A Mexican-set Odyssey that falls flat. (Fantasy. 9-15)



After finding the body of a drowned man in the Río Bravo (Rio Grande), five sisters set out on a danger-filled adventure that will take them from their border town in Texas to Mexico.

When Odilia, the narrator and oldest sister, and her four siblings come across the body of a drowned man carrying identification in his pocket, they decide to take him back to his family in Mexico. Having ruled out wiser options, they also throw in a visit to their Mexican grandmother for good measure. Using Odysseus as the inspiration, McCall (Shame the Stars, 2016, etc.) patterns the girls’ journey after his, and their one-day intended trip becomes a 12-day escapade. Along the way they encounter mythical Mexican characters—La Llorona, Cecilia the witch, lechuzas, a nagual, a chupacabra, the goddess Tonantzín—who either hinder or help them along the way. The fantastical journey gets bogged down with myriad improbable decisions and excessive descriptions that distract from the plot. Originally published in English as The Summer of the Mariposas (2012), this translation is adequate but not stellar. There are many literal and word-for-word translations as well as Anglicisms that fluent Spanish readers will find distracting.

A Mexican-set Odyssey that falls flat. (Fantasy. 9-15)

Pub Date: March 27, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-62014-786-3

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Tu Books

Review Posted Online: April 3, 2018

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A bit of envelope-pushing freshens up the formula.


In honor of its 25th anniversary, a Disney Halloween horror/comedy film gets a sequel to go with its original novelization.

Three Salem witches hanged in 1693 for stealing a child’s life force are revived in 1993 when 16-year-old new kid Max completes a spell by lighting a magical candle (which has to be kindled by a virgin to work). Max and dazzling, popular classmate Allison have to keep said witches at bay until dawn to save all of the local children from a similar fate. Fast-forward to 2018: Poppy, daughter of Max and Allison, inadvertently works a spell that sends her parents and an aunt to hell in exchange for the gleeful witches. With help from her best friend, Travis, and classmate Isabella, on whom she has a major crush, Poppy has only hours to keep the weird sisters from working more evil. The witches, each daffier than the last, supply most of the comedy as well as plenty of menace but end up back in the infernal regions. There’s also a talking cat, a talking dog, a gaggle of costumed heroines, and an oblique reference to a certain beloved Halloween movie. Traditional Disney wholesomeness is spiced, not soured, by occasional innuendo and a big twist in the sequel. Poppy and her family are white, while Travis and Isabella are both African-American.

A bit of envelope-pushing freshens up the formula. (Fantasy. 10-15)

Pub Date: July 10, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-368-02003-9

Page Count: 528

Publisher: Freeform/Disney

Review Posted Online: June 17, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2018

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This is no didactic near-future warning of present evils, but a cinematic adventure featuring endearing, compelling heroes


From the Legend series , Vol. 1

A gripping thriller in dystopic future Los Angeles.

Fifteen-year-olds June and Day live completely different lives in the glorious Republic. June is rich and brilliant, the only candidate ever to get a perfect score in the Trials, and is destined for a glowing career in the military. She looks forward to the day when she can join up and fight the Republic’s treacherous enemies east of the Dakotas. Day, on the other hand, is an anonymous street rat, a slum child who failed his own Trial. He's also the Republic's most wanted criminal, prone to stealing from the rich and giving to the poor. When tragedies strike both their families, the two brilliant teens are thrown into direct opposition. In alternating first-person narratives, Day and June experience coming-of-age adventures in the midst of spying, theft and daredevil combat. Their voices are distinct and richly drawn, from Day’s self-deprecating affection for others to June's Holmesian attention to detail. All the flavor of a post-apocalyptic setting—plagues, class warfare, maniacal soldiers—escalates to greater complexity while leaving space for further worldbuilding in the sequel.

This is no didactic near-future warning of present evils, but a cinematic adventure featuring endearing, compelling heroes . (Science fiction. 12-14)

Pub Date: Nov. 29, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-399-25675-2

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: April 8, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2011

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