Offbeat while also incorporating themes of tolerance, October's tale will have readers rooting for her every step of the...

EXTRAORDINARY OCTOBER

An ordinary girl, an unquenchable itch, a bizarre, spontaneously appearing flower-shaped ankle tattoo—and suddenly, four days before October Fetterhoff's 18th birthday, she begins to change.

The seemingly ordinary white teen is becoming stronger and more agile, can even see in the dark and understand animals and birds. These emerging powers come in handy since somebody is after her and she doesn't know who or why in this well-crafted and gripping quest tale that involves adversarial trolls and fairies and a mysterious evil that threatens to take over two kingdoms, with October in the middle. Told in the first person with understated humor, what begins as a realistic story quickly shifts. October’s affectionate, jokester father, an obese recovering alcoholic, hires a hypnotist to help him lose weight and becomes zombielike; blond, white Walker, one of two incredibly handsome new boys at school who now pursue her, helps October "transplant" through walls when she is attacked by crows and chased by slobbers (troll pets); her Latina friend goes missing, as does her mom, a mycologist. In an auspicious debut for teens, adult author Wagman (Life #6, 2015, etc.) proves particularly adept at mixing genres and maintains a terrific balance between fantastical (and occasional macabre) happenings and genuine teen perceptions.

Offbeat while also incorporating themes of tolerance, October's tale will have readers rooting for her every step of the way. (Fantasy. 12 & up)

Pub Date: Oct. 11, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-63246-036-3

Page Count: 264

Publisher: Ig Publishing

Review Posted Online: Aug. 2, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2016

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THE LIGHTNING THIEF

From the Percy Jackson and the Olympians series , Vol. 1

Edgar Award–winning Riordan leaves the adult world of mystery to begin a fantasy series for younger readers. Twelve-year-old Percy (full name, Perseus) Jackson has attended six schools in six years. Officially diagnosed with ADHD, his lack of self-control gets him in trouble again and again. What if it isn’t his fault? What if all the outrageous incidents that get him kicked out of school are the result of his being a “half-blood,” the product of a relationship between a human and a Greek god? Could it be true that his math teacher Mrs. Dodds transformed into a shriveled hag with bat wings, a Fury, and was trying to kill him? Did he really vanquish her with a pen that turned into a sword? One need not be an expert in Greek mythology to enjoy Percy’s journey to retrieve Zeus’s master bolt from the Underworld, but those who are familiar with the deities and demi-gods will have many an ah-ha moment. Along the way, Percy and his cohort run into Medusa, Cerberus and Pan, among others. The sardonic tone of the narrator’s voice lends a refreshing air of realism to this riotously paced quest tale of heroism that questions the realities of our world, family, friendship and loyalty. (Fantasy. 12-15)

Pub Date: July 1, 2005

ISBN: 0-7868-5629-7

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Hyperion

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2005

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A painful story smartly told, Benjamin’s first solo novel has appeal well beyond a middle school audience.

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THE THING ABOUT JELLYFISH

In middle school, where “Worst Thing” can mean anything from a pimple to public humiliation, Suzy “Zu” Swanson really has a reason to be in crisis: her former best friend has died unexpectedly, and the seventh-grader is literally silenced by grief and confusion.

A chance encounter with a jellyfish display on a school trip gives her focus—for Zu, the venomous Irukandji jellyfish, while rare, provides a possible explanation for the “how” of Franny’s death. And Zu is desperate for answers and relief from her haunting grief and guilt. In seven parts neatly organized around the scientific method as presented by Mrs. Turton, a middle school teacher who really gets the fragility of her students, Zu examines and analyzes past and present. A painful story of friendship made and lost emerges: the inseparable early years, Franny’s pulling away, Zu’s increasing social isolation, and a final attempt by Zu to honor a childhood pact. The author gently paints Zu as a bit of an oddball; not knowing what hair product to use leaves her feeling “like a separate species altogether,” and knowing too many species of jellyfish earns her the nickname Medusa. Surrounded by the cruelty of adolescence, Zu is awkward, smart, methodical, and driven by sadness. She eventually follows her research far beyond the middle school norm, because “ ‘Sometimes things just happen’ is not an explanation. It is not remotely scientific.”

A painful story smartly told, Benjamin’s first solo novel has appeal well beyond a middle school audience. (Fiction. 12 & up)

Pub Date: Sept. 22, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-316-38086-7

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: May 6, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2015

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