming-of-age tale fraught with familial and societal dysfunction. (The book) offers great insight into teen psychology—especially that of the outcast—and boldly probes sensitive topics like religious prejudice, sex, censorship and eating disorders.”
5 star review: “I loved every second of the book. ”
4 star review: “I would absolutely recommend Audacious”
CAPRICIOUS – Orca Books Fall 2014
Capricious is the sequel to Audacious
Ella’s grade-eleven year was a disaster (“Audacious”), but as summer approaches, things are looking up. She’s back together with her brooding boyfriend, Samir, although they both want to keep that a secret. She’s also best buddies with David and still not entirely sure about making him boyfriend number two. Though part of her wants to conform to high school norms, the temptation to be radical is just too great. Managing two secret boyfriends proves harder than Ella expected, especially when Samir and David face separate family crises, and Ella finds herself at the center of an emotional maelstrom. Someone will get hurt. Someone risks losing true love. Someone might finally learn that self-serving actions can have public consequences. And that someone is Ella.
Awards and honors:
“Prendergast is able to allude to these social problems with a sincere and honest voice. She does not drag the novel into some sort of moral sermonizing, nor does she trivialize the issues which Ella and other characters must confront.”
“Sensitive and compelling.” Kirkus Reviews
“Capricious was an unexpectedly addictive read… full of raw emotion. This is by far, one of the BEST Canadian novels I’ve read in a very long time. Prendergast is extraordinary. I sincerely hope Capricious gets the recognition it deserves.” On Page 394
“A quick read, thanks to the format and the dramatic plot. Prendergast varies the style of the narrative, seamlessly integrating rhymed couplets, acrostics, and more…Her candid approach to sex, lies, and friendship should attract a wide audience, especially readers who are drawn to deep and sometimes dark issues.” School Library Journal – April 1, 2014
“Ella’s responses are generally thoughtful and consistently authentic. I like that Ella stands firm in her individuality and owns both her vulnerability and her nonconformity…Capricious could make an excellent independent study text for any high school reader who enjoys poetry, and it should be very popular in the teen section of public libraries.” Resource Links – April 1, 2014
“I really liked Capricious… I did like watching her slowly realize that she’s not only hurting herself with her actions, but those around her. Samir also continued to intrigue me, since he’s quite a hypocrite when it comes to his faith, so it was no wonder Ella wanted David, too. Now that Ella has made it through her junior year, I do have to wonder what being a senior will bring for her!” Pinkindle
“Capricious captivated me with it’s brilliant verse. I hadn’t read many books in this style before this, and those that I had tended to be fantasy and medieval fiction. I was really impressed by its use in this book, and the way it fit into the narrator’s modern life. It managed to give just glimpses into Ella’s life, while keeping the intimacy created with a first person point of view novel.” WordFest Blog
Stella Wing just wants to rock when it seems everyone else wants to rap.
In a school full of posers, jocks and hip hop wannabes, 16 year old Stella has managed to recruit two tiny freshmen, guitarist Jacob and bassist Miles to join her quest for the real old school rock band experience. Though she’s a wicked drummer Stella’s wobbly soprano and the boys’ pre-pubescent voices hardly make for a killer sound. What Stella needs is a wild singer to round out their crew. When Miles discovers 15 year old Tamara Donnelly nailing the national anthem at a baseball game, Stella is not convinced. Tamara is sort of a nerd, kind of chubby and pretty conservative. But her raw chesty voice is all kinds of awesome. Though Stella wants to turn Tamara into a rock goddess in time for a gig at the summer music festival, Tamara proves tough to convince. Despite her awkward exterior, she’s a confident performer, and has her own ideas about music and what it means to be epic cool.
With the bewildered boys just trying to stay in tune, Stella and Tamara jam their way into the kind of friendship music legends are built on. Their band The Frail Days slowly starts building a local following, but when new conservative guidelines are introduced for the summer music festival, Stella and Tamara clash over whether to change their sound or remain true to Stella’s edgy alt rock vision. Now Stella has to convince not only Tamara, but also the summer festival organizers that a real live rock band is truly what the crowd will want.
“An inspirational story…[that] tackles more than perseverance and ambition…[including] female competition, body image, and the pressure of gender expectations for young girls in society…The [Orca Limelights] stories are quick, bite-sized reads, but they pack a punch—the well-developed stories have relatable characters and entertaining plots. This book will appeal to a diverse audience of young female readers.” VOYA – April 1, 2015
“A pleasing choice for high/low readers with an interest in the music biz.” Booklist Online – February 25, 2015
“Prendergast displays excellent insight into what makes young artists tick in this short novella. Characterization is deftly done: Stella has an attractively rebellious edge to her personality, and Tamara’s character grows naturally in confidence. Punchy, insightful and great for music lovers.” Kirkus Reviews – February 15, 2015
“The dialogue is authentic, and the vocabulary is varied, interesting and appropriate for the intended audience. Characters are realistic, and the plot is believable. The theme of performing and finding a voice is well explored in this novel…The Frail Days would appeal to a variety of readers, including readers of music, relationships and realistic fiction…Highly Recommended.” CM Magazine – February 6, 2015
“While the themes are serious, the lively first person narrative by the iconoclastic Stella (piercings, fire-engine red hair, different fake tattoos every week) makes this a dynamic and funny novel.” Resource Links – February 1, 2015
“A timely read for kids looking at chasing dreams of their own.” Stephanie Q., LibraryThing Early Reviewer – January 23, 2015
WICKET SEASON – Lorimer Books, March 2012
In Winnipeg, Harry was a cricket star. With few West Indians in the community and few people who played the sport, he always stood out from the crowd. But when he moves to Toronto’s Little Jamaica to stay with his grandfather, Harry is suddenly just another West Indian kid who loves cricket. There are even girls who are more talented than him.
Harry is determined to make the cricket team at his new school, but he’ll really have to step up his game. To prove his commitment to the sport, he volunteers to coach Kanga cricket – cricket for beginners, akin to little league baseball. At first, all he wants to do is impress the coach. But soon, Harry realizes that being a part of a bigger community can be more rewarding than standing out on your own.
“This novel will have a ready-made market with the many cultures who are familiar with cricket, and will broaden the experience of those who are not.” Rated G – Good, even great at times, generally useful!” (Patricia Jermey Resource Links 20121001)
“The concepts of community, multiculturalism, immigration, and racism are interwoven into this sports tale. The originality of cricket as a vehicle for Prendergast’s tale is also a refreshing change.” (Jonine Bergen CM: Canadian Review of Materials 20121005)
“The story is good, plus the characters represent a wide range of cultures and races. Overall, it would make a great reluctant reader book…” ROYAL REVIEWS, Sarah Howison, Clermont County Public Library
“Wicket Season is a fast-paced read, with believable, likeable characters, a plot with just the right amount of tension, a realistic setting and a satisfying lesson learned.” Aileen Wortley Canadian Children’s Book News
And here’s a review direct from the target audience – an 11 year old kid of West Indian descent.