Long, breathless sentences like this one create a distinct voice for the 12-year-old narrator of this light comedy that features a supermom who’s raising a child and working her way toward graduate school as an exotic dancer at the Kitty Kat Club. It all hits the fan when Tony’s sketches of some of the girls in the club’s dressing room end up on exhibit at the local museum. Down swoops a panicky child-welfare worker, police officer in tow—both of whom meet their match in Tony’s intelligent, forthright, fiercely protective mother, Al. The confrontation quickly degenerates into a wild ruckus, followed by a media circus, a courtroom scene, and a telescoped resolution involving both a large cash settlement and a possible hookup between Al and Tony’s over-the-top drama teacher. Not too likely, but all good fun, and Paulsen claims that Al is based on an actual acquaintance. Introduce reluctant readers, Paulsen fans, or anyone who enjoys an occasional belly laugh to this prototypical preteen and his most memorable mom. (Fiction. 9-11)

Pub Date: June 10, 2003

ISBN: 0-385-32499-5

Page Count: 112

Publisher: Wendy Lamb/Random

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2003

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Vande Velde combines her trademark spookiness with some of the motifs of fairy tales—witches, magic, stolen children—to explore themes of jealousy and villainy. A young girl of about 12, who can remember nothing of her name or her home, is rescued from the forest. She is soon taken up by a mother who calls her Isabelle and who insists that she is the daughter who disappeared years ago. The same woman’s month-old baby was taken by a witch just a day before Isabelle is found, and the connection between the events is cleverly plotted and revealed. The indeterminate, rustic setting of forests, small villages and pre-industrial technology, along with the sturdy and odd, old-fashioned names, add to the folktale quality of the narrative. Questions of identity and the nature of evil run throughout the introspective narrative as the girl struggles to understand herself and her relationship with the world—even as the selfsame narrative twists and turns its way to a satisfyingly devious conclusion. A quick read; taut and superbly suspenseful. (Fantasy. 9-11)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2008

ISBN: 978-0-7614-5515-8

Page Count: 160

Publisher: Marshall Cavendish

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2008

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In this crackerjack adventure, a pair of Cockney trash-pickers and their spaceman friend seek a MacGuffin in the ruins of post-apocalyptic London.

Fifteen-year-old Cass and her kid brother Wilbur are usually stuck scavving under a gangmaster's careful eye, pulling London to pieces and tossing it in crusher chutes. The Vlads have been running Britain ever since they conquered the world 100 years ago, and heaven help any Londoner who sneaks out of her lifelong job of searching for object of the Vlads’ desire: the artifact. Nobody knows what the artifact is, but Wilbur, convinced his comic books tell him how to find it, sneaks off repeatedly into forbidden neighborhoods. This is how he finds Peyto and Erin, strange kids who say the artifact is a flinder, and they need it to repair their wounded spaceship. Maybe Wilbur can help them—maybe he's even destined to. Now they're caught in a mad spiral of (occasionally incoherent) adventure, hopping into space and back, fleeing from Vlads, hiding in the British Museum, fighting drone soldiers in powered battlesuits. Cass has a lovely, rich narrative voice ("We go through it like a horse ’n’ cart through a cake"), and is a feisty heroine, a much better protagonist than destined savior Wilbur would have been. Even if events don't always quite hold together, it’s such a racketing good time it doesn't matter. (Science fiction. 9-11) 


Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-545-31767-2

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Chicken House/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Aug. 10, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2011

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