The tiny text type may keep readers lacking confidence away; otherwise, cheap thrills aplenty for casual browsers.

SILENT SOLDIERS

From the Warriors! series

Muscular figures in intrepid poses stock this tribute to “stealth warriors” through the ages.

Readers whose awareness of sneaky scouts and assassins begins and ends with ninjas are in for a surprise, as Chambers picks nine other groups of fearsome fighters to join them, including the “Bold Batavi” auxiliaries who fought for ancient Rome, the central African Azande, the “Gritty Gurkhas” of Nepal, and “Hawaii’s Horror Koa.” In his painted reconstructions, Juta portrays burly heroes lurking in bushes to spy or, wielding characteristic weaponry, charging down on dismayed-looking victims. The thrills are strictly superficial, though, as the pictures are not only sans visible blood, but impersonal in composition, with the warriors usually turned away from viewers. Along with general remarks about the history and fearsomeness of each warrior type, the author supplies such facile “facts” (“factoids” would be more accurate) as “Batavi gouged and slashed their enemies’ faces,” and “Maroons used the secret powers of the Obeah spirits to scare the enemy.” In contrast to the all-male lineup here, three of the 10 historical war leaders profiled in the co-published Fierce Fighters are women. Reflecting the Warriors series’ international outlook, in the latter, only two, Alexander the Great and Vlad the Impaler, were Europeans. Pages of further “facts” and specific battles cap both volumes.

The tiny text type may keep readers lacking confidence away; otherwise, cheap thrills aplenty for casual browsers. (map, index) (Nonfiction. 10-13)

Pub Date: April 1, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-4677-9603-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Hungry Tomato/Lerner

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2016

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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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Energizing and compassionate.

OBIE IS MAN ENOUGH

An aspiring transgender Junior Olympian swimmer finds the strength and pride in his identity to race toward his dreams in this debut coming-of-age novel by groundbreaking trans athlete Bailar.

Starting over after his abusive and discriminatory swim coach excluded him from the team, Obie Chang, a biracial (White/Korean) transgender boy worries about catching up to the other boys and proving that he is “man enough.” Although his family supports him, one of his best friends at school and the pool has turned into his biggest bully, and the other is drifting away toward the mean, popular girls. As he dives from the blocks into the challenging waters of seventh grade and swims toward his goal of qualifying for the Junior Olympics, Obie discovers belonging in his community and in himself. Affirming adults—including his parents and grandparents, a new swim coach, and his favorite teacher—play significant supporting roles by offering encouragement without pressure, centering Obie’s feelings, and validating Obie’s right to set his own boundaries. Vulnerable first-person narration explores Obie’s internal conflict about standing up for himself and his desire to connect to his Korean heritage through his relationship with Halmoni, his paternal grandmother. A romance with Charlie, a cisgender biracial (Cuban/White) girl, is gentle and privacy-affirming. Short chapters and the steady pace of external tension balance moments of rumination, grounding them in the ongoing action of Obie’s experiences.

Energizing and compassionate. (author's note, resources, glossary) (Fiction. 10-13)

Pub Date: Sept. 7, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-593-37946-2

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: July 8, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2021

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