Pirates, mermaids, and more mystery in this satisfying return to Pumpkin Falls.

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REALLY TRULY

From the Pumpkin Falls Mystery series , Vol. 3

In this latest Pumpkin Falls Mystery, Truly Lovejoy reprises her role as a “middle school private eye.”

Anticipating a “perfect New Hampshire summer in Pumpkin Falls spent bird-watching, bike riding, swimming, working in her family’s bookstore, and hanging out with friends—especially crush Calhoun—Truly survives her family reunion and the town’s 4K race only to find herself unexpectedly exiled to Sirena’s Sea Siren Academy on Cape Cod. Here, she’s immersed in all things mermaid, learns to swim wearing a sparkly tail—and discovers a possible link between a real pirate and one of her Lovejoy ancestors. Returning to Pumpkin Falls, Truly alerts fellow sleuths in the Pumpkin Falls Private Eyes to the possibility of pirate treasure buried locally. Splitting time among investigating the pirate mystery, finding the town’s missing silver pumpkin trophy, and a summer production of The Pirates of Penzance, spunky Truly proves she’s up for just about anything. Her vulnerable, humorous first-person narration reveals minor family frustrations, her attraction to Calhoun, and her resolve when faced with a challenge. The pace drags during the opening family reunion sequence but accelerates at mermaid camp and culminates in an action-packed finale. Eccentric new and returning characters and the mermaid/pirate theme add spice to this family-oriented adventure. Truly and her family are white; diversity in Pumpkin Falls is mostly suggested via naming convention.

Pirates, mermaids, and more mystery in this satisfying return to Pumpkin Falls. (recipe, suggested reading) (Mystery. 10-14)

Pub Date: June 2, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5344-1437-2

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: March 1, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2020

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Uneven pacing and clunky writing undermine this examination of trauma and PTSD.

IF WE WERE GIANTS

Matthews, of the Dave Matthews Band, and co-author Smith offer a fantasy that explores the damage done by violence inflicted by one people against another.

Ten-year-old Kirra lives in an idyllic community hidden for generations inside a dormant volcano. When she and her little brother make unwise choices that help bring the violent, spindly, gray-skinned Takers to her community—with devastating results—Kirra feels responsible and leaves the volcano. Four years later, Kirra’s been adopted into a family of Tree Folk that live in the forest canopy. Though there are many Tree Folk, individual families care for their own and are politely distant from others. Kirra, suffering from (unnamed) PTSD, evades her traumatic memories by avoiding what she calls “Memory Traps,” but when the Takers arrive in the forest, she must face her trauma and attempt to make a community of the Tree Folk if they’re to survive. Although Kirra’s struggles through trauma are presented with sympathy and realistically rendered, some characters’ choices are so patently foolish they baldly read like the plot devices they are. Additionally, much preparation goes into one line of defense while other obvious factors are completely ignored, further pushing the story’s credibility. Kirra is brown skinned, as is her first family; Tree Folk appear not to be racially homogenous; and the Takers are all gray skinned.

Uneven pacing and clunky writing undermine this examination of trauma and PTSD. (Fantasy. 10-14)

Pub Date: March 3, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4847-7871-5

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion

Review Posted Online: Nov. 10, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2019

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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

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