Sadness and hope combine in this heartfelt British import.

READ REVIEW

SCARLET IBIS

Twelve-year-old Scarlet Ibis Mackenzie struggles to care for her brother and protect her family.

With a mother who sleeps and smokes her way through most days, Scarlet has shouldered most of the household responsibilities as well as the care of her sensitive younger half brother, Red. Scarlet works hard to keep her family together, but it’s not easy to predict her mother’s bouts of anger and melancholy and support her brother through hair-trigger emotional upheavals, all while trying to ward off social worker Mrs. Gideon. Her worst fears are realized when a fire destroys the family’s apartment, and Scarlet is placed in foster care without Red. With some cursory Americanization to help the book make the leap across the pond as well as a dash of her signature wildlife enthusiasm, Lewis explores an array of complexities, all to do with family and resilience. Scarlet’s separation from Red (explained as necessary due to Red’s autism spectrum disorder) exacerbates what Scarlet sees as existing splinters of difference (Red is white like their withdrawn mother, and mixed-race Scarlet is dark-skinned like her absent father). And Scarlet uses Red’s fascination with feathers and birds—including the baby pigeon that survives the apartment fire—to find not only a way into her brother’s world, but the hope of reuniting them in the new security of a foster home.

Sadness and hope combine in this heartfelt British import. (Fiction. 11-14)

Pub Date: May 15, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-4814-4941-0

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Caitlyn Dlouhy/Atheneum

Review Posted Online: March 27, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2018

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

A sly, side-splitting hoot from start to finish.

THE MECHANICAL MIND OF JOHN COGGIN

The dreary prospect of spending a lifetime making caskets instead of wonderful inventions prompts a young orphan to snatch up his little sister and flee. Where? To the circus, of course.

Fortunately or otherwise, John and 6-year-old Page join up with Boz—sometime human cannonball for the seedy Wandering Wayfarers and a “vertically challenged” trickster with a fantastic gift for sowing chaos. Alas, the budding engineer barely has time to settle in to begin work on an experimental circus wagon powered by chicken poop and dubbed (with questionable forethought) the Autopsy. The hot pursuit of malign and indomitable Great-Aunt Beauregard, the Coggins’ only living relative, forces all three to leave the troupe for further flights and misadventures. Teele spins her adventure around a sturdy protagonist whose love for his little sister is matched only by his fierce desire for something better in life for them both and tucks in an outstanding supporting cast featuring several notably strong-minded, independent women (Page, whose glare “would kill spiders dead,” not least among them). Better yet, in Boz she has created a scene-stealing force of nature, a free spirit who’s never happier than when he’s stirring up mischief. A climactic clutch culminating in a magnificently destructive display of fireworks leaves the Coggin sibs well-positioned for bright futures. (Illustrations not seen.)

A sly, side-splitting hoot from start to finish. (Adventure. 11-13)

Pub Date: April 12, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-06-234510-3

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Walden Pond Press/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2016

Did you like this book?

Those preparing to “slay the sucktastic beast known as high school” will particularly appreciate this spirited read.

MOMENTOUS EVENTS IN THE LIFE OF A CACTUS

From the Life of a Cactus series

In the sequel to Insignificant Events in the Life of a Cactus (2017), Aven Green confronts her biggest challenge yet: surviving high school without arms.

Fourteen-year-old Aven has just settled into life at Stagecoach Pass with her adoptive parents when everything changes again. She’s entering high school, which means that 2,300 new kids will stare at her missing arms—and her feet, which do almost everything hands can (except, alas, air quotes). Aven resolves to be “blasé” and field her classmates’ pranks with aplomb, but a humiliating betrayal shakes her self-confidence. Even her friendships feel unsteady. Her friend Connor’s moved away and made a new friend who, like him, has Tourette’s syndrome: a girl. And is Lando, her friend Zion’s popular older brother, being sweet to Aven out of pity—or something more? Bowling keenly depicts the universal awkwardness of adolescence and the particular self-consciousness of navigating a disability. Aven’s “armless-girl problems” realistically grow thornier in this outing, touching on such tough topics as death and aging, but warm, quirky secondary characters lend support. A few preachy epiphanies notwithstanding, Aven’s honest, witty voice shines—whether out-of-reach vending-machine snacks are “taunting” her or she’s nursing heartaches. A subplot exploring Aven’s curiosity about her biological father resolves with a touching twist. Most characters, including Aven, appear white; Zion and Lando are black.

Those preparing to “slay the sucktastic beast known as high school” will particularly appreciate this spirited read. (Fiction. 12-14)

Pub Date: Sept. 17, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4549-3329-8

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Sterling

Review Posted Online: June 10, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2019

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet
more