An eventful coming-of-age novel with vivid, relatable animal characters and the promise of more adventures to come.

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THE FOREVER TIME

From the Wolf & The Warlander series , Vol. 1

A young horse and a wolf pup transcend their natural instincts to form an unlikely bond of friendship in the first of a three-part series for middle-grade readers.

When Ghost, a wild Warlander horse, and his father, Pegasus, stumble upon a dead female wolf and her litter of newborns, the young horse feels an inexplicable tie to the sole surviving pup. He persuades his father to bring him to their pasture to look after. As the little wolf, Seti, grows, he becomes Ghost’s playmate and companion, although the young horse’s parents warn him that one day “he won’t see you as a friend. He’ll see you as his prey.” A dangerous chance encounter with Seti’s father separates them, and, during their time apart, Seti lives as a junior member of his father’s pack, learning how to be a wolf. Although tragedy brings the horse and wolf back together briefly, they can’t deny their natures and their separate destinies. The link between them, however, will prove unbreakable. This action-packed and compassionate story is credited to Davis, the founder of the multiplatinum-selling New Age music group Mannheim Steamroller; the text is written by TV and YA writer Valenti (Last Night at the Monarch Motel, 2013, etc.). It pulls readers into a human-free, natural world of wild forest and pastures where the young animals grow through friendship and adversity. The tale employs a deft blend of authentic animal characteristics and humanlike thoughts and speech (the latter rendered in italics). Realistic charcoal images by Taylor effectively complement mood and action; a subtle design of hoof and paw prints running throughout the pages underscores the theme of interspecies friendship. The book also includes information about the lives and histories of real-life Warlander horses and timber wolves and a brief glossary of story-related words. In addition, there’s a 45-minute CD of “soft atmospheric effects”—rain and thunder, running water, buzzing insects, frogs, and birds—and a bit of musical pageantry and otherworldly sound effects that seem to represent the magical bond between Ghost and Seti.

An eventful coming-of-age novel with vivid, relatable animal characters and the promise of more adventures to come.

Pub Date: N/A

ISBN: 978-0-9656909-2-8

Page Count: 107

Publisher: Mannheim Steamroller LLC

Review Posted Online: July 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2019

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Kin “[find] each other’s lives inscrutable” in this rich, sharp story about the way identity is formed.

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THE VANISHING HALF

Inseparable identical twin sisters ditch home together, and then one decides to vanish.

The talented Bennett fuels her fiction with secrets—first in her lauded debut, The Mothers (2016), and now in the assured and magnetic story of the Vignes sisters, light-skinned women parked on opposite sides of the color line. Desiree, the “fidgety twin,” and Stella, “a smart, careful girl,” make their break from stultifying rural Mallard, Louisiana, becoming 16-year-old runaways in 1954 New Orleans. The novel opens 14 years later as Desiree, fleeing a violent marriage in D.C., returns home with a different relative: her 8-year-old daughter, Jude. The gossips are agog: “In Mallard, nobody married dark....Marrying a dark man and dragging his blueblack child all over town was one step too far.” Desiree's decision seals Jude’s misery in this “colorstruck” place and propels a new generation of flight: Jude escapes on a track scholarship to UCLA. Tending bar as a side job in Beverly Hills, she catches a glimpse of her mother’s doppelgänger. Stella, ensconced in White society, is shedding her fur coat. Jude, so Black that strangers routinely stare, is unrecognizable to her aunt. All this is expertly paced, unfurling before the book is half finished; a reader can guess what is coming. Bennett is deeply engaged in the unknowability of other people and the scourge of colorism. The scene in which Stella adopts her White persona is a tour de force of doubling and confusion. It calls up Toni Morrison’s The Bluest Eye, the book's 50-year-old antecedent. Bennett's novel plays with its characters' nagging feelings of being incomplete—for the twins without each other; for Jude’s boyfriend, Reese, who is trans and seeks surgery; for their friend Barry, who performs in drag as Bianca. Bennett keeps all these plot threads thrumming and her social commentary crisp. In the second half, Jude spars with her cousin Kennedy, Stella's daughter, a spoiled actress.

Kin “[find] each other’s lives inscrutable” in this rich, sharp story about the way identity is formed.

Pub Date: June 2, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-525-53629-1

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Riverhead

Review Posted Online: March 15, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2020

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A love letter to the power of books and friendship.

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THE GIVER OF STARS

Women become horseback librarians in 1930s Kentucky and face challenges from the landscape, the weather, and the men around them.

Alice thought marrying attractive American Bennett Van Cleve would be her ticket out of her stifling life in England. But when she and Bennett settle in Baileyville, Kentucky, she realizes that her life consists of nothing more than staying in their giant house all day and getting yelled at by his unpleasant father, who owns a coal mine. She’s just about to resign herself to a life of boredom when an opportunity presents itself in the form of a traveling horseback library—an initiative from Eleanor Roosevelt meant to counteract the devastating effects of the Depression by focusing on literacy and learning. Much to the dismay of her husband and father-in-law, Alice signs up and soon learns the ropes from the library’s leader, Margery. Margery doesn’t care what anyone thinks of her, rejects marriage, and would rather be on horseback than in a kitchen. And even though all this makes Margery a town pariah, Alice quickly grows to like her. Along with several other women (including one black woman, Sophia, whose employment causes controversy in a town that doesn’t believe black and white people should be allowed to use the same library), Margery and Alice supply magazines, Bible stories, and copies of books like Little Women to the largely poor residents who live in remote areas. Alice spends long days in terrible weather on horseback, but she finally feels happy in her new life in Kentucky, even as her marriage to Bennett is failing. But her powerful father-in-law doesn’t care for Alice’s job or Margery’s lifestyle, and he’ll stop at nothing to shut their library down. Basing her novel on the true story of the Pack Horse Library Project established by the Works Progress Administration in the 1930s, Moyes (Still Me, 2018, etc.) brings an often forgotten slice of history to life. She writes about Kentucky with lush descriptions of the landscape and tender respect for the townspeople, most of whom are poor, uneducated, and grateful for the chance to learn. Although Alice and Margery both have their own romances, the true power of the story is in the bonds between the women of the library. They may have different backgrounds, but their commitment to helping the people of Baileyville brings them together.

A love letter to the power of books and friendship.

Pub Date: Oct. 8, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-399-56248-8

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Pamela Dorman/Viking

Review Posted Online: July 1, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2019

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