DIZZY

Dizzy hears from her mother only once a year—on her birthday. On her 12th birthday, Storm suddenly appears and whisks Dizzy away to live the life of a New Age hippie. Several aspects of this new life are disturbing, but teenaged Finn becomes her friend, mentor, and partner as they care for Mouse, the troubled young son of Storm’s boyfriend. Assured that her father has given permission for the summer experience, Dizzy nonetheless is concerned when he does not answer the postcards she has entrusted to her mother to mail. Then Storm takes off for India, leaving Dizzy and Mouse in the care of Finn’s mother. Dizzy longs for a loving relationship with her mother, but she slowly realizes that Storm is a manipulator who can only be a shadowy figure in her life. Although Cassidy’s melodramatic plot twists are over-the-top, she succeeds in making her characters believable and sympathetic. Not the stuff of which classics are made, but a good read nonetheless. (Fiction. 10-12)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2004

ISBN: 0-670-05936-6

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2004

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WHEN EAGLES FALL

Thirteen-year-old Alexis has been “banished” (her word) by her mother, who lives in San Diego, to International Falls, Minnesota, where her father is the foremost authority on the bald eagle. He heads a small team who are banding eaglets and researching the eagles’ habitat. Alexis is immediately involved and learns quickly, though it’s difficult work and complicated further by the swarms of mosquitoes and hot weather. She resents her father’s authority and the team’s respect for him. In spite of this, she becomes fascinated with the birds and rashly decides to remove a fish lure from an eagle’s nest situated on a nearby island. Though successful in climbing the tree, she lifts an eaglet out of the nest and drops it. Then she loses the paddle to the canoe and finds herself stranded on an island with an injured eaglet. For two days she struggles with a storm, a visiting bear, and hunger. She manages to feed the eaglet and herself through fashioning a crude fishing rod. She finds shelter: an abandoned house on the island obviously not used for years. Surprisingly, it is a bat refuge, full of bat dung, with hundreds of bats returning in the evening. Knowing the eaglet must have assistance, in desperation, she sets the house on fire and is rescued. Throughout these difficulties, she finally allows herself to think of her little brother, who has recently died from cancer. Working through her grief, she realizes her father’s actions, which she so resented at the time, were a result of a grief as deep as her own. The ending is a bit pat, with the eagle flown to a healing center and her parents beginning to talk to each other. The tale moves along well and will be enjoyed particularly by readers of survivalist stories. The author’s note describes her hands-on research with eagle experts and includes several Web sites where naturalists can learn more. (Fiction. 10-12)

Pub Date: June 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-7868-0665-6

Page Count: 144

Publisher: Hyperion

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2002

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GRIFF CARVER, HALLWAY PATROL

Junior Philip Marlowes or Sam Spades—or readers fed up with schoolyard miscreants—will welcome the exploits of this hard-boiled, seen-it-all seventh-grade “hall cop.” Punctuated by recorded interviews with a startled guidance counselor, incident reports filed by his indefatigable, true-blue partner and occasional diary entries and articles written by the school’s gung-ho newspaper editor, the novel tracks how a disgraced Griff (he’s stripped of his badge at one point) and his friends eventually uncover a counterfeit hall-pass ring and bring down some nefarious perps. Griff’s devotion to duty is so uncompromising it’s comical, though not always credible. The first-person voice isn’t consistent, and some of Griff’s potboiler reflections will fall on ears unprimed to noir-ish ’40s-era detective patter. Still, this is a fast-paced read characterized by knowing, kid-friendly humor, and middle-grade readers will enjoy getting to know Hallway Patrolman Carver. (Mystery. 10-12)

Pub Date: April 29, 2010

ISBN: 978-1-59514-276-4

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Razorbill/Penguin

Review Posted Online: Dec. 31, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2010

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