A go-down-easy book that provides both lightweight character building and several comical turns.

MIND IF I READ YOUR MIND?

From the Ghost Buddy series , Vol. 2

A sixth-grader and his live-in ghost further cement their friendship while bootstrapping each other toward better social skills in this airy sequel to Zero to Hero (2012).

This time the ghost takes center stage. Dead teen and compulsive prankster Hoover “the Hoove” Porterhouse has but one last chance to earn a passing mark from Higher-Ups in Helping Others and Responsibility to be set free to realize his life- (and death-) long dream of visiting every Major League ballpark in the country. When an upcoming school assignment that requires showing some personal skill sends his shy, breathing buddy Billy Broccoli into a terrified tizzy, the Hoove’s “help” with a fake mind-reading act boosts Billy’s public status from outsider to awesome. Carrying its messages lightly, the tale ultimately leaves the Hoove with better impulse control even as it moves Billy to twin realizations that cheating is neither good for building self-respect nor the best way to make friends. Highlights include a pair of misty Field of Dreams–style exchanges with the one-and-only Yogi “You can observe a lot by watching” Berra. The cast is thoroughly likable (even the requisite bully will earn reader sympathy, if only for being so gormless).

A go-down-easy book that provides both lightweight character building and several comical turns. (Fantasy. 10-12)

Pub Date: July 1, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-545-29888-9

Page Count: 176

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: April 11, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2012

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A solid debut: fluent, funny and eminently sequel-worthy.

ALMOST SUPER

Inventively tweaking a popular premise, Jensen pits two Incredibles-style families with superpowers against each other—until a new challenge rises to unite them.

The Johnsons invariably spit at the mere mention of their hated rivals, the Baileys. Likewise, all Baileys habitually shake their fists when referring to the Johnsons. Having long looked forward to getting a superpower so that he too can battle his clan’s nemeses, Rafter Bailey is devastated when, instead of being able to fly or something else cool, he acquires the “power” to strike a match on soft polyester. But when hated classmate Juanita Johnson turns up newly endowed with a similarly bogus power and, against all family tradition, they compare notes, it becomes clear that something fishy is going on. Both families regard themselves as the heroes and their rivals as the villains. Someone has been inciting them to fight each other. Worse yet, that someone has apparently developed a device that turns real superpowers into silly ones. Teaching themselves on the fly how to get past their prejudice and work together, Rafter, his little brother, Benny, and Juanita follow a well-laid-out chain of clues and deductions to the climactic discovery of a third, genuinely nefarious family, the Joneses, and a fiendishly clever scheme to dispose of all the Baileys and Johnsons at once. Can they carry the day?

A solid debut: fluent, funny and eminently sequel-worthy. (Adventure. 10-12)

Pub Date: Jan. 21, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-06-220961-0

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Nov. 2, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2013

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Wholesome shading to bland, but well-stocked with exotic creatures and locales, plus an agreeable cast headed by a child...

KEEPER OF THE LOST CITIES

A San Diego preteen learns that she’s an elf, with a place in magic school if she moves to the elves’ hidden realm.

Having felt like an outsider since a knock on the head at age 5 left her able to read minds, Sophie is thrilled when hunky teen stranger Fitz convinces her that she’s not human at all and transports her to the land of Lumenaria, where the ageless elves live. Taken in by a loving couple who run a sanctuary for extinct and mythical animals, Sophie quickly gathers friends and rivals at Foxfire, a distinctly Hogwarts-style school. She also uncovers both clues to her mysterious origins and hints that a rash of strangely hard-to-quench wildfires back on Earth are signs of some dark scheme at work. Though Messenger introduces several characters with inner conflicts and ambiguous agendas, Sophie herself is more simply drawn as a smart, radiant newcomer who unwillingly becomes the center of attention while developing what turn out to be uncommonly powerful magical abilities—reminiscent of the younger Harry Potter, though lacking that streak of mischievousness that rescues Harry from seeming a little too perfect. The author puts her through a kidnapping and several close brushes with death before leaving her poised, amid hints of a higher destiny and still-anonymous enemies, for sequels.

Wholesome shading to bland, but well-stocked with exotic creatures and locales, plus an agreeable cast headed by a child who, while overly fond of screaming, rises to every challenge. (Fantasy. 10-12)

Pub Date: Oct. 2, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-4424-4593-2

Page Count: 496

Publisher: Aladdin

Review Posted Online: July 18, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2012

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