A masterpiece of storytelling that is addictive and engrossing.

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • Kirkus Reviews'
    Best Books Of 2016

  • New York Times Bestseller

  • Sydney Taylor Book Award Winner

THE INQUISITOR'S TALE

OR, THE THREE MAGICAL CHILDREN AND THEIR HOLY DOG

Gidwitz strikes literary gold with this mirthful and compulsively readable adventure story set in medieval France.

In a style reminiscent of The Canterbury Tales, this multiple-narrator fairy tale relates the adventures of Jeanne, a white Christian peasant girl who has prophetic visions; biracial white/black William, a Muslim-born monk-in-training with preternatural strength; and Jacob, a Jewish boy with incredible healing powers. While some townspeople hail them as saints for their gifts, other, narrow-minded Christians drive the children from their homes on a journey that takes them from the church of Saint Denis to a confrontation with Louis IX and his mother in Paris. While the three protagonists initially come together out of necessity, the heartwarming friendship they form celebrates a common humanity that transcends the bounds of race, religion, and social class. The author creates a richly designed medieval world, filled with imperious knights, farting dragons, foreboding forests, and soulless fiends, in which nothing is as it seems, including the tellers of the tales. As the story grows darker and more intricate, the dubious cast of narrators lends greater complexity to the sequence of events, forcing readers to question everything that they believe regarding each character’s exploits. Gidwitz’s lighthearted touch nonetheless provides for insightful commentary on the dangers of narrow-mindedness and zealotry that will resonate with modern readers.

A masterpiece of storytelling that is addictive and engrossing. (Fantasy. 11 & up)

Pub Date: Sept. 27, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-525-42616-5

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Dutton

Review Posted Online: July 2, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2016

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

A sly, side-splitting hoot from start to finish.

THE MECHANICAL MIND OF JOHN COGGIN

The dreary prospect of spending a lifetime making caskets instead of wonderful inventions prompts a young orphan to snatch up his little sister and flee. Where? To the circus, of course.

Fortunately or otherwise, John and 6-year-old Page join up with Boz—sometime human cannonball for the seedy Wandering Wayfarers and a “vertically challenged” trickster with a fantastic gift for sowing chaos. Alas, the budding engineer barely has time to settle in to begin work on an experimental circus wagon powered by chicken poop and dubbed (with questionable forethought) the Autopsy. The hot pursuit of malign and indomitable Great-Aunt Beauregard, the Coggins’ only living relative, forces all three to leave the troupe for further flights and misadventures. Teele spins her adventure around a sturdy protagonist whose love for his little sister is matched only by his fierce desire for something better in life for them both and tucks in an outstanding supporting cast featuring several notably strong-minded, independent women (Page, whose glare “would kill spiders dead,” not least among them). Better yet, in Boz she has created a scene-stealing force of nature, a free spirit who’s never happier than when he’s stirring up mischief. A climactic clutch culminating in a magnificently destructive display of fireworks leaves the Coggin sibs well-positioned for bright futures. (Illustrations not seen.)

A sly, side-splitting hoot from start to finish. (Adventure. 11-13)

Pub Date: April 12, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-06-234510-3

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Walden Pond Press/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2016

Did you like this book?

A bone-chilling tale not to be ignored by the universe.

PRISONER B-3087

If Anne Frank had been a boy, this is the story her male counterpart might have told. At least, the very beginning of this historical novel reads as such.

It is 1939, and Yanek Gruener is a 10-year old Jew in Kraków when the Nazis invade Poland. His family is forced to live with multiple other families in a tiny apartment as his beloved neighborhood of Podgórze changes from haven to ghetto in a matter of weeks. Readers will be quickly drawn into this first-person account of dwindling freedoms, daily humiliations and heart-wrenching separations from loved ones. Yet as the story darkens, it begs the age-old question of when and how to introduce children to the extremes of human brutality. Based on the true story of the life of Jack Gruener, who remarkably survived not just one, but 10 different concentration camps, this is an extraordinary, memorable and hopeful saga told in unflinching prose. While Gratz’s words and early images are geared for young people, and are less gory than some accounts, Yanek’s later experiences bear a closer resemblance to Elie Wiesel’s Night than more middle-grade offerings, such as Lois Lowry’s Number the Stars. It may well support classroom work with adult review first.

A bone-chilling tale not to be ignored by the universe. (Historical fiction. 12 & up)

Pub Date: March 1, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-545-45901-3

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Dec. 26, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2013

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet
more