Readers will wish their summers were so eventful.

READ REVIEW

THE ISLAND OF DR. LIBRIS

Billy Gillfoyle discovers that a powerful imagination can bring characters from books—and comic books, video games and role-playing-game cards—to life.

Unhappily spending the summer with his mother in a lakeshore cabin she’s rented from a university colleague, the 12-year-old finds no Internet or TV but plenty of books in a locked cabinet. (Finding the key is a relatively easy puzzle.) When he reads The Trials of Hercules in Dr. Xiang Libris’ library, he hears the voices of Hercules and Antaeus outside. They’re fighting on an island just offshore. Reading Robin Hood, he hears the sound of swordplay. When he explores the island the next morning, he meets the characters he heard, not only brought to life, but also interacting with each other. Grabenstein’s similarly powerful imagination unfurls a grand series of adventures in which Billy and neighbor Walter Andrews are pursued by the Sheriff of Nottingham, search for buried treasure with Tom Sawyer and save Billy’s parents’ failing marriage. In this entertaining literary romp, the author includes references to over 20 classic tales, from Aesop’s Fables to Holes. For curious readers, he’s listed the titles at the end, but familiarity with these stories is not required to appreciate this fast-paced fantasy.

Readers will wish their summers were so eventful. (Adventure. 9-13)

Pub Date: March 24, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-385-38844-3

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: Dec. 6, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2014

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

A sly, side-splitting hoot from start to finish.

THE MECHANICAL MIND OF JOHN COGGIN

The dreary prospect of spending a lifetime making caskets instead of wonderful inventions prompts a young orphan to snatch up his little sister and flee. Where? To the circus, of course.

Fortunately or otherwise, John and 6-year-old Page join up with Boz—sometime human cannonball for the seedy Wandering Wayfarers and a “vertically challenged” trickster with a fantastic gift for sowing chaos. Alas, the budding engineer barely has time to settle in to begin work on an experimental circus wagon powered by chicken poop and dubbed (with questionable forethought) the Autopsy. The hot pursuit of malign and indomitable Great-Aunt Beauregard, the Coggins’ only living relative, forces all three to leave the troupe for further flights and misadventures. Teele spins her adventure around a sturdy protagonist whose love for his little sister is matched only by his fierce desire for something better in life for them both and tucks in an outstanding supporting cast featuring several notably strong-minded, independent women (Page, whose glare “would kill spiders dead,” not least among them). Better yet, in Boz she has created a scene-stealing force of nature, a free spirit who’s never happier than when he’s stirring up mischief. A climactic clutch culminating in a magnificently destructive display of fireworks leaves the Coggin sibs well-positioned for bright futures. (Illustrations not seen.)

A sly, side-splitting hoot from start to finish. (Adventure. 11-13)

Pub Date: April 12, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-06-234510-3

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Walden Pond Press/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2016

Did you like this book?

Warm, delicious and filling.

PIE

What do you get when you take some scrumptious pie recipes, stir in a mix-up of a mystery involving an overweight cat and a legacy, then add a sly satirical nod to the Newbery Medal? This irresistible confection.  

In 1955, 10-year-old Alice’s beloved Aunt Polly, the peerless “Pie Queen of Ipswitch,” who has always given away the extraordinary products of her oven simply because it makes her happy, dies. She bequeaths her incomparable piecrust recipe to Lardo, her cat—or does she?—and leaves Lardo to Alice. Thus the stage is set for a rich, layered and funny tale about friendship, family relationships and doing what’s right. The characters are wonderfully drawn. While doing her best to carry on Aunt Polly’s legacy, trying to figure out how to wrest the secret from the cat, dealing with a nefarious woman poking around town and learning about the renowned “Blueberry Medal,” which everyone in town is trying to win, Alice draws closer to her mom, a resolution Aunt Polly would have cherished. Alice and her family eventually discover the solution to the mystery in a plot twist that is both comical and plausible. An epilogue, set in 1995, is deeply poignant and gratifying. In addition to the beautifully wrought story, readers will savor and want to attempt the 14 recipes, each of which precedes a chapter.

Warm, delicious and filling.   (recipes, pie credits) (Historical fiction. 9-12)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-545-27011-3

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Aug. 17, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2011

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet
more