Insightful and sensitive, a solid character study.

RUNNING SCARED

An absorbing middle-grade story of a boy trying to come to terms with his father’s death.

Sixth-grader Gregory takes the long way home from school every day to avoid passing the Jiffy Mart where his minister father died in a car accident. Gregory was in the car at the time, which further intensifies his anxiety. His friends Matt and Teisha try numerous schemes to help Gregory face his fears, but nothing works. Meanwhile, Gregory’s schoolwork has begun to suffer badly except for math, the one subject that fascinates Gregory. Even worse, news has come down that Gregory’s school will be closed, his favorite teachers might lose their jobs, and the bus for the new school will stop at the dreaded Jiffy Mart. Hoping to forestall this, Gregory gets involved in a student effort to convince the authorities to keep the school open. During their door-to-door campaign, the friends meet an eccentric elderly lady and a girl who has lost her dog, bringing them together. Finally, Gregory realizes that he must conquer his fears on his own, even as he begins to understand the worth of his new friends and his own efforts. Terrell-Deutsch writes with simplicity and a compassion for her characters that will resonate with readers. The promotion of math as fun stands out as an added bonus.

Insightful and sensitive, a solid character study. (Fiction. 9-12)

Pub Date: March 15, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-88995-503-5

Page Count: 176

Publisher: Red Deer Press

Review Posted Online: Jan. 15, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2014

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An enticing read that is certain to keep both the hero and audience guessing at every carefully plotted reveal. (Fantasy....

THE MOSTLY TRUE STORY OF JACK

A truly splendid amalgamation of mystery, magic and creeping horror will spellbind the middle-grade set.

Jack has lived much of his life feeling invisible, beneath the notice of bullies, friends or even his family. Yet when his parents divorce and he’s sent to live with his aunt and uncle in Hazelwood, Iowa, Jack is shocked to discover that everyone in the town notices him. What’s more, some of them seem to want to kill him. As he befriends some of the local kids, Jack reluctantly looks into the town’s past and unravels the mystery behind why children have been disappearing there for decades and what his connection may be. This children's debut beautifully evokes the feeling of otherness kids come to feel around their peers and at the same time creates an entirely original mythology. The mystery deepens with each chapter, revealing exactly the right amount with each step. Answers are doled out so meticulously that readers will be continually intrigued rather than frustrated. The result is the ultimate page-turner.

An enticing read that is certain to keep both the hero and audience guessing at every carefully plotted reveal. (Fantasy. 9-12)

Pub Date: Aug. 2, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-316-05670-0

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: June 6, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2011

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More thought provoking than melodramatic or disturbing, this low-key outing should engage readers despite the pat happy...

TOO MUCH TROUBLE

Plotted (though not written) in Dickensian style, this debut thrusts two illegal immigrants out into the streets and conveys them to London where they fall in with a gang of child shoplifters.

Four years after being sent for safety to England from violence-torn central Africa, 12-year-old Emmanuel and his little brother, Prince, live hand to mouth in the basement of their absentee uncle’s indoor marijuana farm in an unnamed town. When Prince gets into a fight in school and their furious uncle boots them out, the brothers flee to London, where they are rescued and recruited by “Mr. Green,” a glib, genial Fagin who shelters a dozen runaways in exchange for the wallets, cellphones and like loot they lift from crowded train stations and other locales. While Prince turns out to be a natural, Emmanuel guiltily hangs back and dreams of having a “proper home” one day. Ultimately that dream comes true for him and for Prince too, after a tragic gun accident. Though neither the urban setting nor the hardships and violence of street life are conveyed with particular sharpness in Emmanuel’s simply phrased narrative, his distress comes through clearly, as does the joy of settling in with a foster parent and being reunited with his brother.

More thought provoking than melodramatic or disturbing, this low-key outing should engage readers despite the pat happy ending. (Fiction. 10-12)

Pub Date: June 1, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-84780-234-7

Page Count: 176

Publisher: Frances Lincoln

Review Posted Online: April 18, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2012

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