Margot’s cautionary tale offers an insightful look at a young girl’s journey of self-discovery and acceptance.


With a mother who reads tarot cards, 2-year-old triplet half sisters and an embarrassing stepfather, Margot longs for a more mundane life.

On the eve of seventh grade, Margot has a lot to contend with, including a humiliating new nickname following a disastrous attempt to impress the popular crowd. Now that her BFF Erika is attending private school, Margot agonizes over how to capture the attention of her crush, Gorgeous George, while avoiding her arch nemesis, Sarah. In her haste to reinvent herself, Margot befriends edgy, cool new girl Em, entranced by Em’s defiant attitude toward Sarah. The constant barrage of Sarah’s subtle cruelty takes a toll on Margot, pushing her toward increasingly reckless behavior. Spurred on by Em, the situation between Margot and Sarah escalates and the stakes become dangerous as events spiral out of control. Ultimately, Margot must decide if being popular is worth sacrificing everything she knows to be right. Through Margot’s transformation from quiet girl to troublemaker, Humphrey thoughtfully explores the repercussions of bullying.  Preteen readers will relate to Margot’s insecurities about her looks and her longing to fit in.

Margot’s cautionary tale offers an insightful look at a young girl’s journey of self-discovery and acceptance. (Fiction. 11-14)

Pub Date: June 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-1-4231-2301-9

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Disney Press

Review Posted Online: April 18, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2011

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One great big whodontcare.


A skater girl–turned–private school coed investigates the death of her two-week-old hookup in this debut.

After her single mom remarries and moves Cass to private school, the teen copes by maintaining her friendships with the male skateboarders from her old neighborhood, including her best friend, Mattie, who has become mute after a bout with throat cancer. In spite of her disdain for St. Bernadette’s, Cass falls for Cooper, an attractive peer counselor who has the bad luck to be murdered two weeks after he and Cass meet. When Cass’ skater friend Gav is accused of the murder, she is determined to clear his name. After many accusations and much lying and sneaking out, Cass ends up getting her biggest clue from a dream, and the murderer is no one readers ever could have guessed. While the story has some satisfying moments, the text is littered with clichés and laughably clunky sentences like “Reality stroked my stomach like a hot poker.” The dialogue is awkward, the secondary characters are hard to distinguish from one another, and it’s difficult to believe that independent Cass would so easily fall for a “[t]ypical pretty boy” who woos her with phrases like “I like you….You have a virtual, I don’t know, rainbow of emotions without even talking.” The most interesting character by far is Mattie, who carries a torch for Cass and communicates with finger taps and shoulder shrugs. Their slowly unfolding romance is the engine that drives this otherwise uninspired mystery.

One great big whodontcare. (Mystery. 11-14)

Pub Date: April 7, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-7624-5455-6

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Running Press Teens

Review Posted Online: Jan. 20, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2015

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A tale driven by its informational purpose, with only a short story’s worth of plot.


From the Seven (The Series) series

Posthumous messages and tantalizing clues send a teenager from Canada to Barcelona in search of a hidden chapter from his beloved grandfather’s past.

One of a septet of simultaneously published novels, all by different authors and featuring cousins who are each left a mission or task in their shared grandfather’s will, this takes Steve to Spain, where he discovers that his elder relative was a member of the International Brigades. He is guided by his grandfather’s old journal and also by Laia, an attractive young resident of the city who lectures him on the Spanish Civil War while taking him to several local memorial sites. Steve slowly gains insight into how it felt to believe passionately in a cause—even, in this case, a doomed one—and then to lose that innocent certainty in the blood and shock of war. The storyline is, though, at best only thin glue for a series of infodumps, and readers will get a stronger, more specific view of that conflict’s drama and course from William Loren Katz’s Lincoln Brigade: A Pictorial History (1989).

A tale driven by its informational purpose, with only a short story’s worth of plot. (map and family tree, not seen) (Fiction. 11-13)

Pub Date: Oct. 10, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-55469-944-5

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Orca

Review Posted Online: Aug. 8, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2012

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