BIRD

Bird confronts friendship, family, and human limitations in this poignant tale. Thirteen-year-old Bird has run away from her Ohio home to search for her vanished stepfather. Hiding in a shed in Acorn, Alabama, Bird dances by moonlight and tries not to be too lonely. She can’t help but get involved with the people she meets: Ethan, a boy whose life was saved by a heart transplant; Jay, whose brother died suddenly; and old Mrs. Pritchard, who used to bake peach cobbler before she lost her husband. Bird covetously observes the happy families of Acorn, but doesn’t see that everyone has grief and tragedies to bear. Told through the alternating voices of Bird, Jay, and Ethan, this moving journey follows four lonely people as they touch each other’s lives. A lovely and sad glimpse of individuals caring for one another in an imperfect world. (Fiction. 10-13)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2004

ISBN: 0-8037-2847-6

Page Count: 144

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2004

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FABLEHAVEN

Witty repartee between the central characters, as well as the occasional well-done set piece, isn’t enough to hold this hefty debut together. Teenagers Seth and Kendra are dropped off by traveling parents at their grandfather’s isolated Connecticut estate, and soon discover why he’s so reluctant to have them—the place is a secret haven for magical creatures, both benign and decidedly otherwise. Those others are held in check by a complicated, unwritten and conveniently malleable Compact that is broken on Midsummer Eve, leaving everyone except Kendra captive in a hidden underground chamber with a newly released demon. Mull’s repeated use of the same device to prod the plot along comes off as more labored than comic: Over and over an adult issues a stern but vague warning; Seth ignores it; does some mischief and is sorry afterward. Sometimes Kendra joins in trying to head off her uncommonly dense brother. She comes into her own at the rousing climax, but that takes a long time to arrive; stick with Michael Buckley’s “Sisters Grimm” tales, which carry a similar premise in more amazing and amusing directions. (Fantasy. 11-13)

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 2006

ISBN: 1-59038-581-0

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Shadow Mountain

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2006

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FOOTBALL GENIUS

Sixth-grader Troy White is a one-of-a-kind athlete with the ability to predict which plays any football team will run even before the ball is snapped. However, his mental talents don’t help him crack his youth-league team’s starting lineup (the coach plays his own son at quarterback). Troy dreams of pitching his talent to his beloved Atlanta Falcons, helping them post a winning season. Seemingly an after-school-special waiting to happen, and marked by cinematic writing, this feel-good story has a place in libraries fielding requests for clean and uplifting stories. Touching scenes of underdog Troy wishing he had a father to help him are contrasted with very realistic on-the-field football action, which is not surprising considering that the author is a former NFL player. Many actual players’ names are dropped throughout the story but some, like Randy Moss, may soon switch teams. More than a sports story, romance pops up as Troy nudges star Falcon linebacker Seth Halloway to date Troy’s mother. This light and fast-paced story will appeal to the tween crowd. (Fiction. 10-13)

Pub Date: July 1, 2007

ISBN: 978-0-06-112270-5

Page Count: 256

Publisher: HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2007

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