A well-written tale for tweens that may spark conversations about dealing with crucial changes.

UNTIL THE OCEAN FREEZES

A preteen navigates the big and small challenges of life in this debut novel.

Lizzy Zander stands on the doorstep of a whole new life after her family relocates from New Jersey to New York City. Although Lizzy knows the move to the city is the best thing for her dad, who is living with multiple sclerosis, she can’t help worrying that she’ll never fit in. Things start to look up when Lizzy becomes friends with Cassie, a fellow swimmer who lives in the building next door. Cassie introduces Lizzie to new friends and includes her in a secret club. As a different world of people and places opens up to Lizzie, she must deal with all the complicated feelings that come with big life changes. She is worried about starting a new school and deeply misses her old friends in New Jersey. Most confusing of all, she is both troubled and embarrassed by her dad’s deteriorating health. Clemans does an excellent job tackling the issues, both large and small, and the accompanying range of emotions that Lizzy is facing. The author handles Lizzy’s very real feelings about her dad’s disease with great care while deftly portraying the other hurdles, such as peer pressure and fitting in, that make up the daily lives of most adolescents. The author’s narrative, particularly appropriate for tweens who are struggling with upheavals in their lives or families, also features a diverse cast of characters. Lizzy, with pale skin and freckles, envies Cassie’s “gorgeous skin…like coffee ice cream.” Funny emails from Lizzy to her friends back in New Jersey and sweet sketches help provide a window into the girl’s world.

A well-written tale for tweens that may spark conversations about dealing with crucial changes.

Pub Date: Feb. 17, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-08-173141-0

Page Count: 183

Publisher: Self

Review Posted Online: March 30, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2020

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A richly atmospheric page-turner—readers will eagerly anticipate the forthcoming sequel.

THE CLOCKWORK CROW

Young Seren Rhys stands on the cusp of a new life. Unfortunately for her, the train to her new life is late.

Following the death of her aunt, who saved her from her 12-year stay at the orphanage, she receives word that her godfather, Capt. Arthur Jones, will take her in. Seren spends her wait dreaming of the Jones family and their surely bustling, welcoming manor, Plas-y-Fran in Wales. An encounter with a mysterious man and his more mysterious wrapped parcel (containing the eponymous mechanical bird) leaves Seren reeling, and the mysteries multiply when she arrives at Plas-y-Fran. The place is shuttered and cold, nearly deserted but for a few fearful, oppressively unforthcoming servants. The captain and his wife are away; of their young son, Tomos, there is neither sign nor sound. With the Crow as her only, if reluctant, ally, Seren soon finds herself enmeshed in mayhem and magic that may prove lethal. In her characteristic style, Fisher crafts an elaborate fantasy from deceptively simple language. Seren is a sharp, saucy narrator whose constant puzzlement at others’ consternation over her impertinence provides running amusement. Supporting characters are fascinating if ambiguous players, not so much poorly drawn as poorly revealed, perhaps casualties of the quick pace. The deadened manor, however, provides the perfect backdrop for preternatural forces. Characters are presumed white.

A richly atmospheric page-turner—readers will eagerly anticipate the forthcoming sequel. (Fantasy. 9-12)

Pub Date: Sept. 8, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5362-1491-8

Page Count: 208

Publisher: Walker US/Candlewick

Review Posted Online: June 16, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2020

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A delicious confection and much more: it shows that the human heart is delicate, that it matters, and that it must be...

CIRCUS MIRANDUS

One strange afternoon, 10-year-old Micah Tuttle finds out that magic is real.

Micah always thought Grandpa Ephraim’s wild stories of the centuries-old Circus Mirandus were spun solely for his amusement. But when his dying grandfather writes a letter to the “Lightbender,” hoping to call in the miracle the magician had promised him as a boy, Micah learns the stories were true, and the appearance of Ms. Chintzy, the circus’ cantankerous parrot messenger, clinches the deal. Happily, Micah finds a loyal if somewhat challenging friend to help him track down the elusive light-bending magician: the magic-leery, science-minded Jenny Mendoza. Their budding rapport is nuanced and complex, a refreshing illustration of how absolute like-mindedness is not a prerequisite for friendship. On one level, the book is a fantastical circus romp, with fortunetelling vultures and “a wallaby that could burp the Greek alphabet.” On another, it’s both serious and thick with longing: Micah’s ache for the companionship of his once-vital guardian-grandfather; Grandpa Ephraim’s boyhood yearning for his absent father, as fleshed out in flashbacks; the circus founders’ desire to keep enchantment alive in a world where “faith is such a fragile thing.”

A delicious confection and much more: it shows that the human heart is delicate, that it matters, and that it must be handled with care. (Fiction. 9-12)

Pub Date: June 2, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-525-42843-5

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: March 3, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2015

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