A tender piece about connectedness.

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SOMEWHERE AMONG

During her mother’s difficult pregnancy, Ema and her parents move in with her Japanese grandparents.

Usually, in August, Ema and her white, American mother visit Nana and Grandpa Bob in California. But Mom’s pregnant and weak, so they move in with Papa’s parents on the other side of Tokyo. A new neighborhood’s hard, especially for a biracial kid who’s called “foreigner” by strangers but identifies as Japanese. Ema describes her life and cares in thoughtful, quietly detailed free-verse poems. She worries about the baby (“Other babies have almost come but were lost”), the judgment of her domineering Obaasan (grandmother), and the frailty of sweet Jiichan (grandfather); she misses Papa, who’s almost always at work. Carefully, she refrains from burdening anyone with her concerns. Woven right into this family’s heart are events past and present, local and far-flung. One is Jiichan’s boyhood trauma during World War II, “in the hills / watching / outside Nagasaki,” and how that bombing means that Jiichan’s ancestors have nothing like a grave: “There is nothing / no thing / left of Jiichan’s family.” Another is the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, which they watch unfold from Japan and which threaten her fragile mother’s peace of mind. An occasional one-sentence poem, starkly alone on a page, strikes hard. Ema’s profound choice of her baby sister’s name brilliantly touches all the themes, including peace.

A tender piece about connectedness. (Verse historical fiction. 9-12)

Pub Date: April 12, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-4814-3786-8

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Atheneum

Review Posted Online: Feb. 17, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2016

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Warm, delicious and filling.

PIE

What do you get when you take some scrumptious pie recipes, stir in a mix-up of a mystery involving an overweight cat and a legacy, then add a sly satirical nod to the Newbery Medal? This irresistible confection.  

In 1955, 10-year-old Alice’s beloved Aunt Polly, the peerless “Pie Queen of Ipswitch,” who has always given away the extraordinary products of her oven simply because it makes her happy, dies. She bequeaths her incomparable piecrust recipe to Lardo, her cat—or does she?—and leaves Lardo to Alice. Thus the stage is set for a rich, layered and funny tale about friendship, family relationships and doing what’s right. The characters are wonderfully drawn. While doing her best to carry on Aunt Polly’s legacy, trying to figure out how to wrest the secret from the cat, dealing with a nefarious woman poking around town and learning about the renowned “Blueberry Medal,” which everyone in town is trying to win, Alice draws closer to her mom, a resolution Aunt Polly would have cherished. Alice and her family eventually discover the solution to the mystery in a plot twist that is both comical and plausible. An epilogue, set in 1995, is deeply poignant and gratifying. In addition to the beautifully wrought story, readers will savor and want to attempt the 14 recipes, each of which precedes a chapter.

Warm, delicious and filling.   (recipes, pie credits) (Historical fiction. 9-12)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-545-27011-3

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Aug. 17, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2011

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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

Review Posted Online: March 3, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2015

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