SUDDENLY IN THE DEPTHS OF THE FOREST

Matti and Maya live in a remote village in which there are no animals. Not a dog, cat, cow or bird; not fish nor bug nor worm. Did Nehi the Demon curse the village, and is he still a menacing presence? A collective wall of silence has been erected, reflecting a willful, selective memory. The community has a dynamic of bullying and cruelty, so those few that do speak of it are vilified and have retreated into bizarre eccentricity. Matti and Maya have actually seen a fish, sensed a bird in flight and had other experiences that gave them the impetus to search out the answers. Oz takes this dark, strange, otherworldly tale many layers deeper. Although the language is lovely, with many striking images, it is also often esoteric and obscuring. The narrator is an omniscient observer who tends to sermonize. Repetition and reiteration are deliberately employed, with several bits of plot and character descriptions reappearing almost word for word throughout the work. Even Matti and Maya often feel a sense of déjà vu. They might forget again, or they might break the cycle. Is the work fantasy, fable or allegory? In the end, after all the strangeness, the moral is rather obvious, but maybe young readers need to hear it. Flawed, but intriguing and unusual. (Fiction. 10-14)

Pub Date: March 21, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-547-55153-1

Page Count: 144

Publisher: Harcourt

Review Posted Online: Jan. 24, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2011

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

Another solid adventure that doesn’t reinvent the wheel but spins it quite well.

SPY SCHOOL GOES SOUTH

From the Spy School series , Vol. 6

The spy kids return for another Spy School adventure.

By now, the students at the CIA’s Academy of Espionage have had multiple exciting encounters with the villainous organization that calls itself SPYDER. The CIA is keen to take advantage of an offer made to them by disgraced ex-spy Murray Hill, a captured SPYDER teen agent. Narrator and agent Ben Ripley, 13, and his partner, Erica Hale, 15, are the only agents Murray will lead to SPYDER’s secret headquarters, so the duo reluctantly follows the traitor’s lead while their fellow students Mike Brezinski and Zoe Zibbell stow away. Things go south quickly, and soon the group is stuck in a strange land with no backup. At this point in the series fans know what they’re getting, and Gibbs doesn’t disappoint. The dialogue crackles, the schemes are clever, and the plotting is tight and efficient. Gibbs doesn’t divulge any of the character’s ethnicities, leaving room for interpretation in a key moment that is gracefully organic to the narrative. The book’s finale leaves room for more adventures, and fans’ interest in the series will be just as rabid after this fast-paced, good-humored entry.

Another solid adventure that doesn’t reinvent the wheel but spins it quite well. (Adventure. 10-14)

Pub Date: Oct. 2, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-4814-7785-7

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: July 16, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2018

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

An almost-orphan and a rescue dog share lots of heart in a winsome coming-of-age story.

A HOME FOR GODDESSES AND DOGS

After her mother succumbs to heart disease, 13-year-old Lydia goes to live with her mother’s older sister, Aunt Brat, and her wife, Eileen, in their small Connecticut town.

Almost immediately the loving couple adopts a large rescue dog that becomes mostly Lydia’s responsibility. The unfortunate animal isn’t even housebroken, and Lydia’s most decidedly not a dog person, so caring for Guffer is challenging. So is trying to be cordial—but not too friendly—with her 12 eighth grade classmates. Previously home-schooled, Lydia’s not quite ready for the friend thing. Secrets, like who could have been responsible for maiming two baby goats or why Brat is secretly caring for them at a neighbor’s farm, complicate life. Background plotlines (an angry neighbor who hates Guffer, Lydia’s absent father, and the cause of Guffer’s anxieties) all gradually evolve. Similarly, Lydia slowly learns to cope with her grief, sometimes aided by spending time with “the goddesses”—artistic collages of strong women that she and her mother crafted. Gentle, fully fleshed characters (most seemingly white) are lovingly drawn in this long tale of healing, but the pacing is sometimes frustratingly slow. Although she’s clearly intelligent, Lydia’s first-person narrative often seems more like the voice of an adult than a young teen. In spite of these minor flaws, her poignant tale is engaging and uplifting.

An almost-orphan and a rescue dog share lots of heart in a winsome coming-of-age story. (Fiction.10-13)

Pub Date: Feb. 25, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-279678-3

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Katherine Tegen/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Oct. 9, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2019

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet
more