Squired by rival sibs who are, at worst, frenemies, this dizzy tour mixes glimpses of glossy and relatively obscure Big...

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THE TAPPER TWINS TEAR UP NEW YORK

Plush-toy abuse, a sudden jelly bean shortage, severe rule-bending, and several near riots punctuate a helter-skelter scavenger hunt as the preteen Tapper twins again go head-to-head (The Tapper Twins Go to War (with Each Other), 2015).

What starts out as a well-meant fundraiser for a food bank quickly devolves into warfare as, for a prize of four front-row seats at any upcoming Madison Square Garden event (!), the students of Upper East Side’s Culver Prep Middle School team up and fan out with an excellent (if Manhattan-centric) list of New York City sites famous and obscure to visit and small artifacts to gather. The story is cast as a multivoiced oral-history transcript with interspersed texts, bulletin board exchanges, documents, maps, side comments, and snapshot photos. The hunt takes driven sixth-grade president Claudia Tapper’s team from Bloomingdale’s (“photo of a price tag for item over $100,000”) to a hyperexclusive eatery in Greenwich Village, while her twin, Reese, and his short-attention-span buddies ramble around lower Manhattan, with a brief interlude locked (long story) in a New Jersey–bound delivery truck. By day’s end it looks like the snotty and unscrupulous Fembot clique has copped the tickets—but Rodkey works several ingenious twists into the climax to put the win into the unlikeliest of hands. And seeing certain badly behaved parent chaperones receive just deserts adds to the fun.

Squired by rival sibs who are, at worst, frenemies, this dizzy tour mixes glimpses of glossy and relatively obscure Big Apple attractions with mishaps aplenty but no (permanent) harm done. (Fiction. 10-12)

Pub Date: Sept. 29, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-316-38029-4

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: June 6, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2015

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A beautifully rendered setting enfolds a disappointing plot.

A GALAXY OF SEA STARS

In sixth grade, Izzy Mancini’s cozy, loving world falls apart.

She and her family have moved out of the cottage she grew up in. Her mother has spent the summer on Block Island instead of at home with Izzy. Her father has recently returned from military service in Afghanistan partially paralyzed and traumatized. The only people she can count on are Zelda and Piper, her best friends since kindergarten—that is, until the Haidary family moves into the upstairs apartment. At first, Izzy resents the new guests from Afghanistan even though she knows she should be grateful that Dr. Haidary saved her father’s life. But despite her initial resistance (which manifests at times as racism), as Izzy gets to know Sitara, the Haidarys’ daughter, she starts to question whether Zelda and Piper really are her friends for forever—and whether she has the courage to stand up for Sitara against the people she loves. Ferruolo weaves a rich setting, fully immersing readers in the largely white, coastal town of Seabury, Rhode Island. Disappointingly, the story resolves when Izzy convinces her classmates to accept Sitara by revealing the Haidarys’ past as American allies, a position that put them in so much danger that they had to leave home. The idea that Sitara should be embraced only because her family supported America, rather than simply because she is a human being, significantly undermines the purported message of tolerance for all.

A beautifully rendered setting enfolds a disappointing plot. (Fiction. 10-12)

Pub Date: Feb. 4, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-374-30909-1

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: Nov. 24, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2019

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THE BAD BEGINNING

The Baudelaire children—Violet, 14, Klaus, 12, and baby Sunny—are exceedingly ill-fated; Snicket extracts both humor and horror from their situation, as he gleefully puts them through one terrible ordeal after another. After receiving the news that their parents died in a fire, the three hapless orphans are delivered into the care of Count Olaf, who “is either a third cousin four times removed, or a fourth cousin three times removed.” The villainous Count Olaf is morally depraved and generally mean, and only takes in the downtrodden yet valiant children so that he can figure out a way to separate them from their considerable inheritance. The youngsters are able to escape his clutches at the end, but since this is the first installment in A Series of Unfortunate Events, there will be more ghastly doings. Written with old-fashioned flair, this fast-paced book is not for the squeamish: the Baudelaire children are truly sympathetic characters who encounter a multitude of distressing situations. Those who enjoy a little poison in their porridge will find it wicked good fun. (b&w illustrations, not seen) (Fiction. 10-12)

Pub Date: Sept. 30, 1999

ISBN: 0-06-440766-7

Page Count: 162

Publisher: HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1999

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