A smart, peppery, action-packed plot teams up with playful, astute characters.

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THE PRINCESS AND THE PAGE

A magical pen leads 12-year-old white Keira Harding on a dark fairy-tale adventure.

During a robbery at her home, Keira runs to her parents’ bedroom to find a phone and call for help. Instead, she finds a glowing antique pen and, in desperation, writes a list of what to do. To her amazement, everything on the list appears to come true. Keira keeps the pen (hiding her possession of it from her parents) and uses it to write a fairy tale for a story contest—in direct contravention of her mother’s seemingly unreasonable command that she not write any stories ever. When her story wins the contest and Keira, her mother, and Bella, Keira’s brown-skinned, black-haired best friend, go to France to stay for a week in the Château de Chenonceau as the prize, the girls are thrilled—at first. At the castle, strange events transpire, and Keira cannot help but notice that they have an eerie resemblance to the fairy tale she wrote. Keira’s first-person, present-tense narration, with a close eye to detail, oscillates between mature observations and lighthearted girl-stuff. It works. The story’s overarching theme of the power of words is timely and poignant—but the book’s cover art imparts a clichéd Disney-esque look that may turn off more serious readers.

A smart, peppery, action-packed plot teams up with playful, astute characters. (Fantasy. 9-12)

Pub Date: March 28, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-545-92409-2

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Dec. 6, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2016

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However the compelling fitness of theme and event and the apt but unexpected imagery (the opening sentences compare the...

TUCK EVERLASTING

At a time when death has become an acceptable, even voguish subject in children's fiction, Natalie Babbitt comes through with a stylistic gem about living forever. 

Protected Winnie, the ten-year-old heroine, is not immortal, but when she comes upon young Jesse Tuck drinking from a secret spring in her parents' woods, she finds herself involved with a family who, having innocently drunk the same water some 87 years earlier, haven't aged a moment since. Though the mood is delicate, there is no lack of action, with the Tucks (previously suspected of witchcraft) now pursued for kidnapping Winnie; Mae Tuck, the middle aged mother, striking and killing a stranger who is onto their secret and would sell the water; and Winnie taking Mae's place in prison so that the Tucks can get away before she is hanged from the neck until....? Though Babbitt makes the family a sad one, most of their reasons for discontent are circumstantial and there isn't a great deal of wisdom to be gleaned from their fate or Winnie's decision not to share it. 

However the compelling fitness of theme and event and the apt but unexpected imagery (the opening sentences compare the first week in August when this takes place to "the highest seat of a Ferris wheel when it pauses in its turning") help to justify the extravagant early assertion that had the secret about to be revealed been known at the time of the action, the very earth "would have trembled on its axis like a beetle on a pin." (Fantasy. 9-11)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 1975

ISBN: 0312369816

Page Count: 164

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: April 13, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 1975

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SPACE CASE

From the Moon Base Alpha series , Vol. 1

When Dr. Holtz’s body is discovered just outside the lunar colony, everyone assumes he made a mistake putting on his spacesuit—but 12-year-old Dashiell “Dash” Gibson has reason to believe this was no accident.

Earth’s first space base has been a living hell for Dash. There’s not much to do on the moon besides schoolwork and virtual-reality gaming, and there’s only a handful of kids his age up there with him. The chance to solve a murder is exactly the type of excitement Dash needs. As clues are found and secrets are uncovered, Dash comes to understand that some of the base’s residents aren’t what they seem to be. With a small cast of characters supplying an excellent variety of suspects, Gibbs creates the best kind of “murder on a train” mystery. The genius, however, is putting the train in space. Closed quarters and techno–mumbo-jumbo add delightful color to the proceedings. Thankfully, the author doesn’t let the high-concept setting overshadow the novel’s mystery. The whodunit is smartly paced and intricately plotted. Best of all, the reveal is actually worth all the buildup. Thrillers too often fly off the rails in their final moments, but the author’s steady hand keeps everything here on track.

Fully absorbing. (Mystery. 9-12)

Pub Date: Sept. 16, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4424-9486-2

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 28, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2014

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