A vibrant time-travel tale that offers inventive storytelling along with sports, romance, and secrets.

Blowback '07


A YA adventure finds a high school football star stuck in the past thanks to a mysterious musical instrument.

North High School students Arky and Iris are twins from the accomplished Jongler-Jinks family. Their father, Howard Jinks, is a university history professor, and their mother, Dr. Octavia Jongler, is an astrophysicist. Jongler, however, has been missing without a trace for a year. In a state of continuous coping, Howard indulges his passion for the Civil War and attends a weekend re-enactment. It also happens to be the Friday night of an important semifinal football game between the North High Cyclones and the Lakeside Spartans. When the Cyclones win, Arky throws a party for his best friends, Danny Bender, a defensive back, and Matt Grinnell, the star quarterback. The party ends early when a scandal involving a private video of Kelly, Matt’s girlfriend, erupts. Matt tries to walk home but returns to knock on Iris’ door. He begs her to play the oboe, which the jock finds beautiful. Instead, she plays her cor anglais, a family heirloom that comes to possess her. Mist pours from the instrument’s bell, engulfs Matt, and causes him to vanish. Meehl (Suck It Up and Die, 2013, etc.) has crafted a sparkling tale from both unique and time-tested elements. His layered characterization unfolds wonderfully, as the narrative focus slides from the bickering twins to Matt, the talented footballer who’s begun to think he plays just to satisfy his father’s obsession with the game. The plot kicks in as the author sends Matt back in time—via the enchanted cor anglais—to 1907, when football had a different set of rules, equipment, and cultural value. Meehl’s love of history and sport combine to tell not only Matt’s story, but also Olympian Jim Thorpe’s. As a young man, Thorpe played football for the Carlisle Indian Industrial School of Pennsylvania. A bittersweet ending sets up the second volume in a trilogy.

A vibrant time-travel tale that offers inventive storytelling along with sports, romance, and secrets.

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-63505-186-5

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Mill City Press

Review Posted Online: Oct. 21, 2016

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In a well-written gambol through weirdness, Skinner (The Wrecker, 1995, etc.) offers four highly imaginative short stories about young people with supernatural powers. In the first story, Jenny can change the world, and change history, by changing the maps she draws. The narrator, Laurie, knows Jenny is out of control, and when Jenny creates a second sun and splits the earth in two, Laurie is ready to act. The second story is about a world where people “bop”—instant travel just by thinking of a location—instead of walking from one place to another. Mae, however, either can’t bop, or won’t, a prospect that intrigues the narrator. In the third tale, Meredith, who has a supernatural connection with the planet Pluto, and Dexter, who is able to spray-paint with his mind, unite their powers. In the fourth and longest story, Jake finds himself deeply in love with a religious girl, Louise, and both of them are tempted by the powers a metahuman, Nina, has bestowed upon them. All four stories will captivate readers, and may even get them thinking about deeper ideas. Skinner’s often humorous portrayal of young adolescents is on target, and while the stories resemble writing exercises, lacking the sustained, pulse-pounding poetic turns of his novels, they are consistently entertaining. (b&w illustrations, not seen) (Fiction. 9-14)

Pub Date: June 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-689-80556-X

Page Count: 116

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 1999

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This follow-up to Firebirds Rising (2006) will hold great appeal for fantasy fans who don’t mind exchanging their epics for short stories. From the lush and lyrical to the minimalist, soaring is exactly what these stories do, taking the reader through unexplored lands of the fantastic, well beyond wizards, vampires and faeries. Some stories are clearly rooted in fantasy legends, like Nina Kiriki Hoffman’s flowing centerpiece, “The Ghosts of Strangers.” Others, like Carol Emshwiller’s “The Dignity He’s Due,” employ some characterizations and settings that step just beyond reality, satisfying those who can’t get enough of the urban fantasy genre. Each story includes an author’s note for further information. Traditional themes in YA literature, including romance, deception and family relations, drive the stories. Both acclaimed and lesser-known authors are included, so readers who pick this up because they recognize a favorite author’s name may discover new favorites. (Short stories/fantasy. YA)

Pub Date: Dec. 1, 2008

ISBN: 978-0-14-240552-9

Page Count: 592

Publisher: Penguin

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2008

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