A book in which purpose and art intertwine successfully.

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FOX MAGIC

Chance Devlin, 12, entered a suicide pact with two of her friends. Her friends followed through. She did not.

The loss of her friends along with the guilt Chance feels for bailing on them results in a very difficult time. She loses her appetite and her will to function in her day-to-day life, and she must also deal with bullying in the form of harsh notes from her classmates, notes that Chance feels she deserves. Chance receives counseling and is also encouraged to journal her thoughts. Even with all this and the support of her parents, Chance is still doubtful at the prospect of improvement. And then a mysterious young fox begins appearing to Chance, and the connection made proves to be the help Chance needs to confront her past and begin to heal, effectively conveyed in a meticulous present-tense third-person narration. This slim book may prove helpful for young people experiencing depression or similar challenges, demonstrating the importance and benefit of having and drawing on a support system along with getting professional help. The loving presence and behavior of the adults in Chance’s life speak volumes, communicating a necessary message of unity. Chance is a white girl, but her Saskatchewan school is a diverse one, and she has several Indigenous classmates in her grade. An author interview, afterword on mental health, and internet resources will surely prove useful.

A book in which purpose and art intertwine successfully. (Fiction. 10-14)

Pub Date: March 27, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-88995-552-3

Page Count: 132

Publisher: Red Deer Press

Review Posted Online: Feb. 3, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2018

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If hoping to grab a heartfelt connection, readers may feel sidelined, but plot turns will certainly keep them entranced.

THE ALWAYS WAR

For the past 75 years, Tessa’s nation has been at war—a war that has no end in sight.

Tessa lives in a community of weary people, visibly crushed by endless years of combat. They are numb; war is commonplace. But when a local boy receives an award for bravery—the nation’s highest—it lifts the city. Everyone, especially Tessa, desperately needs a hero. But Gideon shocks the town by refusing the honor. He declares himself a coward and runs away. He has killed more than 1,000 people; there is no honor in that. But that’s what war is, isn’t it? Killing the enemy is necessary. Gideon infuriates Tessa, but she is inexplicably curious as well. She follows him and ends up on a plane, with Gideon steering it straight toward the enemy line. He hopes to apologize, to atone for his mistakes, but what he and Tessa (along with a stowaway orphan named Dek) find when they open the plane’s door changes the plan dramatically. This dystopian drama examines the human aspect of war, and also how technology may redefine war in the future. In line with that tension, it is difficult to pinpoint which character grows the most in the narrative—Tessa or the computer.

If hoping to grab a heartfelt connection, readers may feel sidelined, but plot turns will certainly keep them entranced. (Dystopia. 10-14)

Pub Date: Nov. 15, 2011

ISBN: 978-1-4169-9526-5

Page Count: 208

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Sept. 21, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2011

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Readers who don’t need endings tied up with tight little bows will find much to think about here.

INFINITE SKY

Tragedy emerges from the commonplace miseries of everyday life in this evocative mood piece.

Thirteen-year-old Iris lives with her dad and older brother, Sam, in rural England. Until recently, Iris and Sam had a mum as well, but she’s taken off to Tunisia on a mission to find herself. Now Sam’s associating with ruffians, Dad’s taken to drinking, and Iris is avoiding her best friend, unable to bear the smug pity. When a few caravans of Irish “travelers” squat illegally in Dad’s paddock, Iris sees the possibility of something fresh and untainted in her life. But Dad and Sam loathe the travelers, calling them “Gypsies,” “parasites” and worse. Iris strikes up a friendship—and maybe more?—with 14-year-old Trick, but her father becomes increasingly erratic as he sees his control over his family slipping away. Her Dad repeatedly threatens eviction, and Iris must decide whom to believe in the face of petty crime. A senseless act of violence leads to heavily foreshadowed tragedy. This brief, gloomy debut concludes tidily though with an unclear trajectory: After a summer’s adventure, everyone’s right where they started yet nothing’s the same, mirroring the intransigence of hate.

Readers who don’t need endings tied up with tight little bows will find much to think about here. (Fiction. 10-13)

Pub Date: May 27, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4814-0658-1

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Atheneum

Review Posted Online: March 12, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2014

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