Gourlay spins slender threads of wishes and prayers, magic and miracles, desires and redemption and weaves together an...

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TALL STORY

Twelve-year-old Andi’s pleasure in her family’s move to a real house and the coincidental long-awaited arrival of her older half brother from the Philippines is overshadowed by learning that only boys play basketball at her new school.

For Bernardo, happiness about his immigration clearance is tempered by worry that his departure will expose his small village to earthquakes. Ever since he began to grow—he’s now 8 feet tall—some villagers believe he is the returned legendary giant Bernardo Carpio, who saved San Andres from being crushed long ago. In alternating chapters, Andi and Bernardo describe Bernardo’s first days in London—the chilly weather, the MRI for the seizures that Bernardo has begun to experience, the first real clothes that fit his tall body, the sister and parents who love him. Andi’s voice is genuinely funny, tender and acerbic, especially about her parents; Bernardo’s is thoughtful and earnest, his forays into English nicely handled with sympathetic humor.

Gourlay spins slender threads of wishes and prayers, magic and miracles, desires and redemption and weaves together an impressively sweet and rich tale. (Fiction. 9-13)

Pub Date: Feb. 8, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-385-75217-6

Page Count: 304

Publisher: David Fickling/Random

Review Posted Online: Dec. 30, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2011

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A sly, side-splitting hoot from start to finish.

THE MECHANICAL MIND OF JOHN COGGIN

The dreary prospect of spending a lifetime making caskets instead of wonderful inventions prompts a young orphan to snatch up his little sister and flee. Where? To the circus, of course.

Fortunately or otherwise, John and 6-year-old Page join up with Boz—sometime human cannonball for the seedy Wandering Wayfarers and a “vertically challenged” trickster with a fantastic gift for sowing chaos. Alas, the budding engineer barely has time to settle in to begin work on an experimental circus wagon powered by chicken poop and dubbed (with questionable forethought) the Autopsy. The hot pursuit of malign and indomitable Great-Aunt Beauregard, the Coggins’ only living relative, forces all three to leave the troupe for further flights and misadventures. Teele spins her adventure around a sturdy protagonist whose love for his little sister is matched only by his fierce desire for something better in life for them both and tucks in an outstanding supporting cast featuring several notably strong-minded, independent women (Page, whose glare “would kill spiders dead,” not least among them). Better yet, in Boz she has created a scene-stealing force of nature, a free spirit who’s never happier than when he’s stirring up mischief. A climactic clutch culminating in a magnificently destructive display of fireworks leaves the Coggin sibs well-positioned for bright futures. (Illustrations not seen.)

A sly, side-splitting hoot from start to finish. (Adventure. 11-13)

Pub Date: April 12, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-06-234510-3

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Walden Pond Press/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2016

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Though much of this earnest effort reads like an after-school special, its portrayal of characters with rarely depicted...

INSIGNIFICANT EVENTS IN THE LIFE OF A CACTUS

Born without arms, white “problem-solving ninja” Aven Green can do almost anything with her feet instead—even solve a mystery.

“Now that I’m thirteen years old, I don’t need much help with anything. True story.” Aven’s adoptive parents have always encouraged her independence. She’s never felt self-conscious among her friends in Kansas, playing soccer and guitar and mischievously spinning wild yarns about losing her arms. But when her father suddenly gets a job managing Stagecoach Pass, a run-down theme park in Arizona, tales of alligator wrestling can’t stop her new classmates’ gawking. Making friends with Connor, a self-conscious white boy with Tourette’s syndrome, and Zion, a shy, overweight, black boy, allows her to blend in between them. Contrasted with the boys’ shyness, Aven’s tough love and occasional insensitivity provide a glimpse of how—and why—attitudes toward disability can vary. While investigating the park’s suspiciously absent owner, the kids discover clues with eerie ties to Aven. The mystery’s twist ending is somewhat fairy-tale–esque, but Connor’s Tourette’s support-group meetings and Aven’s witty, increasingly honest discussions of the pros and cons of “lack of armage” give the book excellent educational potential.

Though much of this earnest effort reads like an after-school special, its portrayal of characters with rarely depicted disabilities is informative, funny, and supportive. (Fiction. 9-13)

Pub Date: Sept. 5, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4549-2345-9

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Sterling

Review Posted Online: June 14, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2017

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