A fast, positive, athletically aspirational read.

READ REVIEW

THE FASTEST FINISH

From the Junior Ninja Champion series , Vol. 2

The characters from The Competition Begins (2018) face choices and unexpected curveballs along the path to the Junior Ninja Champion finals.

The premiere episode of the reality TV competition is such a hit that the producers decide to add a twist. There will be one more round of semifinals, a wildcard episode, which will send up to 10 new competitors to the finals. Hypercompetitive sports superstar Ty Santiago’s furious—as an alternate, he’s not eligible for another try at one of those new spots. He’s quite grumpy when an aspiring wildcard joins the team at the kid-oriented gym his parents own: Noah Dhawan, a dancer with hidden motives. Despite Ty’s hostility and Izzy’s indifference, Noah (supported enthusiastically by Mackenzie) progresses well using his dancer athleticism and balance against the obstacles (described efficiently in the compact text). As the finals bear down on the cast, Izzy must make a choice between friendship and popularity or being a responsible competitor, and Ty’s in the uncomfortable position of needing something bad to happen to someone in order to compete. When it comes down to it, though, these are good, maturing kids who make good choices. Of the central characters, implied-Latinx Ty, black Kevin, and biracial (Indian/white) Noah balance Izzy, Mackenzie, and JJ, all default white; competing teams display a fair amount of diversity as well. The ending notes the show’s renewal for another season, prompting another installment.

A fast, positive, athletically aspirational read. (Fiction. 9-12)

Pub Date: Jan. 15, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-328-85901-3

Page Count: 160

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: Sept. 30, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2018

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A deftly told story that dramatizes how Danes appointed themselves bodyguards—not only for their king, who was in the habit...

NUMBER THE STARS

The author of the Anastasia books as well as more serious fiction (Rabble Starkey, 1987) offers her first historical fiction—a story about the escape of the Jews from Denmark in 1943.

Five years younger than Lisa in Carol Matas' Lisa's War (1989), Annemarie Johansen has, at 10, known three years of Nazi occupation. Though ever cautious and fearful of the ubiquitous soldiers, she is largely unaware of the extent of the danger around her; the Resistance kept even its participants safer by telling them as little as possible, and Annemarie has never been told that her older sister Lise died in its service. When the Germans plan to round up the Jews, the Johansens take in Annemarie's friend, Ellen Rosen, and pretend she is their daughter; later, they travel to Uncle Hendrik's house on the coast, where the Rosens and other Jews are transported by fishing boat to Sweden. Apart from Lise's offstage death, there is little violence here; like Annemarie, the reader is protected from the full implications of events—but will be caught up in the suspense and menace of several encounters with soldiers and in Annemarie's courageous run as courier on the night of the escape. The book concludes with the Jews' return, after the war, to homes well kept for them by their neighbors.

A deftly told story that dramatizes how Danes appointed themselves bodyguards—not only for their king, who was in the habit of riding alone in Copenhagen, but for their Jews. (Historical fiction. 9-12)

Pub Date: April 1, 1989

ISBN: 0547577095

Page Count: 156

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin

Review Posted Online: Oct. 17, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 1989

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However the compelling fitness of theme and event and the apt but unexpected imagery (the opening sentences compare the...

TUCK EVERLASTING

At a time when death has become an acceptable, even voguish subject in children's fiction, Natalie Babbitt comes through with a stylistic gem about living forever. 

Protected Winnie, the ten-year-old heroine, is not immortal, but when she comes upon young Jesse Tuck drinking from a secret spring in her parents' woods, she finds herself involved with a family who, having innocently drunk the same water some 87 years earlier, haven't aged a moment since. Though the mood is delicate, there is no lack of action, with the Tucks (previously suspected of witchcraft) now pursued for kidnapping Winnie; Mae Tuck, the middle aged mother, striking and killing a stranger who is onto their secret and would sell the water; and Winnie taking Mae's place in prison so that the Tucks can get away before she is hanged from the neck until....? Though Babbitt makes the family a sad one, most of their reasons for discontent are circumstantial and there isn't a great deal of wisdom to be gleaned from their fate or Winnie's decision not to share it. 

However the compelling fitness of theme and event and the apt but unexpected imagery (the opening sentences compare the first week in August when this takes place to "the highest seat of a Ferris wheel when it pauses in its turning") help to justify the extravagant early assertion that had the secret about to be revealed been known at the time of the action, the very earth "would have trembled on its axis like a beetle on a pin." (Fantasy. 9-11)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 1975

ISBN: 0312369816

Page Count: 164

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: April 13, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 1975

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