Readers will definitely want to have, know or be Maggie’s brothers—but she herself proves to be no slouch when it comes to...

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FRIENDS WITH BOYS

Nervous, home-schooled by her absent and much-missed mom and saddled with three adored older brothers—and a ghost—Maggie starts high school.

Largely but not entirely left by her doting upper-grade sibs (who had “first days” of their own) to sink or swim, Maggie starts off in lonely isolation but quickly finds two great friends in Mohawk-wearing, multiply pierced, exuberantly logorrheic classmate Lucy and her quieter (but also Mohawk-topped) brother Alistair. Simmering complications soon reach a boil as Maggie discovers that Alistair and her own oldest brother Daniel have some sort of bad history, and on a more eldritch note, a woman’s ghost that Maggie had occasionally seen in the nearby graveyard takes to floating into her house and right up to her face. Filling monochrome ink-and-wash panels with wonderfully mobile faces, expressively posed bodies, wordless conversations in meaningful glances, funny banter and easy-to-read visual sequences ranging from hilarious to violent, Hicks crafts an upbeat, uncommonly engaging tale rich in humor, suspense, and smart, complex characters.

Readers will definitely want to have, know or be Maggie’s brothers—but she herself proves to be no slouch when it comes to coping with change and taking on challenges. (Graphic fantasy. 11-13)

Pub Date: Feb. 28, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-59643-556-8

Page Count: 224

Publisher: First Second/Roaring Brook

Review Posted Online: Jan. 4, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2012

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A tale driven by its informational purpose, with only a short story’s worth of plot.

LOST CAUSE

From the Seven (The Series) series

Posthumous messages and tantalizing clues send a teenager from Canada to Barcelona in search of a hidden chapter from his beloved grandfather’s past.

One of a septet of simultaneously published novels, all by different authors and featuring cousins who are each left a mission or task in their shared grandfather’s will, this takes Steve to Spain, where he discovers that his elder relative was a member of the International Brigades. He is guided by his grandfather’s old journal and also by Laia, an attractive young resident of the city who lectures him on the Spanish Civil War while taking him to several local memorial sites. Steve slowly gains insight into how it felt to believe passionately in a cause—even, in this case, a doomed one—and then to lose that innocent certainty in the blood and shock of war. The storyline is, though, at best only thin glue for a series of infodumps, and readers will get a stronger, more specific view of that conflict’s drama and course from William Loren Katz’s Lincoln Brigade: A Pictorial History (1989).

A tale driven by its informational purpose, with only a short story’s worth of plot. (map and family tree, not seen) (Fiction. 11-13)

Pub Date: Oct. 10, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-55469-944-5

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Orca

Review Posted Online: Aug. 8, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2012

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CRYSTAL BONES

From the Faelin Chronicles series , Vol. 1

This enthusiastic but clichéd series opener strings trope after trope on a thread of purple prose. On their 13th birthday, Diello and Cynthe impatiently await the manifestation of their magical gifts. These twins are Faelin, which means half Fae (on Mamee’s side) and half human (on Pa’s), and they have “coppery, green-flecked eyes” (natch). On an errand, the twins face not just the usual Faelin-hating prejudice but real danger; then they meet a talking golden wolf and return home to find their parents murdered, the farm sacked and old family secrets emerging. A hidden (and broken) sword, a gift of Sight, an endangered younger sister and a beckoning quest complete the picture. Earthy farm details (“We needed the rain, but it hit too hard. Mind that you lift the seedlings off the mud”) mix awkwardly with the glistening stuff of Fae (“When [Mamee] was very happy, she sometimes let her glamour appear, turning her into a glittering creature of silvery sparkles, her skin like snow, her lashes like tiny crystals”). The author tries to paint a unique world with slight alterations of recognizable English words (trees are “walner,” “chesternut” and “willuth”), but the exposition is clumsy, and momentum is weakened by overexplanation (“Amalina screamed. A cry of sheer terror”). It's not subtle, but it will carry along some readers on the prose’s pure eagerness. (Fantasy. 11-13)

Pub Date: April 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-7614-5828-9

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Marshall Cavendish

Review Posted Online: April 5, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2011

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