LEGEND OF BURIAL ISLAND

Crossman draws on his knowledge of Maine’s Penobscot Bay for his third installment of the Bean and Ab mysteries, featuring teenagers who are “magnets for mischief.” Previous adventures included a kidnapping, a sunken submarine and long-dead pirates. Now Ben’s best friend Spooky is missing and is later found clinging half-dead to a buoy 15 miles out. Bean risks his life to save his friend and now must solve the mystery of what exactly happened. Rooted in Maine history and legend, this is as much a story of friendship as it is a mystery. Though characterization is solid, the third-person narration is distancing, with too much explaining that diffuses tension and kills momentum. Though it’s an ambitious novel that doesn’t quite succeed in orchestrating the exciting tale it might have been, there’s plenty for the dedicated reader to like. (Mystery. 10-14)

Pub Date: May 1, 2009

ISBN: 978-0-89272-785-8

Page Count: 208

Publisher: Down East

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2009

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Nixon (Will’s Story, not reviewed, etc.) has built a solid reputation as a master of mysteries for young teenagers, and in...

PLAYING FOR KEEPS

Sixteen-year-old Rose Ann, on a Caribbean cruise with her grandmother, becomes involved in the political intrigue surrounding the defection of Enrique, a teenaged Cuban baseball player. His uncle, a well-known major-leaguer who had previously defected from Cuba, has smuggled him on board. Rose discovers the plan and enlists the help of other teenagers to keep Enrique safely under wraps so that he can set foot on American soil. If he’s captured at sea, he must be returned to Cuba. This is no lighthearted romp, for Enrique’s entire future (and possibly his very life) is at stake. Cuban officials attempt to frame him for a murder, so they might arrest him and remove him from the ship. Other murders are committed and must be solved. Sprinkle in parent problems, romance, and a little teen angst and you have a fast-paced, engaging mystery. It is by no means a perfect example of the genre: some of the clues are a little obvious and several of the characters are one-dimensional. Story elements are introduced and then dropped with a thud, violating even the most basic concept of the red herring. However, Rose is a delightful character. She is observant, intelligent, compassionate, and downright plucky. Enrique’s situation is compelling and timely.

Nixon (Will’s Story, not reviewed, etc.) has built a solid reputation as a master of mysteries for young teenagers, and in spite of its flaws, this one is sure to please her fans. (Fiction. 12-14)

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-385-32759-5

Page Count: 220

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2001

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FEATHER BOY

A British import with Cormier-like undertones that explores the twinned themes of fear and courage. Robert, narrator of the tale, is “the class squit”—timorous and awkward, he is the easy butt of the vicious and charismatic Niker. He is unutterably lonely; although he has a loving relationship with his mother, she is hardly ever at home as she works to support the two of them in the wake of the departure of Robert’s father some years previous. When the class begins a project to match students with residents of a nearby nursing home to share life experiences, Robert finds himself paired with the imperious and slightly mad Mrs. Sorrel, who directs him to go to a condemned apartment building. Robert’s unwilling investigation leads to both a subtle but profound change in his relationship with Niker and an intense, almost mystical, attachment to the dying Mrs. Sorrel. There is a touch of the surreal in the telling of the story as Robert shifts his focus from his own misery to the pain, both past and present, of Mrs. Sorrel, and attempts to save her life by recreating the pattern of a Cree variant on the Selkie myth. Singer, a newcomer to writing for children, here displays a terrific sense of voice—“How come grown-ups are always so smart about your life, but not quite so smart about their own?”—and an ability to develop character, as she allows Robert to move from self-absorption and self-pity to real strength and an understanding that “you make your own luck.” The setting, a seaside British town in autumn, is beautifully realized, and the publisher should be congratulated for refraining from Americanizing most Briticisms. The metaphors of feathers and flight are omnipresent to the point of obviousness and Mrs. Sorrel herself is drawn with a regrettable lack of subtlety, but Robert’s voice, alternately wry and yearning, and the ambitious reach of the narrative carry the show. (Fiction. 10-14)

Pub Date: April 9, 2002

ISBN: 0-385-72980-4

Page Count: 208

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2002

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