The plot’s on a mission, though there’s sufficient humor and drama to keep it wheeling along.




From the S.T.E.M. Squad series

Five teenagers find themselves transferred to an experimental science class that’s considerably more hands-on than they expect.

Though they have no special interest in science to start, Malik, Jules, Christopher, Tracey, and Ilyana quickly discover one when they learn that their classroom is a secret, high-tech lab beneath their Southern California school. Better yet, following an introduction to the meaning of STEM, their enthusiastic new teacher leads them out first to help the school custodian deal with a burst pipe and then, on an impromptu field trip, to join a group of specialists who have gathered to find ways of diverting rising floodwaters nearby. These missions involve discussions of principles and techniques in a range of scientific and technological fields, plus the exercise of cooperative problem-solving—particularly when a burst temporary dam traps the students in a flooded house. Rosenberg’s not at his best with character descriptions (Ilyana is “a petite thing,” and Christopher’s a “skinny Asian boy”), but he makes a conscientious, commendable effort to diversify both the teen cast and the supporting adults. Along with undisguised infodumps throughout, he further boosts the instructional agenda with appended sets of review and discussion questions plus amplified descriptions of the episode’s highlighted STEM specialties. Scattered illustrations don’t add much to the package.

The plot’s on a mission, though there’s sufficient humor and drama to keep it wheeling along. (bibliography) (Fiction/nonfiction hybrid. 11-13)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-4380-0805-9

Page Count: 208

Publisher: Barron's

Review Posted Online: July 20, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2016

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It’s so annoying that Elle’s survivalist grandfather makes her do all these prepper drills—until she learns about the asteroid headed for Earth.

Elle’s widowed father loves his dad but can’t stand the way Grandpa Joe pulls Elle and her kid brothers into all his survivalist planning. Elle barely tolerates the surprise drills, the inspections of her bug-out bag, the insistence that she eat disgusting MREs. But one day, she comes upon a scary website in which a Harvard astrophysicist explains that an asteroid is going to hit the planet in the spring. Maybe all of Grandpa Joe’s training will come in handy after all! She enlists the help of her best (and only) friend, but Mack is the opposite of loner Elle, and he brings other students into their survival planning. With Mack, Elle finds herself leading the Hamilton Middle School Nature Club, teaching a few of her fellow students about water filters and heirloom seeds. But while Elle wants Mack laser-focused on the apocalypse and on her, he’s distracted by the swim team—and worse, by his possible transfer to the Conrad School for the Blind. Mack is both kind and adventurous, but it’s unfortunate the didactic descriptions of his assistive tools lack accuracy in this context. Elle and her family are white, Mack’s black, and their classmates are racially diverse. Watching these kids spiral into paranoia, fueled by a fraudulent internet tale of conspiracies, makes for compelling reading.

A page-turner. (author’s note, bibliography) (Fiction. 11-13)

Pub Date: Sept. 3, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5247-6761-7

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: June 10, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2019

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A killer thriller.


Black takes time out from chronicling the neighborhood-themed exploits of half-French detective Aimée Leduc to introduce a heroine as American as apple pie.

Kate Rees never expected to see Paris again, especially not under these circumstances. Born and bred in rural Oregon, she earned a scholarship to the Sorbonne, where she met Dafydd, a handsome Welshman who stole her heart. The start of World War II finds the couple stationed in the Orkney Islands, where Kate impresses Alfred Stepney of the War Department with the rifle skills she developed helping her dad and five brothers protect the family’s cattle. After unimaginable tragedy strikes, Stepney recruits Kate for a mission that will allow her to channel her newly ignited rage against the Germans who’ve just invaded France. She’s parachuted into the countryside, where her fluent French should help her blend in. Landing in a field, she hops a milk train to Paris, where she plans to shoot Adolf Hitler as he stands on the steps of Sacre-Coeur. Instead, she kills his admiral and has to flee through the streets of Paris, struggling to hook up with the rescuers who are supposed to extract her. Meanwhile, Gunter Hoffman, a career policeman in a wartime assignment with the Reichssicherheitsdienst security forces, is charged with finding the assassin who dared attempt to kill the Führer. It’s hard to see how it can end well for both the cop and the cowgirl. The heroine’s flight is too episodic to capitalize on Black’s skill at character development, but she’s great at raising readers’ blood pressure.

A killer thriller.

Pub Date: April 7, 2020


Page Count: 360

Publisher: Soho Crime

Review Posted Online: May 4, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2020

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While the slow start and trappings of finance culture will deter some readers, those who are drawn in by Lindy’s passion and...


A seventh-grader plays the stock market.

Lindy isn’t ready for her math test, and coming down with mononucleosis is one way to get out of going to school. In the month that Lindy’s home sick, her father gives her $100 to play with on his stock-trading site. Though Lindy thinks of herself as “dense at math,” she is more than able to pick up the concepts when they have a practical use. Aided by the book Buying Stock for Dummies, Lindy immerses herself in the stock market. Her rate of return on her $100 is excellent, so it’s completely safe to dip into her parents’ capital, right? But the stock market is more volatile than Lindy realizes—and so are junior high friendships. While she’s been home focusing on the NASDAQ, her friends have formed new relationships without her. Lindy’s enthusiasm is infectious but sometimes impenetrable. The mathematical and functional aspects of selling stock are explained fairly clearly, but the social aspects of finance, from CNBC to the Wall Street Journal, from television analysts to certified financial advisors, lack explication.

While the slow start and trappings of finance culture will deter some readers, those who are drawn in by Lindy’s passion and the fun math puzzles will be rewarded by a startlingly suspenseful conclusion, with far more at stake than mere classroom drama . (Fiction. 11-12)

Pub Date: May 7, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-4424-5255-8

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Atheneum

Review Posted Online: March 13, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2013

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