The Vice Principal Problem (Blue Stars #1)

by Kekla Magoon (Author) Molly Murakami (Illustrator)

Reading Level: 4th − 5th Grade
Series: The Blue Stars

Two everyday superheroes set out to save the world--starting with their school--in an exciting new middle-grade graphic series from two award-winning authors and a debut illustrator.

When cousins Riley Halfmoon and Maya Dawn move to Urbanopolis to live with their activist grandma, they get off to a rocky start. Outgoing Riley misses her Muscogee cousins but is sure that she and Maya will be instant BFFs. Meanwhile, introvert Maya misses her parents, on active duty in Japan, and just wants some space to herself. At school, Maya joins Robotics Club and Riley bonds with fellow gymnasts.

Just when they start to feel at home, their school culture is threatened by an influential foe in disguise. Joining student council feels like a way to help, so both cousins toss their hats in the ring for sixth-grade class president. But when they realize what they're up against--money, power, and lies--they quickly shift from competition to cooperation, joining forces as superheroes. Riley is savvy with people; Maya is a whiz with gadgets. In no time, this dazzling duo is off to save the day!

Relatable and rich in themes of family, community, and compromise, the Blue Stars series will entertain and empower, inspiring readers to be the stars they are.

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Kirkus Reviews

A fresh new graphic series sure to engender a devoted following.

Publishers Weekly

Estranged cousins--Riley Halfmoon, who is of Muscogee heritage, and bespectacled Maya Dawn, who is Black--reunite in Urbanopolis to live with their community-centered activist grandmother as they prepare to enter sixth grade. While adjusting, they both experience a few hiccups along the way. Extroverted Riley is eager to befriend her cousin, whom she hasn't seen since early childhood. Reserved Maya, on the other hand, wants to maintain her privacy and focus on her inventions. When they learn that a lack of funding is jeopardizing beloved school activities, the cousins each run for class president. But nefarious vice principal Mr. Balderdash seems intent on stemming their efforts and landing them in detention. As it becomes clear that the cousins won't accomplish anything on their own, Maya and Riley team up, Holmes and Watson style, to win the presidency, take down Mr. Balderdash, and save their school. Bustling slice-of-life plot beats by Magoon (Chester Keene Cracks the Code) and Smith (Harvest House), paired with animated art by debut illustrator Murakami, culminates in a realistically rendered and impeccably paced graphic novel series opener that accessibly highlights the importance of youth involvement in local politics. Ages 8-12. (Mar.)

Copyright 2024 Publishers Weekly, LLC Used with permission.

School Library Journal

Gr 4 Up--Riley Halfmoon and Maya Dawn are cousins who have very different personalities. This never made a difference until they both moved to Urbanopolis to live with their grandmother, and their personalities began to clash. Riley is used to being part of a big Muscogee family in Oklahoma and makes lots of friends on the gymnastics team. Maya is used to living with her parents on an Air Force base and doesn't mind being one of the only members of the robotics club. Riley and Maya soon find themselves united by two things: The first is that they each have different sentimental reasons for loving blue stars; the second is their dislike of Vice Principal Balderdash, an over-the-top bad guy who wants to cut everything they love, such as after-school programs and the school library, out of the budget. This story has layers that will appeal to many different kinds of readers. It's a sweet and thoughtful story about military families, friendship, and girls learning to trust each other. At the same time, it evolves into a weird and funny adventure as the girls scheme to combine their strengths and reveal their vice principal's diabolical plans to the world. Murakami's cute and cartoony artwork pops with color and will hook readers into the excitement of the story. VERDICT A thoughtful, funny, and memorable story about family, friendship, and cooperation. Purchase for all middle grade collections.--Andrea Lipinski

Copyright 2024 School Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

Review quotes

This middle-grade graphic novel, the first in a series, has everything: nuanced and empowered protagonists, a funny, gripping story, age-appropriate treatment of social issues, and expressive comic illustrations begging to be lingered over. Readers will come away inspired to raise their own voices and take action to create positive, peaceful change in their communities. A fresh new graphic series sure to engender a devoted following.
—Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
Kekla Magoon
Kekla Magoon is the author of the New York Times bestseller The Secret Library and many other fiction and nonfiction titles for young readers, including X: A Novel, cowritten with Ilyasah Shabazz; the Blue Stars series, cowritten with Cynthia Leitich Smith and illustrated by Molly Murakami; and Revolution in Our Time: The Black Panther Party's Promise to the People. She has received the Margaret A. Edwards Award, an NAACP Image Award, a Boston Globe-Horn Book Award, and four Coretta Scott King Honors, among others. Kekla Magoon lives in Montpelier, Vermont, and teaches at Vermont College of Fine Arts.

Cynthia Leitich Smith is an NSK Neustadt Laureate and acclaimed author of Hearts Unbroken, winner of the American Indian Youth Literature Award; Harvest House; Sisters of the Neversea; the New York Times best-selling Tantalize and Feral series; Rain Is Not My Indian Name; and Jingle Dancer, illustrated by Cornelius Van Wright and Ying-Hwa Hu. She also edited the anthology Ancestor Approved: Intertribal Stories for Kids, is the author-curator of Heartdrum, a Native-focused children's and YA imprint, and served as the inaugural Katherine Paterson Chair at Vermont College of Fine Arts. A Muscogee Nation citizen, Cynthia Leitich Smith lives in Austin, Texas.

Molly Murakami is a cartoonist, illustrator, writer, and creator of several webcomics. The Blue Stars Series: Mission One: The Vice Principal Problem is her publishing debut. She lives in Minnesota.
Lexile Measure
Guided Reading Level
Candlewick Press (MA)
Publication date
March 05, 2024
The Blue Stars
BISAC categories
JUV008020 - Juvenile Fiction | Comics & Graphic Novels | Superheroes
JUV011040 - Juvenile Fiction | People & Places | United States - Native American
Library of Congress categories
Graphic novels
Comics (Graphic works)
Superhero comics

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