A sharp, clear-cut piece that knows life is beautiful and sickness isn’t.

THE SOMEDAY SUITCASE

If two people connect through symbiosis, what happens when one weakens?

Clover and Danny, both 10 and both white, have known each other since birth. They have an unmarred record in the statue game, closing their eyes and striking the same pose; he eats her pizza toppings because she only wants sauce and crust. They’re more than next-door best friends—Clover believes they’re literally symbiotic. Then Danny starts fainting and getting infections. Hospitalizations, specialists, and a long trek to diagnosis arc ensue. Danny has common variable immune deficiency, but it’s not identified until late. With Danny out of school, there’s nobody to fill in the paper outline of Clover in art class—a keen symbol of his absence and her need—so Clover uses her scientist’s heart and acute eye for detail to do a science project on Danny himself. She identifies something that actually improves his medical symptoms: her. There’s magic here—in her personal contribution to his wellness, in their stowaway adventure from Florida to a last-ditch clinic in Vermont, and in Haydu’s quietly superb prose. But Danny’s CVID is serious and worsening, and his improvement from Clover’s nearness is fading. Haydu doesn’t romanticize illness, but she provides comfort through art, science, magic, love, and a purple suitcase.

A sharp, clear-cut piece that knows life is beautiful and sickness isn’t. (Fiction. 10-13)

Pub Date: June 27, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-06-235275-0

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Katherine Tegen/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: March 6, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2017

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A sly, side-splitting hoot from start to finish.

THE MECHANICAL MIND OF JOHN COGGIN

The dreary prospect of spending a lifetime making caskets instead of wonderful inventions prompts a young orphan to snatch up his little sister and flee. Where? To the circus, of course.

Fortunately or otherwise, John and 6-year-old Page join up with Boz—sometime human cannonball for the seedy Wandering Wayfarers and a “vertically challenged” trickster with a fantastic gift for sowing chaos. Alas, the budding engineer barely has time to settle in to begin work on an experimental circus wagon powered by chicken poop and dubbed (with questionable forethought) the Autopsy. The hot pursuit of malign and indomitable Great-Aunt Beauregard, the Coggins’ only living relative, forces all three to leave the troupe for further flights and misadventures. Teele spins her adventure around a sturdy protagonist whose love for his little sister is matched only by his fierce desire for something better in life for them both and tucks in an outstanding supporting cast featuring several notably strong-minded, independent women (Page, whose glare “would kill spiders dead,” not least among them). Better yet, in Boz she has created a scene-stealing force of nature, a free spirit who’s never happier than when he’s stirring up mischief. A climactic clutch culminating in a magnificently destructive display of fireworks leaves the Coggin sibs well-positioned for bright futures. (Illustrations not seen.)

A sly, side-splitting hoot from start to finish. (Adventure. 11-13)

Pub Date: April 12, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-06-234510-3

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Walden Pond Press/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2016

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Likely to sell in spades but a slipshod, slapdash outing from co-authors who usually have higher standards.

BEST NERDS FOREVER

Two young ghosts with unfinished business in this world join forces.

Eighth grade cyclist Finn McAllister decides to undertake a search for the supposedly crazed driver who forced him off the road and over a cliff to his death, but he spends far more of his time attending his own funeral, hovering near his grieving family and his four besties to overhear conversations, and floating through school—skipping the girls’ restroom because he still has some standards—and positively hammering on the realization that wasting any of life’s opportunities can only lead to regret. He discovers that he can still taste ice cream, smell farts, skip stones in the local lake, and use a TV remote. He can also share thoughts with both the living and with Isabella Rojas, the ghost of a classmate who vanished several months previously but is still hanging around, although she is not sure why. Eventually, in a massively contrived climax that leaves both souls ready to move on, Finn comes up with a scheme to produce proof of Isabella’s death to bring closure to her mother and also absolves his hit-and-run driver of fault (for a reason readers will see coming). In this outing, the usually dynamic duo throws together an aimless ramble around a set of flimsy mysteries that fail to coalesce. Finn reads as White; Isabella is cued as Latinx. Final illustrations not seen.

Likely to sell in spades but a slipshod, slapdash outing from co-authors who usually have higher standards. (Paranormal fantasy. 10-13)

Pub Date: May 3, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-316-50024-1

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Jimmy Patterson/HMH Books

Review Posted Online: July 8, 2021

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