"A debut middle-grade novel chronicles the adventures of a seventh grader who, while solving crimes against nature, embarks on a painful but revelatory journey of self-discovery.
Set in near future Venice Beach, the story revolves around KyRose Sanchez, a student at a STEM-focused school who has an uncanny ability to communicate with animals. Although she loves creatures of all kinds and is involved in local animal welfare issues (such as saving an injured dolphin she calls Misty and helping a pair of eagles named Gabriella and Merlin, whose ecosystem has been destroyed), her biggest wish is to be one of the popular kids, like Georgia Alister Schmidt. An archetypal mean girl, Georgia is captain of the soccer team. But while students compete in a contest creating innovative gadgets to potentially help astronauts about to land on Mars, KyRose decides that she’ll do anything to be popular—and get invited to one of Georgia’s exclusive parties. Yet in her quest to join Georgia’s circle—and not be a “freak” who talks to animals—KyRose jeopardizes her relationship with her best friend, Cora Lee, and loses focus on everything that makes her uniquely herself. The environmental thread of the engaging narrative is obviously a strength—KyRose’s own mother works for a developer who wants to forcibly relocate an animal sanctuary. But the ingenuity and groundbreaking ideas that the students come up with (like echolocation vests) are worthy of mention, and wildly empowering to young readers. Also of note are Bricault’s appealing protagonist and the subtle social commentary throughout. In one instance, KyRose’s obsession with her “digi-bracelet” (a highly advanced smartphone) makes her unaware of a significant event happening right next to her: “I was staring at my bracelet the whole time.” This story could mark the start of an entertaining series for middle-grade readers.
A thought-provoking environmental tale featuring a lovable hero." —Kirkus Reviews
"Readers in grades 5-8 who look for STEAM novels encouraging literacy and presenting problem-solving viewpoints will welcome the blend of magical realism and struggles with acceptance and unusual talents explored by KyRose, whose special ability to talk to animals alienates her from her peers.
KyRose's life in 2030 is filled with high-tech wonders and accompanying challenges that spice the typical dilemma of a different child who just wants to fit in.
Her special knowledge allows her to communicate with all creatures, from insects to mammals, but also charges her with helping them survive the human world:
A tickle runs over my ankle. Time slows. I bend down, staring into the grasshopper’s eyes. “What are you doing on this field? There’s no food.” I brush my hand over the prickly blades of plastic grass.
“Huh? I must have taken a wrong turn,” the grasshopper says. She lifts her wings. That’s how grasshoppers hear—through a tiny organ near the base of their hind legs.
Coach Hartley shouts orders for us, seventh-grade girls, to line up for jumping jacks.
I lean against the goal post. You can’t stay here. We’re in the middle of P.E. You’ll get crushed!” I look over, past the school building, onto the street where self-driving cars swerve around each other like synchronized swimmers. My eyes keep combing. “There!” I point to the cluster of oak trees opposite the bleachers. “Come on.” I cup the grasshopper. She darts back and forth against my palms. “Don’t worry,” I whisper, “I’ll keep you safe.”
As she tackles friendships, social events, and the task of inventing new devices, KyRose finds that her drive to be a champion earns her recognition, but comes with newfound responsibilities and revelations that change her life perspective.
Cicek Bricault's engaging blend of magical realism and a girl's realistic, technology-influenced life will engage those who enjoy stories that operate on the edgy boundary of fantasy and fiction.
KyRose's new discoveries lead her to grow in unexpected ways that both embrace her talents and revise her relationships.
With its intrigue, discovery, problem-solving, and extraordinary encounters, Cicek Bricault has created an engaging story to attract STEAM learners.
KyRose Takes A Leap is highly recommended for advanced elementary to middle school readers. They will relish this captivating story of a girl who decides when to take risks and how to accept more responsibility as a leader."
"Like dogs, all animals have a unique intelligence based on their biology, each with so much to teach us. What a gift to young readers—as kids will absolutely delight in the escapades of KyRose and her fantastic array of classmates and furry friends while also expanding their perspective of the world."
"With telling insights into technology and the natural world, KyRose Takes a Leap, explores the adventures of a young girl in the not-too-distant future who feels cursed by her gift of being able to talk to animals. Faced with the decision to turn her back on what makes her special, or stepping into her true power, author Cicek Bricault captures the delicate heartaches and triumphs of a pivotal moment in every young person's life. This is a story that will inspire and delight middle-graders everywhere."