Magic exposes the extent of vicious school bullying in this arresting middle school mystery.

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THE DISAPPEARANCE OF EMILY H.

A 13-year-old who sees memories tackles the mystery of a missing girl.

Starting eighth grade at Yielding Middle School, Raine knows about “all the yuck that goes along with being the new girl.” Because her single mom is constantly starting over, Raine has attended five schools so far and longs to make friends, fit in and settle down. Raine’s ability to see “sparkles” that convey the memories of others gives her special insights. At school, Raine quickly identifies Jennifer as leader of the mean girls who bully vulnerable classmates. She also learns that her family has moved into the house where Emily Huvar, an unpopular girl who mysteriously disappeared two months earlier, used to live. As Raine discovers things about her classmates from their "sparkles," she sees a link between Jennifer’s bullying and Emily’s disappearance. Eventually, Raine realizes Emily’s not dead, but she’s also not out of danger, which now spreads to Raine. Speaking in a colloquial, feisty, humorous first-person, Raine recounts her vulnerable longing to belong, her bold stand against class bullies and her resolve to unravel Emily’s disappearance—they all ring true, despite the “sparkles.”

Magic exposes the extent of vicious school bullying in this arresting middle school mystery. (Magical realism. 10-14)

Pub Date: March 12, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-385-73943-6

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: Jan. 20, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2015

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Not for the faint of heart or stomach (or maybe of any parts) but sure to be appreciated by middle school zombie cognoscenti.

ZOMBIE BASEBALL BEATDOWN

Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle meets Left for Dead/The Walking Dead/Shaun of the Dead in a high-energy, high-humor look at the zombie apocalypse, complete with baseball (rather than cricket) bats.

The wholesome-seeming Iowa cornfields are a perfect setting for the emergence of ghastly anomalies: flesh-eating cows and baseball-coach zombies. The narrator hero, Rabi (for Rabindranath), and his youth baseball teammates and friends, Miguel and Joe, discover by chance that all is not well with their small town’s principal industry: the Milrow corporation’s giant feedlot and meat-production and -packing facility. The ponds of cow poo and crammed quarters for the animals are described in gaggingly smelly detail, and the bone-breaking, bloody, flesh-smashing encounters with the zombies have a high gross-out factor. The zombie cows and zombie humans who emerge from the muck are apparently a product of the food supply gone cuckoo in service of big-money profits with little concern for the end result. It’s up to Rabi and his pals to try to prove what’s going on—and to survive the corporation’s efforts to silence them. Much as Bacigalupi’s Ship Breaker (2010) was a clarion call to action against climate change, here’s a signal alert to young teens to think about what they eat, while the considerable appeal of the characters and plot defies any preachiness.

Not for the faint of heart or stomach (or maybe of any parts) but sure to be appreciated by middle school zombie cognoscenti. (Fiction. 11-14)

Pub Date: Sept. 10, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-316-22078-1

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: June 26, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2013

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An abundantly diverting mystery seasoned with mild fantasy and just a little steampunk.

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GREENGLASS HOUSE

When his parents’ hotel fills up with a variety of unexpected guests just days before Christmas, Milo is caught up in mysterious goings-on.

The inn, hospitable to smugglers and named for its colored glass windows, sits on cliffs above the river Skidwrack. With the holiday interrupted by the demands of guests iced in by wintry weather, Milo finds both purpose and distraction in a role-playing game introduced by his new young friend, Meddy, and in a book of folklore given to him by a guest. A ghost story, a love story, a story of fabled relics and the tale of a legendary smuggler intertwine while Milo, in his game persona, finds longed-for skills and strengths. Each guest seeks a secret treasure in the old house, while Milo, out of loyalty to his adoptive parents, hardly dares name his own secret quest: to know more about his Chinese heritage. Milford’s storytelling is splendid. Stories within the story are rich and layered; clues are generously offered; even the badly behaved visitors seem fairly good-humored until the worst reveals true perfidy at the last; the many threads of the tale all tie up. Milo’s world seems comfortably contemporary; the current history of his parallel world is mostly background that’s revealed at the close.

An abundantly diverting mystery seasoned with mild fantasy and just a little steampunk. (Mystery/fantasy. 10-14)

Pub Date: Aug. 26, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-544-05270-3

Page Count: 384

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: May 14, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2014

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