Friends and School Book Reviews

THE MONSTER RETURNS by Peter McCarty
FANTASY
Released: Jan. 31, 2012

"It might lack the mild menace of its predecessor, but it satisfies in its supply of companionship all around. (Picture book. 3-6)"
Jeremy hatches a plan to cope with his monster's unexpected return. Read full book review >
HAVOC by Jeff Sampson
FAIRY TALES, FOLKTALES AND MYTHS
Released: Jan. 24, 2012

"Plenty of thrilling action, clearly with more to come. (Paranormal thriller. 12 & up)"
The second exciting installment in the continuing saga of a dorky daytime girl who morphs into a savvy, hot chick and/or werewolf at night. Read full book review >

ODDFELLOW'S ORPHANAGE by Emily Winfield Martin
FANTASY
Released: Jan. 24, 2012

"An uneven effort; still, youngsters not ready for Harry Potter will find comfort here. (Fantasy. 7-10)"
An undeniably charming story about the characters, albeit one-dimensional, who form a family at Oddfellow's Orphanage. Read full book review >
PINK SMOG by Francesca Lia Block
FAMILY AND GROWING UP
Released: Jan. 24, 2012

"A dreamlike tale of bullying and coping that owes slightly too much to nostalgia to work. (Fiction. 12-15)"
Does this failed prequel to the Phoenix Award-winning Weetzie Bat (1989) at least succeed as a standalone novel? Read full book review >
FORBIDDEN by Syrie James
FANTASY
Released: Jan. 24, 2012

"Lightweight, but the story has some thrills, and the aforementioned genre addicts will enjoy it. (Paranormal romance. 12 & up)"
Yet another paranormal romance, this time with an assortment of angels in a chick-lit setting, that will appeal to those addicted to the genre if few others. Read full book review >

TRY NOT TO BREATHE by Jennifer R. Hubbard
FICTION
Released: Jan. 19, 2012

"Haunting, hopeful and masterfully crafted. (Fiction. 14 & up)"
Evocative symbols, carefully drawn details and hints of romance enrich a spare, redemptive character study. Read full book review >
THE BOOK OF WONDERS by Jasmine Richards
ADVENTURE
Released: Jan. 17, 2012

"A sprightly, accessible series opener recommended for those ready for a change of venue from standard-issue, middle-grade fantasy. (Fantasy. 8-12)"
Dipping into the deep plot well of Middle Eastern fairy and folk tales, this buoyant debut offers a fresh plot, brisk pacing and engaging characters. Read full book review >
MASON DIXON:  BASKETBALL DISASTERS by Claudia Mills
ANIMALS
Released: Jan. 12, 2012

"Altogether, this is an amusing if undemanding account of the typical fourth-grade problems the athletically ungifted face as they make their way through school. (Fiction. 8-11)"
Fourth grader Mason Dixon, in his third series outing, earnestly stumbles from one potential disaster to another, many involving his total basketball ineptitude. Read full book review >
MY HEART WILL NOT SIT DOWN by Mara Rockliff
FICTION
Released: Jan. 10, 2012

"The human capacity to reach out to those who suffer is lovingly and inspiringly rendered. (Picture book. 4-8)"
A moment of communal compassion is remembered in this fictionalized retelling of a too-little-known tale. Read full book review >
CROW by Barbara Wright
FAMILY AND GROWING UP
Released: Jan. 10, 2012

"An intensely moving, first-person narrative of a disturbing historical footnote told from the perspective of a very likable, credible young hero. (historical note) (Historical fiction. 10-12)"
Growing up in Wilmington, N.C., in 1898, a naive black boy and his family are devastated by a racist uprising in this fictionalized account of a little-known historical event. Read full book review >
MAUDIE AND BEAR by Jan Ormerod
ANIMALS
Released: Jan. 5, 2012

"There's fascinating aesthetic composition here, if the relationship doesn't distract. (Picture book. 3-6)"
Picture books are full of odd-couple friendships, plenty of which feature a bear; this example stands out in splendid composition and an unsettling dynamic. Read full book review >
FRACTURE by Megan Miranda
FANTASY
Released: Jan. 3, 2012

"An occasionally thrilling paranormal romance with enough spellbinding incidents to overcome the clichéd components. (Paranormal romantic thriller. 11 & up)"
Eleven full minutes pass before 17-year-old Delaney's best friend Decker pulls her from beneath the ice of a northern Maine lake. Can she recover from the bizarre results of her long period without oxygen? Read full book review >
Kirkus Interview
Luis Alberto Urrea
April 21, 2015

Examining the borders between one nation and another, between one person and another, Luis Alberto Urrea’s latest story collection, The Water Museum, reveals his mastery of the short form. This collection includes the Edgar-award winning "Amapola" and his now-classic "Bid Farewell to Her Many Horses," which had the honor of being chosen for NPR's "Selected Shorts" not once but twice. Urrea has also recently published a poetry collection, Tijuana Book of the Dead, mixing lyricism and colloquial voices, mysticism and the daily grind. We talk to Urrea about both of his new books this week on Kirkus TV. View video >