Solid information presented in a sprightly manner that’s sure to appeal.

A breezy text and comic illustrations introduce middle-grade readers to their microbiomes—the trillions of microbes that live in them and on them.

The author of A World in Your Lunch Box (illustrated by Sa Boothroyd, 2012) turns her attention to the world of our own human bodies, making the point that microbes, the tiniest of living things—bacteria, archaea, viruses, fungi, protists, and mites—are vitally important in our lives. Topic by topic, one per double-page spread, Eamer introduces these microscopic "hitchhikers," describes their discovery, our "war" against them, and our subsequent realization that the majority are harmless and even beneficial. She goes on to present both harmful and helpful unseen inhabitants of our skin, lungs, mouth, gut, and even poop. And she goes into a little more detail about the human fight against bad bacteria and how bacteria have fought back by evolving. A final chapter describes ways young readers can attract a variety of different microbes to their personal microbiomes and then care for them. Sidebars feature a cartoon bacterium with a fondness for punny jokes and a series of “Did You Know?” factoids (and one urban legend). The unsourced text is lighthearted but briskly informative, and it has a considerable “eeuww!” factor. The jazzy design and plentiful, brightly colored illustrations add appeal.

Solid information presented in a sprightly manner that’s sure to appeal. (glossary, index) (Nonfiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: Sept. 6, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-77138-332-5

Page Count: 36

Publisher: Kids Can

Review Posted Online: May 31, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2016


Charming, poignant, and thoughtfully woven.

An aspiring scientist and a budding artist become friends and help each other with dream projects.

Unfolding in mid-1980s Sacramento, California, this story stars 12-year-olds Rosalind and Benjamin as first-person narrators in alternating chapters. Ro’s father, a fellow space buff, was killed by a drunk driver; the rocket they were working on together lies unfinished in her closet. As for Benji, not only has his best friend, Amir, moved away, but the comic book holding the clue for locating his dad is also missing. Along with their profound personal losses, the protagonists share a fixation with the universe’s intriguing potential: Ro decides to complete the rocket and hopes to launch mementos of her father into outer space while Benji’s conviction that aliens and UFOs are real compels his imagination and creativity as an artist. An accident in science class triggers a chain of events forcing Benji and Ro, who is new to the school, to interact and unintentionally learn each other’s secrets. They resolve to find Benji’s dad—a famous comic-book artist—and partner to finish Ro’s rocket for the science fair. Together, they overcome technical, scheduling, and geographical challenges. Readers will be drawn in by amusing and fantastical elements in the comic book theme, high emotional stakes that arouse sympathy, and well-drawn character development as the protagonists navigate life lessons around grief, patience, self-advocacy, and standing up for others. Ro is biracial (Chinese/White); Benji is White.

Charming, poignant, and thoughtfully woven. (Fiction. 9-12)

Pub Date: Jan. 12, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-06-300888-5

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Quill Tree Books/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Oct. 26, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2020


Offers a hauntingly truthful view of secrets and strength.

A tale of survival, friendship, and the strength that comes from overcoming fears.

Middle schooler Jac is dealing with the fallout of a real-life nightmare: childhood cancer. But it’s not just the fear of recurrence that she has to handle, but the reality of surviving and carrying the burden of her mom’s constant worry. When Jac discovers a large house that wasn’t there before looming at the end of a street in her suburban New Jersey neighborhood, she worries it’s a hallucination, which could mean a recurrence of her illness. But after her best friend, a boy named Hazel, sees the house too, her sense of adventure takes over. Provoked by a couple of bullies who dare them to enter and then follow them inside, Jac and Hazel explore the house and are met with surprises—like a key with Jac’s likeness on it—that suggest her connection to this strange and terrifying place is personal. Before long, the kids realize they are trapped inside. Shocks follow with every new door they open as they search for an exit and discover ever increasing frights. Delightfully nightmarish visions chase Jac, offering the feel of a thrilling game with twisted and terrifying imagery, as she navigates the house, seeking to understand her connection to this unusual place in this emotionally resonant story. Characters seem to default to White.

Offers a hauntingly truthful view of secrets and strength. (Paranormal. 8-12)

Pub Date: Aug. 16, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-06-313657-1

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Katherine Tegen/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 9, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2022

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