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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 12, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2013

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From the School for Good and Evil series , Vol. 1

Rich and strange (and kitted out with an eye-catching cover), but stronger in the set pieces than the internal logic.

Chainani works an elaborate sea change akin to Gregory Maguire’s Wicked (1995), though he leaves the waters muddied.

Every four years, two children, one regarded as particularly nice and the other particularly nasty, are snatched from the village of Gavaldon by the shadowy School Master to attend the divided titular school. Those who survive to graduate become major or minor characters in fairy tales. When it happens to sweet, Disney princess–like Sophie and  her friend Agatha, plain of features, sour of disposition and low of self-esteem, they are both horrified to discover that they’ve been dropped not where they expect but at Evil and at Good respectively. Gradually—too gradually, as the author strings out hundreds of pages of Hogwarts-style pranks, classroom mishaps and competitions both academic and romantic—it becomes clear that the placement wasn’t a mistake at all. Growing into their true natures amid revelations and marked physical changes, the two spark escalating rivalry between the wings of the school. This leads up to a vicious climactic fight that sees Good and Evil repeatedly switching sides. At this point, readers are likely to feel suddenly left behind, as, thanks to summary deus ex machina resolutions, everything turns out swell(ish).

Rich and strange (and kitted out with an eye-catching cover), but stronger in the set pieces than the internal logic. (Fantasy. 11-13)

Pub Date: May 14, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-06-210489-2

Page Count: 496

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Feb. 12, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2013

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Cinematic, over-the-top decadence, a tense race against time, and lessons on what’s truly valuable.

A reward of $5,000,000 almost ruins everything for two seventh graders.

On a class trip to New York City, Felix and Benji find a wallet belonging to social media billionaire Laura Friendly. Benji, a well-off, chaotic kid with learning disabilities, swipes $20 from the wallet before they send it back to its owner. Felix, a poor, shy, rule-follower, reluctantly consents. So when Laura Friendly herself arrives to give them a reward for the returned wallet, she’s annoyed. To teach her larcenous helpers a lesson, Laura offers them a deal: a $20,000 college scholarship or slightly over $5 million cash—but with strings attached. The boys must spend all the money in 30 days, with legal stipulations preventing them from giving anything away, investing, or telling anyone about it. The glorious windfall quickly grows to become a chore and then a torment as the boys appear increasingly selfish and irresponsible to the adults in their lives. They rent luxury cars, hire a (wonderful) philosophy undergrad as a chauffeur, take their families to Disney World, and spend thousands on in-app game purchases. Yet, surrounded by hedonistically described piles of loot and filthy lucre, the boys long for simpler fundamentals. The absorbing spending spree reads like a fun family film, gleefully stuffed with the very opulence it warns against. Major characters are White.

Cinematic, over-the-top decadence, a tense race against time, and lessons on what’s truly valuable. (mathematical explanations) (Fiction. 10-12)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-593-17525-5

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: June 29, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2020

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