From New York Times bestselling author Gale Galligan, a fun, high-energy graphic novel about friendship, family, and the last hurrahs of middle school.Cory's dance crew is getting ready for a major competition. It's the last one before they graduate eighth grade and go their separate ways to high schools all over New York City, so they have to make it count! The group starts to have problems as their crew captain gets increasingly intense about nailing the routine, and things go from bad to worse when Cory's parents ground him for not taking his grades seriously. He gets stuck with a new tutor, Sunna, who he dismisses as a boring nerd… until he catches her secretly practicing cool yo-yo tricks. Cory wants to learn the art of yo-yo, and as his friendship with Sunna grows, he ends up missing practice and bailing on his crew -- and they are not happy about it. With mounting pressure coming from all sides, how is Cory supposed to balance the expectations of his parents, school, dance, and his new friend?
In an uplifting tale from Galligan (the Baby-Sitters Club graphic novel series), the Eight Bitz dance crew seeks to make the most of their eighth grade year before splitting up for different N.Y.C. high schools. Tan-skinned Cory and his crew, portrayed with varying skin tones and body types, plan to win an epic annual dance competition, Bronx Kids Battle. Brown-skinned captain Tess Reyes, who sports a backward cap and braid, requires a strict practice regiment, and her austere routines, which leave no room for improv, put her at odds with the freewheeling crew. When Cory's grades slip and his parents hire hijabi classmate Sunna Ahmad to tutor him, extra study sessions cut into his practice time. But after Sunna shows him her superb yo-yo throwing skills, the pair become fast friends, and Cory is caught between established relationships and newfound joys that could split up the Eight Bitz for good. Galligan's timing—both comedic and emotional—is impeccable, and dynamic paneling paired with vibrant technicolor hues artfully complement the flow and energy of the Eight Bitz's routines and Sunna's yo-yo prowess. Supporting characters' individual troubles are empathetically captured alongside Cory and Sunna's emotional hurdles, and the cast is given space to experience and navigate big feelings via open and vulnerable communication, making for a thoughtfully rendered portrayal of friendship, growth, and joyful self-expression. Ages 8–12. Agent: Judy Hansen, Hansen Literary.