LOST SUMMER

A summer camp story, featuring some minor intrigue, a cabinful of unappealing 12-year-olds, and a predictably happy ending. Still smarting from her parents' divorce, Lydia is not happy about spending two months at Camp Bigelow while her mother goes to school in Florence. Eventually, of course, she changes her mind, but readers may not see why. Under the nose of their oblivious, boy-crazy chaperone Dawn, bunkmate Carla begins a campaign of harassment and petty theft against shy Karen, a born victim. Lydia defends Karen at first, then turns a cold shoulder; meanwhile she struggles under a load of divorce-related guilt and writes to her father. He hasn't been in touch for months, and turns out to be as cold and self-centered as her mother and older sister have told her. Feuer (Paper Doll, 1990, etc.) introduces several characters and nascent subplots, then leaves them undeveloped. Lydia herself, though refreshingly forthright in conversation, doesn't come across as very likeable, and her eventual reconciliation with Karen (whom she not only drops, but also steals from) seems quick and easy. Standard fare with a cast of familiar types and a short menu of personal problems, worked out with the help of wise adult advice. (Fiction. 10-12)

Pub Date: April 28, 1995

ISBN: 0-374-31020-3

Page Count: 185

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 1995

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A quick, agreeable caper, this may spark some discussion even as it entertains.

FINDING MIGHTY

Myla and Peter step into the path of a gang when they unite forces to find Peter’s runaway brother, Randall.

As they follow the graffiti tags that Randall has been painting in honor of the boys’ deceased father, they uncover a sinister history involving stolen diamonds, disappearances, and deaths. It started long ago when the boys’ grandmother, a diamond-cutter, partnered with the head of the gang. She was rumored to have hidden his diamonds before her suspicious death, leaving clues to their whereabouts. Now everyone is searching, including Randall. The duo’s collaboration is initially an unwilling one fraught with misunderstandings. Even after Peter and Myla bond over being the only people of color in an otherwise white school (Myla is Indian-American; mixed-race Peter is Indian, African-American, and white), Peter can’t believe the gang is after Myla. But Myla possesses a necklace that holds a clue. Alternating first-person chapters allow peeks into how Myla, Peter, and Randall unravel the story and decipher clues. Savvy readers will put the pieces together, too, although false leads and red herrings are cleverly interwoven. The action stumbles at times, but it takes place against the rich backdrops of gritty New York City and history-laden Dobbs Ferry and is made all the more colorful by references to graffiti art and parkour.

A quick, agreeable caper, this may spark some discussion even as it entertains. (Mystery. 10-12)

Pub Date: May 30, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4197-2296-7

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Amulet/Abrams

Review Posted Online: Feb. 20, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2017

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THE WATSONS GO TO BIRMINGHAM--1963

Curtis debuts with a ten-year-old's lively account of his teenaged brother's ups and downs. Ken tries to make brother Byron out to be a real juvenile delinquent, but he comes across as more of a comic figure: getting stuck to the car when he kisses his image in a frozen side mirror, terrorized by his mother when she catches him playing with matches in the bathroom, earning a shaved head by coming home with a conk. In between, he defends Ken from a bully and buries a bird he kills by accident. Nonetheless, his parents decide that only a long stay with tough Grandma Sands will turn him around, so they all motor from Michigan to Alabama, arriving in time to witness the infamous September bombing of a Sunday school. Ken is funny and intelligent, but he gives readers a clearer sense of Byron's character than his own and seems strangely unaffected by his isolation and harassment (for his odd look—he has a lazy eye—and high reading level) at school. Curtis tries to shoehorn in more characters and subplots than the story will comfortably bear—as do many first novelists—but he creates a well-knit family and a narrator with a distinct, believable voice. (Fiction. 10-12)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 1995

ISBN: 0-385-32175-9

Page Count: 210

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 1995

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