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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Longing—for connection, for family, for a voice—roars to life with just a touch of magic.

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WHEN YOU TRAP A TIGER

A young girl bargaining for the health of her grandmother discovers both her family’s past and the strength of her own voice.

For many years, Lily’s Korean grandmother, Halmoni, has shared her Asian wisdom and healing powers with her predominantly White community. When Lily, her sister, Sam—both biracial, Korean and White—and their widowed mom move in with Halmoni to be close with her as she ages, Lily begins to see a magical tiger. What were previously bedtime stories become dangerously prophetic, as Lily begins to piece together fact from fiction. There is no need for prior knowledge of Korean folktales, although a traditional Korean myth propels the story forward. From the tiger, Lily learns that Halmoni has bottled up the hard stories of her past to keep sadness at bay. Lily makes a deal with the tiger to heal her grandmother by releasing those stories. What she comes to realize is that healing doesn’t mean health and that Halmoni is not the only one in need of the power of storytelling. Interesting supporting characters are fully developed but used sparingly to keep the focus on the simple yet suspenseful plot. Keller infuses this tale, which explores both the end of life and coming-of-age, with a sensitive examination of immigration issues and the complexity of home. It is at one and the same time completely American and thoroughly informed by Korean culture.

Longing—for connection, for family, for a voice—roars to life with just a touch of magic. (Fiction. 10-14)

Pub Date: Jan. 28, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5247-1570-0

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: Sept. 29, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2019

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Series fans, at least, will take this outing (and clear evidence of more to come) in stride.

CAPTAIN UNDERPANTS AND THE REVOLTING REVENGE OF THE RADIOACTIVE ROBO-BOXERS

From the Captain Underpants series , Vol. 10

Zipping back and forth in time atop outsized robo–bell bottoms, mad inventor Tippy Tinkletrousers (aka Professor Poopypants) legs his way to center stage in this slightly less-labored continuation of episode 9.

The action commences after a rambling recap and a warning not to laugh or smile on pain of being forced to read Sarah Plain and Tall. Pilkey first sends his peevish protagonist back a short while to save the Earth (destroyed in the previous episode), then on to various prehistoric eras in pursuit of George, Harold and the Captain. It’s all pretty much an excuse for many butt jokes, dashes of off-color humor (“Tippy pressed the button on his Freezy-Beam 4000, causing it to rise from the depths of his Robo-Pants”), a lengthy wordless comic and two tussles in “Flip-o-rama.” Still, the chase kicks off an ice age, the extinction of the dinosaurs and the Big Bang (here the Big “Ka-Bloosh!”). It ends with a harrowing glimpse of what George and Harold would become if they decided to go straight. The author also chucks in a poopy-doo-doo song with musical notation (credited to Albert P. Einstein) and plenty of ink-and-wash cartoon illustrations to crank up the ongoing frenzy.

Series fans, at least, will take this outing (and clear evidence of more to come) in stride. (Fantasy. 10-12)

Pub Date: Jan. 15, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-545-17536-4

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Dec. 13, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2013

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