Action-packed, with a strong emotional underpinning, this story satisfies.

Courageous 13-year-olds save the lives of plane crash victims in the middle of a blizzard in this stand-alone companion to Red Fox Road (2020).

The students at Green Mountain Academy: Adventure School for Girls in rural British Columbia take wilderness survival courses. Francie, who is White, and Danny, who is Indigenous, train particularly hard because they’ve each lost a loved one in outdoors accidents—Francie, her dad, and Danny, her grandmother. But their emotional responses to crisis diverge. Francie, who feels she could have saved her father if she’d only followed her hunch, rushes solo into a blizzard to search for survivors when a small plane crashes in their area. Danny is afraid of the risk because her grandmother, an experienced woodswoman, succumbed to the elements following an accident. Francie finds two surviving passengers, an injured singer and her brother, who are cued Black; the pilot died in the crash. Exhausted, Francie desperately needs assistance—and when Danny realizes Francie is gone, she comes through. With the teachers away trying to salvage the insolvent school and the girls in the care of school cook Ms. Benito, Danny organizes the girls to aid Francie. The cast members’ heroic, selfless efforts move from exciting to stomach-clenching. Francie narrates the action while sensitively exploring the effects of tragedy, guilt, and sacrifice. She and Danny each work through their grief and find paths forward, and their courage ultimately brings benefits they never imagined.

Action-packed, with a strong emotional underpinning, this story satisfies. (Fiction. 10-14)

Pub Date: Sept. 27, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-7352-6784-8

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Tundra Books

Review Posted Online: July 12, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2022


From the Captain Underpants series , Vol. 9

Is this the end? Well, no…the series will stagger on through at least one more scheduled sequel.

Sure signs that the creative wells are running dry at last, the Captain’s ninth, overstuffed outing both recycles a villain (see Book 4) and offers trendy anti-bullying wish fulfillment.

Not that there aren’t pranks and envelope-pushing quips aplenty. To start, in an alternate ending to the previous episode, Principal Krupp ends up in prison (“…a lot like being a student at Jerome Horwitz Elementary School, except that the prison had better funding”). There, he witnesses fellow inmate Tippy Tinkletrousers (aka Professor Poopypants) escape in a giant Robo-Suit (later reduced to time-traveling trousers). The villain sets off after George and Harold, who are in juvie (“not much different from our old school…except that they have library books here.”). Cut to five years previous, in a prequel to the whole series. George and Harold link up in kindergarten to reduce a quartet of vicious bullies to giggling insanity with a relentless series of pranks involving shaving cream, spiders, effeminate spoof text messages and friendship bracelets. Pilkey tucks both topical jokes and bathroom humor into the cartoon art, and ups the narrative’s lexical ante with terms like “pharmaceuticals” and “theatrical flair.” Unfortunately, the bullies’ sad fates force Krupp to resign, so he’s not around to save the Earth from being destroyed later on by Talking Toilets and other invaders…

Is this the end? Well, no…the series will stagger on through at least one more scheduled sequel. (Fantasy. 10-12)

Pub Date: Aug. 28, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-545-17534-0

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: June 19, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2012


From the School for Good and Evil series , Vol. 1

Rich and strange (and kitted out with an eye-catching cover), but stronger in the set pieces than the internal logic.

Chainani works an elaborate sea change akin to Gregory Maguire’s Wicked (1995), though he leaves the waters muddied.

Every four years, two children, one regarded as particularly nice and the other particularly nasty, are snatched from the village of Gavaldon by the shadowy School Master to attend the divided titular school. Those who survive to graduate become major or minor characters in fairy tales. When it happens to sweet, Disney princess–like Sophie and  her friend Agatha, plain of features, sour of disposition and low of self-esteem, they are both horrified to discover that they’ve been dropped not where they expect but at Evil and at Good respectively. Gradually—too gradually, as the author strings out hundreds of pages of Hogwarts-style pranks, classroom mishaps and competitions both academic and romantic—it becomes clear that the placement wasn’t a mistake at all. Growing into their true natures amid revelations and marked physical changes, the two spark escalating rivalry between the wings of the school. This leads up to a vicious climactic fight that sees Good and Evil repeatedly switching sides. At this point, readers are likely to feel suddenly left behind, as, thanks to summary deus ex machina resolutions, everything turns out swell(ish).

Rich and strange (and kitted out with an eye-catching cover), but stronger in the set pieces than the internal logic. (Fantasy. 11-13)

Pub Date: May 14, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-06-210489-2

Page Count: 496

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Feb. 12, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2013

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