COOPER AND THE ENCHANTED METAL DETECTOR

A young boy’s life takes an unexpected turn when he receives an old metal detector.

Cooper lives with his mom in upstate New York, where they run an antiques store in an old barn. Although he’s only 11 years old, Cooper manages the household and store. His mom, who used to bring Cooper to garage sales, changed after Cooper’s little brother died and his dad left. Now Cooper pays the utility bills with money he keeps in an old coffee tin and ventures to garage sales alone to find items for the store. Much to the dismay of Mr. Shepherd, the director of the town’s historical museum, Cooper has a knack for getting into sales early to snag the best items. When Cooper unexpectedly leaves a yard sale with a metal detector and finds 12 musket balls from the Revolutionary War in his backyard, it sets in motion a chain of events that will change his life forever, revealing not only history buried deep in his backyard, but family secrets as well. Narrated in the first person by Cooper, Osterweil’s novel reveals the inner workings of a sensitive boy trying to figure out how to help his family survive. Cooper’s active imagination is a stark contrast to the responsibility he assumes at home: He finds friendship in Decto, the french-fry–eating metal detector, and Squeaky, his rickety bicycle, among other objects. Cooper’s exchanges with these imaginary friends add enough silliness to keep young readers engaged. However, lengthy passages about battles, as told by Mr. Shepherd, slow the narrative’s flow and often feel dry, especially when compared to Cooper’s vibrant voice. Still, budding historians will have the opportunity to learn about an important moment in U.S. history—and may even be inspired to pick up a metal detector of their own.

A poignant coming-of-age story and history lesson rolled into one. (Fiction. 10-13)

Pub Date: May 1, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-60898-149-6

Page Count: 243

Publisher: Namelos

Review Posted Online: March 13, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2013

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Fans of R.J. Palacio's Wonder (2012) will appreciate this feel-good story of friendship and unconventional smarts.

FISH IN A TREE

Hunt draws a portrait of dyslexia and getting along.

Ally Nickerson, who’s passed through seven schools in seven years, maintains a Sketchbook of Impossible Things. A snowman in a furnace factory is more plausible than imagining herself doing something right—like reading. She doesn't know why, but letters dance and give her headaches. Her acting out to disguise her difficulty causes headaches for her teachers, who, oddly, never consider dyslexia, even though each notices signs like inconsistent spellings of the same word. Ally's confusion is poignant when misunderstandings like an unintentional sympathy card for a pregnant teacher make her good intentions backfire, and readers will sympathize as she copes with the class "mean girls." When a creative new teacher, Mr. Daniels, steps in, the plot turns more uplifting but also metaphor-heavy; a coin with a valuable flaw, cupcakes with hidden letters, mystery boxes and references to the Island of Misfit Toys somewhat belabor the messages that things aren't always what they seem and everyone is smart in their own ways. Despite emphasis on "thinking outside the box," characters are occasionally stereotypical—a snob, a brainiac, an unorthodox teacher—but Ally's new friendships are satisfying, as are the recognition of her dyslexia and her renewed determination to read.

Fans of R.J. Palacio's Wonder (2012) will appreciate this feel-good story of friendship and unconventional smarts. (Fiction. 10-12)

Pub Date: Feb. 5, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-399-16259-6

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Nancy Paulsen Books

Review Posted Online: Nov. 18, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2014

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The dice are rolling readers’ way in this third outing.

SUNNY ROLLS THE DICE

From the Sunny series , Vol. 3

Sunny, in seventh grade, finds her score on the Groovy Meter taking some wild swings as her friends’ interests move in different directions.

In a motif that haunts her throughout, Sunny succumbs to a teen magazine’s personality quiz and sees her tally seesaw radically. Her BF Deb has suddenly switched focus to boys, clothes, and bands such as the Bee Gees (this is 1977)—dismissing trick-or-treating and wearing galoshes on rainy days as “babyish.” Meanwhile, Sunny takes delight in joining nerdy neighbors Lev, Brian, and Arun in regular sessions of Dungeons and Dragons (as a fighter character, so cool). The storytelling is predominantly visual in this episodic outing, with just occasional snatches of dialogue and pithy labels to fill in details or mark the passage of time; frequent reaction shots deftly capture Sunny’s feelings of being pulled this way and that. Tellingly, in the Holms’ panels (colored by Pien), Sunny’s depicted as significantly smaller than Deb, visually underscoring her developmental awkwardness. Deb’s comment that “we’re too old to be playing games like that” leads Sunny to drop out of the D&D circle and even go to the school’s staggeringly dull spring dance. Sunny’s mostly white circle of peers expands and becomes more diverse as she continues to navigate her way through the dark chambers and misty passages of early adolescence. Lev is an Orthodox Jew, Arun is South Asian, and Regina, another female friend, has brown skin.

The dice are rolling readers’ way in this third outing. (Graphic historical fiction. 10-12)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-338-23314-8

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Graphix/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: June 23, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2019

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