This smart, humorous tale should inspire girls to dream big, experiment, and problem-solve through challenges.


From the Best Babysitters Ever series , Vol. 2

In this follow-up to Best Babysitters Ever (2019), Malia, Bree, and Dot need money to go see their favorite pop star in concert. Problem is, these middle schoolers don’t have time to increase their babysitting service hours to earn it.

Malia is forced into an internship with her evil older sister and an even more demanding boss. Bree has just adopted a ferocious cat that she has to watch at all times to prevent it from destroying the entire house. Dot has to get ready for the big science fair. To solve their concert fundraising problem, Malia comes up with the idea to subcontract to “satellite” sitters who can babysit in their place while paying them a percentage. After training their new recruits, the girls soon realize it’s more complicated than they imagined. With third-person perspective shifting chapter by chapter, the girls struggle with their responsibilities while slowly regretting their decision as they discover that the satellite sitters threaten to replace their bosses in the hearts of their charges. With lessons smoothly woven into the storytelling—Bree’s cat’s psychotherapist has advice that applies amazingly well to humans, for instance—the narrative neatly balances humor and wisdom. The book’s cover shows Malia to be black, Dot to be white, and Bree to have light brown skin and long, dark hair.

This smart, humorous tale should inspire girls to dream big, experiment, and problem-solve through challenges. (Fiction. 10-12)

Pub Date: Aug. 6, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-328-85090-4

Page Count: 304

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: May 25, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2019

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

Wholesome shading to bland, but well-stocked with exotic creatures and locales, plus an agreeable cast headed by a child...


From the Keeper of the Lost Cities series , Vol. 1

A San Diego preteen learns that she’s an elf, with a place in magic school if she moves to the elves’ hidden realm.

Having felt like an outsider since a knock on the head at age 5 left her able to read minds, Sophie is thrilled when hunky teen stranger Fitz convinces her that she’s not human at all and transports her to the land of Lumenaria, where the ageless elves live. Taken in by a loving couple who run a sanctuary for extinct and mythical animals, Sophie quickly gathers friends and rivals at Foxfire, a distinctly Hogwarts-style school. She also uncovers both clues to her mysterious origins and hints that a rash of strangely hard-to-quench wildfires back on Earth are signs of some dark scheme at work. Though Messenger introduces several characters with inner conflicts and ambiguous agendas, Sophie herself is more simply drawn as a smart, radiant newcomer who unwillingly becomes the center of attention while developing what turn out to be uncommonly powerful magical abilities—reminiscent of the younger Harry Potter, though lacking that streak of mischievousness that rescues Harry from seeming a little too perfect. The author puts her through a kidnapping and several close brushes with death before leaving her poised, amid hints of a higher destiny and still-anonymous enemies, for sequels.

Wholesome shading to bland, but well-stocked with exotic creatures and locales, plus an agreeable cast headed by a child who, while overly fond of screaming, rises to every challenge. (Fantasy. 10-12)

Pub Date: Oct. 2, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-4424-4593-2

Page Count: 496

Publisher: Aladdin

Review Posted Online: July 17, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2012

Did you like this book?

On equal footing with a garden-variety potato.


The new kid in school endures becoming the school mascot.

Ben Hardy has never cared for potatoes, and this distaste has become a barrier to adjusting to life in his new Idaho town. His school’s mascot is the Spud, and after a series of misfortunes, Ben is enlisted to don the potato costume and cheer on his school’s team. Ben balances his duties as a life-sized potato against his desperate desire to hide the fact that he’s the dork in the suit. After all, his cute new crush, Jayla, wouldn’t be too impressed to discover Ben’s secret. The ensuing novel is a fairly boilerplate middle–grade narrative: snarky tween protagonist, the crush that isn’t quite what she seems, and a pair of best friends that have more going on than our hero initially believes. The author keeps the novel moving quickly, pushing forward with witty asides and narrative momentum so fast that readers won’t really mind that the plot’s spine is one they’ve encountered many times before. Once finished, readers will feel little resonance and move on to the next book in their to-read piles, but in the moment the novel is pleasant enough. Ben, Jayla, and Ben’s friend Hunter are white while Ellie, Ben’s other good pal, is Latina.

On equal footing with a garden-variety potato. (Fiction. 10-12)

Pub Date: March 24, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-593-11866-5

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: Nov. 23, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2019

Did you like this book?