The best Vietnam War novels yet for this age range.



From the Vietnam series , Vol. 2

In the second installment of his Vietnam War series, Lynch follows 18-year-old Ivan Bucyk, one of four friends who pledged to go to war together once one was drafted.

Ivan was the one most excited about going. After all, his dad was in World War II, and Ivan grew up on stories of Patton and North Africa. Trained as an elite sniper, Ivan is special, but, predictably, his experience in Vietnam doesn’t match the stories of heroism he grew up on. Here, it’s not clear who the enemy is. He had figured this war would be like the American Civil War, with a clear North and South, but in Vietnam the enemy is all around and impossible to identify. Ivan has quickly come to realize he was a stupid kid when he arrived; now, with a war he can’t explain, he lives for a simple purpose: “I shoot people. That’s it.” And DERUS—“Date Eligible for Return to US”—has become his religion. Since this volume repeats the opening of the first (I Pledge Allegiance, 2011), it easily stands alone, but the series gains richness from the multiple narratives, boding well for the overall story when all four characters have had their say.

The best Vietnam War novels yet for this age range. (Fiction. 9-13)

Pub Date: April 1, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-545-27026-7

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Feb. 6, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2012

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A bit of envelope-pushing freshens up the formula.


In honor of its 25th anniversary, a Disney Halloween horror/comedy film gets a sequel to go with its original novelization.

Three Salem witches hanged in 1693 for stealing a child’s life force are revived in 1993 when 16-year-old new kid Max completes a spell by lighting a magical candle (which has to be kindled by a virgin to work). Max and dazzling, popular classmate Allison have to keep said witches at bay until dawn to save all of the local children from a similar fate. Fast-forward to 2018: Poppy, daughter of Max and Allison, inadvertently works a spell that sends her parents and an aunt to hell in exchange for the gleeful witches. With help from her best friend, Travis, and classmate Isabella, on whom she has a major crush, Poppy has only hours to keep the weird sisters from working more evil. The witches, each daffier than the last, supply most of the comedy as well as plenty of menace but end up back in the infernal regions. There’s also a talking cat, a talking dog, a gaggle of costumed heroines, and an oblique reference to a certain beloved Halloween movie. Traditional Disney wholesomeness is spiced, not soured, by occasional innuendo and a big twist in the sequel. Poppy and her family are white, while Travis and Isabella are both African-American.

A bit of envelope-pushing freshens up the formula. (Fantasy. 10-15)

Pub Date: July 10, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-368-02003-9

Page Count: 528

Publisher: Freeform/Disney

Review Posted Online: June 17, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2018

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Definitely a continuation rather than a freestanding episode, but the author keeps her ongoing plot galloping along and adds...


From the Wolven series , Vol. 2

An old foe sets a deadly trap for two young werewolves in a sequel framed by family reunions and positively festooned with hideous vampires.

Magical creatures are rising up all over Europe. Recently bitten teen Nat and his shapechanging BF Woody have joined Nat’s father and a traveling circus of fauns, furies and other cryptids (“All the incredible things you are about to see are REAL!” the Ringmaster disingenuously informs excited audiences) in France. Almost immediately, they are attacked by flights of fantastically ugly bloodsuckers under the command of a malign and crafty vampire revived by the previous episode’s über-villain Lucas Scale. Fortunately the lads/cubs have on their side not only Alexandra Fish, hypercompetent young vampire slayer and British secret agent, but Woody’s Wolven relatives—a reclusive clan of particularly powerful white werewolves. Along with vampires that explode in gross showers of gooey ichor when staked, Toft tucks in the odd colorful turn of phrase (“…feeling about as nervous as a small nun at a penguin shoot”) and fart joke to lighten the load. She leaves her doggy buddies at the end alive and resolved to join Fish in putting paid to Scale’s demonic schemes.

Definitely a continuation rather than a freestanding episode, but the author keeps her ongoing plot galloping along and adds an assortment of marvelous new creatures to the cast.   (Fantasy.10-13)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-545-29492-8

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Chicken House/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Sept. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2011

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