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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BURIED ONIONS

Eddie, a young Mexican-American scraping by in the mean streets of Fresno, California, counts four dead relatives and one dead friend in the opening, in-your-face lines of this new novel from Soto (Snapshots from the Wedding, p. 228, etc.). In bleak sentences of whispered beauty, Eddie tells how he dropped out of vocational college and is attempting to get by with odd jobs. His aunt and friends want him to avenge the recent murder of his cousin, but Eddie just wants to find a way out. Everything he tries turns soura stint doing yard work ends when his boss's truck is stolen on Eddie's watchand life is a daily battle for survival. This unrelenting portrait is unsparing in squalid details: The glue sniffers, gangs, bums, casual knifings, filth, and stench are in the forefront of a life without much hope``Laundry wept from the lines, the faded flags of poor, ignorant, unemployable people.'' Soto plays the tale straightthe only sign of a ``happy'' ending is in Eddie's joining the Navy. The result is a sort of Fresno Salaam Bombay without the pockets of humanity that gave the original its charm. A valuable tale, it's one that makes no concessions. (glossary) (Fiction. 12-14)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1997

ISBN: 0-15-201333-4

Page Count: 148

Publisher: Harcourt

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 1997

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