Rendered with exquisite sensory detail, this hero’s journey is a resonant read for unsettling times.

RED FOX ROAD

A hazardous choice on a family trip generates cascading events that leave a teen struggling to survive in the Oregon wilderness.

Unlike her father, 13-year-old Francie and her mother enjoy hiking. During the family’s drive from Penticton, British Columbia, to the Grand Canyon, Dad opts for a shortcut that his new GPS indicates should cut 100 miles from their trip. Mom’s doubts—his road’s not on her paper map—prove justified as the road grows rougher and night approaches. Francie reads her survival guidebook and naps until a rock takes out their truck. Making the best of things—they’ve got camping gear, though little food and no cellphone (her parents don’t like them)—they spend a night in the vast, beautiful forest. The next morning, Dad sets off for help, carrying their tent and the GPS. As days of waiting pass, Mom—mentally unstable since Francie’s twin sister died from a congenital heart defect—starts behaving erratically. Francie copes with her own fear by planning and preparing for contingencies. She’ll need all her hard-won knowledge as challenges mount. Resourceful, doggedly careful, courageous Francie brightens this often somber tale. As she’s recovering from a scary bear encounter, the clear night sky enchants her. Her love and respect for the wilderness, its plants and denizens who are simply trying—like her—to survive, shine. Francie and her parents are White.

Rendered with exquisite sensory detail, this hero’s journey is a resonant read for unsettling times. (Fiction. 10-14)

Pub Date: Sept. 15, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-7352-6781-7

Page Count: 248

Publisher: Puffin/Penguin Random House Canada

Review Posted Online: July 14, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2020

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

CAPTAIN UNDERPANTS AND THE TERRIFYING RETURN OF TIPPY TINKLETROUSERS

From the Captain Underpants series , Vol. 9

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 20, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2012

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Some readers may feel that the resolution comes a mite too easily, but most will enjoy the journey and be pleased when...

ASHES TO ASHEVILLE

Two sisters make an unauthorized expedition to their former hometown and in the process bring together the two parts of their divided family.

Dooley packs plenty of emotion into this eventful road trip, which takes place over the course of less than 24 hours. Twelve-year-old Ophelia, nicknamed Fella, and her 16-year-old sister, Zoey Grace, aka Zany, are the daughters of a lesbian couple, Shannon and Lacy, who could not legally marry. The two white girls squabble and share memories as they travel from West Virginia to Asheville, North Carolina, where Zany is determined to scatter Mama Lacy’s ashes in accordance with her wishes. The year is 2004, before the Supreme Court decision on gay marriage, and the girls have been separated by hostile, antediluvian custodial laws. Fella’s present-tense narration paints pictures not just of the difficulties they face on the trip (a snowstorm, car trouble, and an unlikely thief among them), but also of their lives before Mama Lacy’s illness and of the ways that things have changed since then. Breathless and engaging, Fella’s distinctive voice is convincingly childlike. The conversations she has with her sister, as well as her insights about their relationship, likewise ring true. While the girls face serious issues, amusing details and the caring adults in their lives keep the tone relatively light.

Some readers may feel that the resolution comes a mite too easily, but most will enjoy the journey and be pleased when Fella’s family figures out how to come together in a new way . (Historical fiction. 10-14)

Pub Date: April 4, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-399-16504-7

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: Feb. 1, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2017

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