A finely wrought, magical coming-of-age tale with a convincing message.

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ME AND MARVIN GARDENS

King, who writes as A.S. King for teens, offers a mystical, fablelike tale for a younger audience.

Obe (pronounced “oh-bee”) has grown up on the only remaining creekside sliver of the century-plus–old Devlin family farm, most of which his great-grandfather lost to his drinking habit 100 years before, a tale that’s sketched in brief chapters that alternate with the white boy’s story. Alone by the creek, he discovers a remarkable creature, beagle-sized, hooved, and winsome. He calls it Marvin Gardens. Marvin’s most remarkable trait is what he eats—only plastic. Since his best friend betrayed him months ago, Obe has mostly been on his own, and he keeps his discovery secret, although the subdivision that’s being developed around the creek imperils Marvin’s safety. It’s only after the animal is spotted by others, then shot with a paintball, that Obe confides in a trusted and kindly teacher. Although the environmental theme is pounded home with a somewhat heavy hand, the gently nuanced fantastical elements gain a neat believability as related in Obe’s genial, observant, and sweetly introspective narrative voice. It’s just right for a sensitive sixth-grader with a growing self- and world awareness trying to navigate the troubled waters of uncertain friendships and demeaning bullying.

A finely wrought, magical coming-of-age tale with a convincing message. (Fantasy. 9-14)

Pub Date: Jan. 31, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-545-87074-0

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Levine/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Sept. 19, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2016

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A deftly told story that dramatizes how Danes appointed themselves bodyguards—not only for their king, who was in the habit...

NUMBER THE STARS

The author of the Anastasia books as well as more serious fiction (Rabble Starkey, 1987) offers her first historical fiction—a story about the escape of the Jews from Denmark in 1943.

Five years younger than Lisa in Carol Matas' Lisa's War (1989), Annemarie Johansen has, at 10, known three years of Nazi occupation. Though ever cautious and fearful of the ubiquitous soldiers, she is largely unaware of the extent of the danger around her; the Resistance kept even its participants safer by telling them as little as possible, and Annemarie has never been told that her older sister Lise died in its service. When the Germans plan to round up the Jews, the Johansens take in Annemarie's friend, Ellen Rosen, and pretend she is their daughter; later, they travel to Uncle Hendrik's house on the coast, where the Rosens and other Jews are transported by fishing boat to Sweden. Apart from Lise's offstage death, there is little violence here; like Annemarie, the reader is protected from the full implications of events—but will be caught up in the suspense and menace of several encounters with soldiers and in Annemarie's courageous run as courier on the night of the escape. The book concludes with the Jews' return, after the war, to homes well kept for them by their neighbors.

A deftly told story that dramatizes how Danes appointed themselves bodyguards—not only for their king, who was in the habit of riding alone in Copenhagen, but for their Jews. (Historical fiction. 9-12)

Pub Date: April 1, 1989

ISBN: 0547577095

Page Count: 156

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin

Review Posted Online: Oct. 17, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 1989

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DRAMA

From award winner Telgemeier (Smile, 2010), a pitch-perfect graphic novel portrayal of a middle school musical, adroitly capturing the drama both on and offstage.

Seventh-grader Callie Marin is over-the-moon to be on stage crew again this year for Eucalyptus Middle School’s production of Moon over Mississippi. Callie's just getting over popular baseball jock and eighth-grader Greg, who crushed her when he left Callie to return to his girlfriend, Bonnie, the stuck-up star of the play. Callie's healing heart is quickly captured by Justin and Jesse Mendocino, the two very cute twins who are working on the play with her. Equally determined to make the best sets possible with a shoestring budget and to get one of the Mendocino boys to notice her, the immensely likable Callie will find this to be an extremely drama-filled experience indeed. The palpably engaging and whip-smart characterization ensures that the charisma and camaraderie run high among those working on the production. When Greg snubs Callie in the halls and misses her reference to Guys and Dolls, one of her friends assuredly tells her, "Don't worry, Cal. We’re the cool kids….He's the dork." With the clear, stylish art, the strongly appealing characters and just the right pinch of drama, this book will undoubtedly make readers stand up and cheer.

Brava!  (Graphic fiction. 10-14)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-545-32698-8

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Graphix/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: July 22, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2012

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