A quick and enjoyable sortie into the world of preteen family friendships and escapades.


Four children find enchantment while exploring a seaside cave in this debut middle-grade novel.

Twelve-year-old Addie Heath lives outside of London and isn’t looking forward to seeing her three rambunctious cousins again: Bodie, 6; Beanie, 9; and Jack, 13. They’ll all be staying at their grandparents’ beach house on the American East Coast. Spending time with her relatives would be bad enough. What makes it worse is that Grandma Winnie has died, and while Addie would prefer to be alone with her memories, she knows that her cousins will intrude on her sadness. The boys, for their part, are wary of Addie. To them, she seems aloof, and her accent makes her sound stuck-up. But Bodie’s excitement brings them together. When Addie dreams of a moonstone and Bodie finds one just like it, the cousins go exploring and uncover a secret realm linked somehow to their grandma’s past. Grandma Winnie was a Native American. Only Jack has inherited her looks, but all four children share an appreciation of her spirituality. When they find themselves in the Garden of Choice, with dangers ahead and only their family bond and a spirit wolf to protect them, Addie and her cousins must make peace with one another and with their grandma’s passing. Hobbs’ writing harks back to the days of Enid Blyton, with her multiage characters embarking on safe escapades while learning simple but important life lessons. The four Heath cousins are distinct in personality and speech and are vividly depicted across 10 black-and-white images by debut illustrator Parame. Addie’s love for her grandma is evident, as is her sense of loss, while her social conflict—she and the boys being forced together despite hardly knowing one another—is one that many children will relate to. The quest narrative itself is perhaps a little undemanding (the children have few genuine choices to make), but the Native American aspect lends it substance, and its value in any case lies in the forging of family ties. The gently adventurous story nips along at a good pace for middle-grade readers.

A quick and enjoyable sortie into the world of preteen family friendships and escapades.

Pub Date: Oct. 31, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-5434-5422-2

Page Count: 74

Publisher: XlibrisUS

Review Posted Online: March 26, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2018

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A first novel, this is also a first person account of Scout's (Jean Louise) recall of the years that led to the ending of a mystery, the breaking of her brother Jem's elbow, the death of her father's enemy — and the close of childhood years. A widower, Atticus raises his children with legal dispassion and paternal intelligence, and is ably abetted by Calpurnia, the colored cook, while the Alabama town of Maycomb, in the 1930's, remains aloof to their divergence from its tribal patterns. Scout and Jem, with their summer-time companion, Dill, find their paths free from interference — but not from dangers; their curiosity about the imprisoned Boo, whose miserable past is incorporated in their play, results in a tentative friendliness; their fears of Atticus' lack of distinction is dissipated when he shoots a mad dog; his defense of a Negro accused of raping a white girl, Mayella Ewell, is followed with avid interest and turns the rabble whites against him. Scout is the means of averting an attack on Atticus but when he loses the case it is Boo who saves Jem and Scout by killing Mayella's father when he attempts to murder them. The shadows of a beginning for black-white understanding, the persistent fight that Scout carries on against school, Jem's emergence into adulthood, Calpurnia's quiet power, and all the incidents touching on the children's "growing outward" have an attractive starchiness that keeps this southern picture pert and provocative. There is much advance interest in this book; it has been selected by the Literary Guild and Reader's Digest; it should win many friends.

Pub Date: July 11, 1960

ISBN: 0060935464

Page Count: 323

Publisher: Lippincott

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 1960

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Nothing original, but in Hilderbrand’s hands it’s easy to get lost in the story.


Privileged 30-somethings hide from their woes in Nantucket.

Hilderbrand’s saga follows the lives of Melanie, Brenda and Vicki. Vicki, alpha mom and perfect wife, is battling late-stage lung cancer and, in an uncharacteristically flaky moment, opts for chemotherapy at the beach. Vicki shares ownership of a tiny Nantucket cottage with her younger sister Brenda. Brenda, a literature professor, tags along for the summer, partly out of familial duty, partly because she’s fleeing the fallout from her illicit affair with a student. As for Melanie, she gets a last minute invite from Vicki, after Melanie confides that Melanie’s husband is having an affair. Between Melanie and Brenda, Vicki feels her two young boys should have adequate supervision, but a disastrous first day on the island forces the trio to source some outside help. Enter Josh, the adorable and affable local who is hired to tend to the boys. On break from college, Josh learns about the pitfalls of mature love as he falls for the beauties in the snug abode. Josh likes beer, analysis-free relationships and hot older women. In a word, he’s believable. In addition to a healthy dose of testosterone, the novel is balanced by powerful descriptions of Vicki’s bond with her two boys. Emotions run high as she prepares for death.

Nothing original, but in Hilderbrand’s hands it’s easy to get lost in the story.

Pub Date: July 2, 2007

ISBN: 978-0-316-01858-6

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2007

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