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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 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2007

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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 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2006

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MISS PEREGRINE'S HOME FOR PECULIAR CHILDREN

From the Peculiar Children series , Vol. 1

A trilogy opener both rich and strange, if heavy at the front end.

Riggs spins a gothic tale of strangely gifted children and the monsters that pursue them from a set of eerie, old trick photographs.

The brutal murder of his grandfather and a glimpse of a man with a mouth full of tentacles prompts months of nightmares and psychotherapy for 15-year-old Jacob, followed by a visit to a remote Welsh island where, his grandfather had always claimed, there lived children who could fly, lift boulders and display like weird abilities. The stories turn out to be true—but Jacob discovers that he has unwittingly exposed the sheltered “peculiar spirits” (of which he turns out to be one) and their werefalcon protector to a murderous hollowgast and its shape-changing servant wight. The interspersed photographs—gathered at flea markets and from collectors—nearly all seem to have been created in the late 19th or early 20th centuries and generally feature stone-faced figures, mostly children, in inscrutable costumes and situations. They are seen floating in the air, posing with a disreputable-looking Santa, covered in bees, dressed in rags and kneeling on a bomb, among other surreal images. Though Jacob’s overdeveloped back story gives the tale a slow start, the pictures add an eldritch element from the early going, and along with creepy bad guys, the author tucks in suspenseful chases and splashes of gore as he goes. He also whirls a major storm, flying bullets and a time loop into a wild climax that leaves Jacob poised for the sequel.

A trilogy opener both rich and strange, if heavy at the front end. (Horror/fantasy. 12-14)

Pub Date: June 7, 2011

ISBN: 978-1-59474-476-1

Page Count: 234

Publisher: Quirk Books

Review Posted Online: March 30, 2014

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