Sibling evacuees find a seemingly abandoned baby on a Yorkshire dale.

At the start of World War II, Lizzie, 10, and her 7-year-old brother, Peter, are sent from Hull into the countryside to be fostered with a nearly catatonic woman named Elsie. When Lizzie brings home an infant she finds lying on a blanket in a field, Elsie springs to life, thinking that the baby is her dead child returned. In actuality, the baby is a Roma child reluctantly left behind by her elder brother, Elijah, when brutish Bill forces him to go rabbit hunting. Within hours, many, including the village policeman, know the identity of the baby—whose mother is frantically searching for her—but all independently decide that the baby should stay with the mentally ill woman. Only young Lizzie seems to have any morality. Adults thwart her until, teamed with Elijah, she pulls off a complicated rescue. Illogical plot points and inconsistent characterization doom this debut. Why would Bill endanger an infant? Why would Elijah agree? And if prejudice toward the Roma is the reason the villagers don't return the baby, why don't they realize the baby herself is one? Blackford writes smoothly in third-person chapters that shift between Lizzie (in which Elijah and his people are called Gypsies) and Elijah (in which they are called Travelers), and her historical details are well-done, but she needs to find a better story.

Skip. (Historical fiction. 8-10)

Pub Date: Jan. 12, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-544-57099-3

Page Count: 192

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: Sept. 16, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2015

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Move over Ramona Quimby, Portland has another neighbor you have to meet! (Fiction. 8-10)


Ryan Hart is navigating the fourth grade and all its challenges with determination.

Her mom named her Ryan because it means “king,” and she wanted Ryan to feel powerful every time she heard her name; Ryan knows it means she is a leader. So when changes occur or disaster strikes, budding chef Ryan does her best to find the positive and “make sunshine.” When her dad is laid off from the post office, the family must make adjustments that include moving into a smaller house, selling their car, and changing how they shop for groceries. But Ryan gets to stay at Vernon Elementary, and her mom still finds a way to get her the ingredients she needs to practice new recipes. Her older brother, Ray, can be bossy, but he finds little ways to support her, especially when she is down—as does the whole family. Each episodic chapter confronts Ryan with a situation; intermittently funny, frustrating, and touching, they should be familiar and accessible to readers, as when Ryan fumbles her Easter speech despite careful practice. Ryan, her family, and friends are black, and Watson continues to bring visibility to both Portland, Oregon, generally and its black community specifically, making another wonderful contribution that allows black readers to see themselves and all readers to find a character they can love.

Move over Ramona Quimby, Portland has another neighbor you have to meet! (Fiction. 8-10)

Pub Date: April 28, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5476-0056-4

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Review Posted Online: Jan. 21, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2020

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An endlessly endearing story of three girls’ pursuit of friendship and the beauty and challenge of what it means to be 10


Grace, Jada, and Malia overcome fear and loneliness with the help of a mysterious treasure box.

Being 10 isn’t easy, especially when you’re painfully shy and your best friend moves away, a new baby sister is on the way, or your mom left your family when you were little. For Grace, Malia, and Jade, respectively, these challenges cloud the summer before the start of fifth grade. But when they each discover a treasure box at the local library, their lives begin to fill with bright, new possibilities for creating art and making friends. As the girls fill the special boxes with treasures of their own, they are drawn closer to one another and to finding their places in the world, at a new school, and within their own families. Alternating chapters reveal each girl’s personal struggles and the pivotal role of art—painting, music, poetry—in her growth and healing. Their stories are told in intimate detail, illuminating all that’s beautiful and tough about being 10. Based on the cover art and details from the narrative, Grace is white, Jada is black, and Malia is brown. Their differences are woven into the fabric of this touching, engrossing story about dealing with change and working through fears. The Salt Lake City, Utah, setting is fresh, the city’s landmarks and landscape adding another layer of richness to the novel.

An endlessly endearing story of three girls’ pursuit of friendship and the beauty and challenge of what it means to be 10 . (Fiction. 8-10)

Pub Date: Oct. 18, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-06-241431-1

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: July 20, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2016

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