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THE LIFTERS

While the author’s belief in the importance of helping others and finding meaningful outlets for creativity are laudable,...

Twelve-year-old Granite Flowerpetal finds an unusual way to raise the spirits of his family members and bring happiness and prosperity to his new hometown.

Gran, as he calls himself, isn’t looking forward to the move to Carousel. But he, his sister, Maisie, and their mother and father head there in hopes of steady work. Sadly, that’s not the case, and Eggers’ text obliquely reveals that the stress of financial instability creates an ongoing domestic conflict. Gran, meanwhile, attempts to find his place in a new school. He fixates on classmate Catalina Catalan, despite her less-than-friendly actions, and discovers that she’s involved in a quirky effort to protect the town from a malevolent force known as the Hollows. Characterization is slight. Maisie has a propensity for vomiting, Gran’s mother uses a wheelchair, and both Catalina and Gran are small for their ages. One character appears to be Latinx; all others read as white. Limited action and ponderous pronouncements further weaken the story’s appeal. Efforts at offbeat humor, such as the secondary character who blames all of the town’s problems on moose attacks, serve only to emphasize the overall bleakness of tone.

While the author’s belief in the importance of helping others and finding meaningful outlets for creativity are laudable, the dull and joyless vehicle he’s created to convey them likely won’t convince many readers . (Fiction. 10-12)

Pub Date: April 24, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5247-6416-6

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: Jan. 12, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2018

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MILLIONAIRES FOR THE MONTH

Cinematic, over-the-top decadence, a tense race against time, and lessons on what’s truly valuable.

A reward of $5,000,000 almost ruins everything for two seventh graders.

On a class trip to New York City, Felix and Benji find a wallet belonging to social media billionaire Laura Friendly. Benji, a well-off, chaotic kid with learning disabilities, swipes $20 from the wallet before they send it back to its owner. Felix, a poor, shy, rule-follower, reluctantly consents. So when Laura Friendly herself arrives to give them a reward for the returned wallet, she’s annoyed. To teach her larcenous helpers a lesson, Laura offers them a deal: a $20,000 college scholarship or slightly over $5 million cash—but with strings attached. The boys must spend all the money in 30 days, with legal stipulations preventing them from giving anything away, investing, or telling anyone about it. The glorious windfall quickly grows to become a chore and then a torment as the boys appear increasingly selfish and irresponsible to the adults in their lives. They rent luxury cars, hire a (wonderful) philosophy undergrad as a chauffeur, take their families to Disney World, and spend thousands on in-app game purchases. Yet, surrounded by hedonistically described piles of loot and filthy lucre, the boys long for simpler fundamentals. The absorbing spending spree reads like a fun family film, gleefully stuffed with the very opulence it warns against. Major characters are White.

Cinematic, over-the-top decadence, a tense race against time, and lessons on what’s truly valuable. (mathematical explanations) (Fiction. 10-12)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-593-17525-5

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: June 29, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2020

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THE LAST LAST-DAY-OF-SUMMER

From the Legendary Alston Boys series , Vol. 1

This can’t be the last we ever hear of the Legendary Alston Boys of the purely surreal Logan County—imaginative,...

Can this really be the first time readers meet the Legendary Alston Boys of Logan County? Cousins and veteran sleuths Otto and Sheed Alston show us that we are the ones who are late to their greatness.

These two black boys are coming to terms with the end of their brave, heroic summer at Grandma’s, with a return to school just right around the corner. They’ve already got two keys to the city, but the rival Epic Ellisons—twin sisters Wiki and Leen—are steadily gaining celebrity across Logan County, Virginia, and have in hand their third key to the city. No way summer can end like this! These young people are powerful, courageous, experienced adventurers molded through their heroic commitment to discipline and deduction. They’ve got their shared, lifesaving maneuvers committed to memory (printed in a helpful appendix) and ready to save any day. Save the day they must, as a mysterious, bendy gentleman and an oversized, clingy platypus have been unleashed on the city of Fry, and all the residents and their belongings seem to be frozen in time and place. Will they be able to solve this one? With total mastery, Giles creates in Logan County an exuberant vortex of weirdness, where the commonplace sits cheek by jowl with the utterly fantastic, and populates it with memorable characters who more than live up to their setting.

This can’t be the last we ever hear of the Legendary Alston Boys of the purely surreal Logan County—imaginative, thrill-seeking readers, this is a series to look out for. (Fantasy. 10-12)

Pub Date: April 2, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-328-46083-7

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Versify/HMH

Review Posted Online: Jan. 14, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2019

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