Readers should readily respond to Jessie’s mission of self-improvement. (Fiction. 10-15)


For quiet eighth-grader Jessie, an assignment about superheroes evolves into a journey of transformation.

Jessie’s superhero research spans the duration of the school year, concluding with a final debate-style competition in which Jessie must demonstrate why her selection is the ultimate superhero. When a longtime rival compares her to a sidekick, Jessie decides to apply her superhero’s qualities to her own life. She soon compiles a list of Batgirl’s traits, including physical and mental capabilities, to nurture. In diary format, Jessie chronicles her diligent research and attempts at self-improvement. While the journal entries convey Jessie’s enthusiasm, they also reveal her insecurities. Pearn’s illustrations further illuminate Jessie’s personality, capturing her inquisitiveness and determination and comically portraying her efforts with zing. Through Jessie’s investigations and discoveries, Zehr provides information on a variety of topics: pioneering women, martial arts, scientific and technological advancements, nutrition and comic-book lore. An aspiring journalist, Jessie conducts a portion of her research through interviews, and Zehr incorporates the actual words of several notable individuals in the narrative. The written responses of a police sergeant, filmmaker, astronaut, Olympic athletes and others to Jessie’s questions motivate her to continue pursuing her goals. Jessie enters the final debate with a newfound wisdom gleaned from her endeavors.

Readers should readily respond to Jessie’s mission of self-improvement. (Fiction. 10-15)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-77041-180-7

Page Count: 254

Publisher: ECW Press

Review Posted Online: July 29, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2014

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An impressive sequel.


Boy and fox follow separate paths in postwar rebuilding.

A year after Peter finds refuge with former soldier Vola, he prepares to leave to return to his childhood home. He plans to join the Junior Water Warriors, young people repurposing the machines and structures of war to reclaim reservoirs and rivers poisoned in the conflict, and then to set out on his own to live apart from others. At 13, Peter is competent and self-contained. Vola marvels at the construction of the floor of the cabin he’s built on her land, but the losses he’s sustained have left a mark. He imposes a penance on himself, reimagining the story of rescuing the orphaned kit Pax as one in which he follows his father’s counsel to kill the animal before he could form a connection. He thinks of his heart as having a stone inside it. Pax, meanwhile, has fathered three kits who claim his attention and devotion. Alternating chapters from the fox’s point of view demonstrate Pax’s care for his family—his mate, Bristle; her brother; and the three kits. Pax becomes especially attached to his daughter, who accompanies him on a journey that intersects with Peter’s and allows Peter to not only redeem his past, but imagine a future. This is a deftly nuanced look at the fragility and strength of the human heart. All the human characters read as White. Illustrations not seen.

An impressive sequel. (Fiction. 10-14)

Pub Date: Sept. 7, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-06-293034-7

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: June 29, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2021

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The inevitable go-to for Percy’s legions of fans who want the stories behind his stories.


Percy Jackson takes a break from adventuring to serve up the Greek gods like flapjacks at a church breakfast.

Percy is on form as he debriefs readers concerning Chaos, Gaea, Ouranos and Pontus, Dionysus, Ariadne and Persephone, all in his dude’s patter: “He’d forgotten how beautiful Gaea could be when she wasn’t all yelling up in his face.” Here they are, all 12 Olympians, plus many various offspring and associates: the gold standard of dysfunctional families, whom Percy plays like a lute, sometimes lyrically, sometimes with a more sardonic air. Percy’s gift, which is no great secret, is to breathe new life into the gods. Closest attention is paid to the Olympians, but Riordan has a sure touch when it comes to fitting much into a small space—as does Rocco’s artwork, which smokes and writhes on the page as if hit by lightning—so readers will also meet Makaria, “goddess of blessed peaceful deaths,” and the Theban Teiresias, who accidentally sees Athena bathing. She blinds him but also gives him the ability to understand the language of birds. The atmosphere crackles and then dissolves, again and again: “He could even send the Furies after living people if they committed a truly horrific crime—like killing a family member, desecrating a temple, or singing Journey songs on karaoke night.”

The inevitable go-to for Percy’s legions of fans who want the stories behind his stories. (Mythology. 10-14)

Pub Date: Aug. 19, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4231-8364-8

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion

Review Posted Online: June 29, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2014

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