While middle-graders seeking pleasure reading will likely find the tale dull, extra materials—including a map, a glossary,...



From the Great Lakes series

Mihaela must adapt to her new life on Michigan’s Keweenaw Peninsula after emigrating from Croatia in the late 19th century.

Although Mihaela’s father left his farm in Croatia for the copper mines of Michigan to help support his family in the midst of a drought, his worsening eyesight makes it difficult to work. When American doctors can’t help, he asks his wife—an experienced healer—to join him, along with their three children. Based on author Carney-Coston’s great-grandparents’ immigration story, the tale follows the 11-year-old white girl as she adjusts to her new life: helping her mother run a boardinghouse for other copper miners; longing for her cousin, Katarina; and familiarizing herself with Michigan herbs to help her father see again. It certainly captures a moment in time, but the overall tone feels dated, and the story lacks drama; even when Mihaela’s brothers knock over a beehive and each receives manifold stings, the event happens offstage, and they are quickly healed before any real danger can set in. The ending also feels too neat, with Mihaela turning 12 and receiving a china doll for her birthday, along with the news that her entire family is moving to Michigan and that she can start going to school.

While middle-graders seeking pleasure reading will likely find the tale dull, extra materials—including a map, a glossary, historical images, and Carney-Coston’s own family recipes—add richness to this short novel, making it a good resource for classroom units on immigration. (Historical fiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: Sept. 11, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-8143-4363-0

Page Count: 144

Publisher: Wayne State Univ. Press

Review Posted Online: Aug. 12, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2017

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A solid debut: fluent, funny and eminently sequel-worthy.


Inventively tweaking a popular premise, Jensen pits two Incredibles-style families with superpowers against each other—until a new challenge rises to unite them.

The Johnsons invariably spit at the mere mention of their hated rivals, the Baileys. Likewise, all Baileys habitually shake their fists when referring to the Johnsons. Having long looked forward to getting a superpower so that he too can battle his clan’s nemeses, Rafter Bailey is devastated when, instead of being able to fly or something else cool, he acquires the “power” to strike a match on soft polyester. But when hated classmate Juanita Johnson turns up newly endowed with a similarly bogus power and, against all family tradition, they compare notes, it becomes clear that something fishy is going on. Both families regard themselves as the heroes and their rivals as the villains. Someone has been inciting them to fight each other. Worse yet, that someone has apparently developed a device that turns real superpowers into silly ones. Teaching themselves on the fly how to get past their prejudice and work together, Rafter, his little brother, Benny, and Juanita follow a well-laid-out chain of clues and deductions to the climactic discovery of a third, genuinely nefarious family, the Joneses, and a fiendishly clever scheme to dispose of all the Baileys and Johnsons at once. Can they carry the day?

A solid debut: fluent, funny and eminently sequel-worthy. (Adventure. 10-12)

Pub Date: Jan. 21, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-06-220961-0

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Nov. 2, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2013

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Plays to Rowling’s fan base; equally suited for gifting and reading aloud or alone.

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A 7-year-old descends into the Land of the Lost in search of his beloved comfort object.

Jack has loved Dur Pig long enough to wear the beanbag toy into tattered shapelessness—which is why, when his angry older stepsister chucks it out the car window on Christmas Eve, he not only throws a titanic tantrum and viciously rejects the titular replacement pig, but resolves to sneak out to find DP. To his amazement, the Christmas Pig offers to guide him to the place where all lost Things go. Whiffs of childhood classics, assembled with admirable professionalism into a jolly adventure story that plays all the right chords, hang about this tale of loss and love. Along with family drama, Rowling stirs in fantasy, allegory, and generous measures of social and political commentary. Pursued by the Land’s cruel and monstrous Loser, Jack and the Christmas Pig pass through territories from the Wastes of the Unlamented, where booger-throwing Bad Habits roam, to the luxurious City of the Missed for encounters with Hope, Happiness, and Power (a choleric king who rejects a vote that doesn’t go his way). A joyful reunion on the Island of the Beloved turns poignant, but Christmas Eve being “a night for miracles and lost causes,” perhaps there’s still a chance (with a little help from Santa) for everything to come right? In both the narrative and Field’s accomplished, soft-focus illustrations, the cast presents White.

Plays to Rowling’s fan base; equally suited for gifting and reading aloud or alone. (Fantasy. 8-12)

Pub Date: Oct. 12, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-338-79023-8

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Oct. 21, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2021

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