TRUE TALENTS

In the opening pages of this sequel to Hidden Talents (1999), 15-year-old Eddie Thalmayer, aka Trash, awakens in a locked room, groggy from being overmedicated. Bowdler, a sadistic adult who seemingly works for the government, wants to harness Eddie’s ability to mentally move objects and create the perfect weapon. Readers learn that Trash is one of the special power teens from Hidden Talents’s Edgeview Alternative School (Torchie, Cheater, Flinch, Lucky and Martin round out the group). Their powers are definitely cool, but they are demonstrated only occasionally during this work, which reads quite long and requires familiarity with the first title. Escaping from the lab, Trash sends out a telepathic message for his buddies to rendezvous in Philadelphia. Bowdler, like crazed school administrator Ed Rooney in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, hunts them down. Middle-school readers might enjoy how the teens turn the tables on a deranged adult, but overall, the humor is forced and the danger is not as immediate as Scott Westerfeld’s Midnighters series, which also features teens with psychic talents and packs a greater punch. (Fiction. 10-14)

Pub Date: March 1, 2007

ISBN: 0-765-30977-7

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Starscape/Tom Doherty

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2007

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A bit of envelope-pushing freshens up the formula.

HOCUS POCUS AND THE ALL-NEW SEQUEL

In honor of its 25th anniversary, a Disney Halloween horror/comedy film gets a sequel to go with its original novelization.

Three Salem witches hanged in 1693 for stealing a child’s life force are revived in 1993 when 16-year-old new kid Max completes a spell by lighting a magical candle (which has to be kindled by a virgin to work). Max and dazzling, popular classmate Allison have to keep said witches at bay until dawn to save all of the local children from a similar fate. Fast-forward to 2018: Poppy, daughter of Max and Allison, inadvertently works a spell that sends her parents and an aunt to hell in exchange for the gleeful witches. With help from her best friend, Travis, and classmate Isabella, on whom she has a major crush, Poppy has only hours to keep the weird sisters from working more evil. The witches, each daffier than the last, supply most of the comedy as well as plenty of menace but end up back in the infernal regions. There’s also a talking cat, a talking dog, a gaggle of costumed heroines, and an oblique reference to a certain beloved Halloween movie. Traditional Disney wholesomeness is spiced, not soured, by occasional innuendo and a big twist in the sequel. Poppy and her family are white, while Travis and Isabella are both African-American.

A bit of envelope-pushing freshens up the formula. (Fantasy. 10-15)

Pub Date: July 10, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-368-02003-9

Page Count: 528

Publisher: Freeform/Disney

Review Posted Online: June 17, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2018

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THE LOUD SILENCE OF FRANCINE GREEN

It’s 1949, and 13-year-old Francine Green lives in “the land of ‘Sit down, Francine’ and ‘Be quiet, Francine’ ” at All Saints School for Girls in Los Angeles. When she meets Sophie Bowman and her father, she’s encouraged to think about issues in the news: the atomic bomb, peace, communism and blacklisting. This is not a story about the McCarthy era so much as one about how one girl—who has been trained to be quiet and obedient by her school, family, church and culture—learns to speak up for herself. Cushman offers a fine sense of the times with such cultural references as President Truman, Hopalong Cassidy, Montgomery Clift, Lucky Strike, “duck and cover” and the Iron Curtain. The dialogue is sharp, carrying a good part of this story of friends and foes, guilt and courage—a story that ought to send readers off to find out more about McCarthy, his witch-hunt and the First Amendment. Though not a happily-ever-after tale, it dramatizes how one person can stand up to unfairness, be it in front of Senate hearings or in the classroom. (author’s note) (Fiction. 10-14)

Pub Date: Aug. 14, 2006

ISBN: 0-618-50455-9

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Clarion Books

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2006

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