A smart overall survey sprinkled with choice nuggets of garbage lore. Dig in.

WHAT A WASTE!

WHERE DOES GARBAGE GO?

Eamer proves that garbage can both be highly entertaining and serve as a backdrop to the human story.

This exploration of garbage—its creation and its destination—travels back in time to start at the beginning, to the creation of middens, and moves forward. The book is composed of short chapters that tackle such topics as city garbage and country garbage; plastic; wasted food; and a frankly fascinating chronicle of the disposal and/or reuse of human biological waste. Along the way, a welter of sidebars and brief biographies introduce such concepts as mudlarks (children who patrolled the 19th-century River Thames, which “was thick with garbage, raw sewage, and even rotting corpses,” in search of bits and bobs to sell) and disco rice: “the squirming maggots that thrive in many of [New York City’s] garbage dumpsters.” There is also much promise in these pages, inventive characters who came up with ideas that are helping quell the great trash-dumping problem, such as the invention of the blue recycle box, efforts to salvage the absurd waste of food, and a gent who has turned cigarette butts into stacking pallets. There are also handfuls of practical advice and a serious finger pointed at disposal’s greatest nemesis: plastic. It’s all populated by Edlund’s lightly cartoonish characters—gender-, race-, and species-rich—and landscapes.

A smart overall survey sprinkled with choice nuggets of garbage lore. Dig in. (Nonfiction. 9-12)

Pub Date: March 14, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-55451-919-4

Page Count: 96

Publisher: Annick Press

Review Posted Online: Jan. 17, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2017

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Outstanding suspense.

WILDFIRE

WHEN TREES EXPLODE

A boy, a girl, a venerable Jeep, and a massive wildfire sweeping across the mountains of Maine. It’s the perfect setup for a riveting tale of high suspense.

Sam and Delphy are staying at separate summer camps on the same lake when the threat of a wildfire forces evacuation—but both are inadvertently left behind. Using the survival skills he learned from his deceased father, Sam hikes cross-country until he finds a remote cabin and the old Jeep that will prove to be his salvation. Only later, barreling along a narrow logging road, does he encounter Delphy. With shades of My Side of the Mountain for a modern audience, 2010 Newbery Honoree Philbrick (The Mostly True Adventures of Homer P. Figg) provides the pair of young adolescents, both white, with just enough modern technology to keep the tale credible. It will take all of their courage and wits to survive being lost in the wilderness, even as they are constantly threatened both by the erratic fire and the danger posed by two out-of-control arsonists. Sam’s pithy first-person voice is self-deprecating enough to be fully believable and plays nicely against Delphy’s sometimes less confident but heroically determined character. Short chapters, outstanding cover art, and a breathless pace make this a fine choice for reluctant readers. Interesting backmatter regarding wildfires and survival tips rounds out a thrilling tale.

Outstanding suspense. (Fiction. 9-12)

Pub Date: Sept. 3, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-338-26690-0

Page Count: 208

Publisher: Blue Sky/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: June 10, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2019

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Charming, poignant, and thoughtfully woven.

CLUES TO THE UNIVERSE

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. 27, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2020

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