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

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. 16, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2017


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


This suspenseful, undersea dystopia should keep middle schoolers hooked.

Several centuries after global warming has devastated the planet, a tyrannical government has taken control of the West Coast of America.

In a small seaside community in what was Southern California, Nere lives with her scientist mother and a pod of trained dolphins. Unbeknownst to Nere, her parents have genetically engineered her and several other children to breathe under water so they can live free there someday. When the government announces its intention to move the entire community inland, Nere’s mother finishes the alterations on the children and sends them away into the sea, where they will try to join Nere’s father’s colony for these new “Neptune children.” Nere and her friends, along with their friendly dolphins, must make their way there under the sea while fighting sharks and avoiding capture by government forces. They communicate telepathically, and Nere is even able to talk with the dolphins. Together with other Neptune children from Southern California, they head north, hiding and fighting all the way. Holyoke keeps her prose well-pitched to her audience, providing enough violence and even death to create suspense but muting it appropriately. She creates an interesting and diverse set of characters, including the dolphins. The science-fiction elements are nothing new, but they are built on good information about oceanography.

This suspenseful, undersea dystopia should keep middle schoolers hooked. (Science fiction. 9-12)

Pub Date: May 21, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-4231-5756-4

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion

Review Posted Online: March 19, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2013

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