THE KNEEBONE BOY

The Hardscrabbles of the English town of Little Tunks—silent Otto, the adventure-seeking Lucia and whip-smart Max—have become accustomed to their shy, rumpled father’s absences since their mother’s suspicious disappearance. (“ ‘She’s dead,’ Lucia said. ‘She’s gone missing,’ said Max.”) On one such occasion, Mr. Hardscrabble’s miscommunication with a London relative leaves the trio perilously alone in the big city. Barely escaping the clutches of an angry tattooed man, they manage to track down their great aunt Haddie Piggit, a youngish, eccentric American with a penchant for Pixy Stix who lives in a child-sized version of the adjacent Kneebone Castle in Snoring-by-the-Sea. Could she be their mother? Does Otto, the oldest at 13, know and not say? Does the legendary, tower-bound Kneebone Boy really have bat ears? Narrated quite personably by one of the Hardscrabbles who refuses to be identified but is obvious, the story is fresh, funny and surprising. The sibling dynamics—alternately testy and touching—are believable, as are the wonderfully odd characters from the hulking taxidermist Saint George to the ethereal Sultan of Juwi. A quirky charmer. (Fiction. 11 & up)

Pub Date: Sept. 14, 2010

ISBN: 978-0-312-37772-4

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Feiwel & Friends

Review Posted Online: Aug. 17, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2010

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A sly, side-splitting hoot from start to finish.

THE MECHANICAL MIND OF JOHN COGGIN

The dreary prospect of spending a lifetime making caskets instead of wonderful inventions prompts a young orphan to snatch up his little sister and flee. Where? To the circus, of course.

Fortunately or otherwise, John and 6-year-old Page join up with Boz—sometime human cannonball for the seedy Wandering Wayfarers and a “vertically challenged” trickster with a fantastic gift for sowing chaos. Alas, the budding engineer barely has time to settle in to begin work on an experimental circus wagon powered by chicken poop and dubbed (with questionable forethought) the Autopsy. The hot pursuit of malign and indomitable Great-Aunt Beauregard, the Coggins’ only living relative, forces all three to leave the troupe for further flights and misadventures. Teele spins her adventure around a sturdy protagonist whose love for his little sister is matched only by his fierce desire for something better in life for them both and tucks in an outstanding supporting cast featuring several notably strong-minded, independent women (Page, whose glare “would kill spiders dead,” not least among them). Better yet, in Boz she has created a scene-stealing force of nature, a free spirit who’s never happier than when he’s stirring up mischief. A climactic clutch culminating in a magnificently destructive display of fireworks leaves the Coggin sibs well-positioned for bright futures. (Illustrations not seen.)

A sly, side-splitting hoot from start to finish. (Adventure. 11-13)

Pub Date: April 12, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-06-234510-3

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Walden Pond Press/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2016

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A gripping, nuanced story of the human cost of conflict appropriate for both children and adults.

THE NIGHT DIARY

In 1947, Nisha’s beloved country is being torn apart—and so is her family.

Nisha and her twin brother, Amil, celebrate their 12th birthday in their beloved town of Mirpur Khas, India, a month before their country receives independence from the British and splits into India and Pakistan. Painfully shy, Nisha, who lost her mother in childbirth and feels distant from her stern father and her elderly grandmother, is only able to speak freely with the family cook, a Muslim man named Kazi. Although Nisha’s mother was Muslim, her family is Hindu, and the riots surrounding Partition soon make it impossible for them to live in their home safely despite their mixed faith. They are forced to leave their town—and Kazi. As Nisha and her family make their way across the brand-new border, Nisha learns about her family history, not to mention her own strength. Hiranandani (The Whole Story of Half a Girl, 2013) compassionately portrays one of the bloodiest periods in world history through diary entries Nisha writes to her deceased mother. Nisha’s voice is the right mix of innocence and strength, and her transformation is both believable and heartbreaking. Nisha’s unflinching critiques of Gandhi, Nehru, and Jinnah are particularly refreshing in their honesty.

A gripping, nuanced story of the human cost of conflict appropriate for both children and adults. (Historical fiction. 11-adult)

Pub Date: March 6, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-7352-2851-1

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: Dec. 3, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2018

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