A purposeful but not simplistic opener from the creators of the Hank Zipzer series.

READ REVIEW

ZERO TO HERO

From the Ghost Buddy series , Vol. 1

Eleven-year-old Billy Broccoli’s move up to middle school is complicated by a teenage ghost determined to give him lessons in how to be cool.

The nerdy lad already has a lot on his plate: new house (with a bedroom done up in pink and lavender), new stepfather and prickly older stepsister, new school whose principal is his mother and nosy, bullying schoolmate Rod Brownstone for a next-door neighbor. It is understandable, then, that he’s only temporarily freaked out when hyperconfident former jock Hoover “The Hoove” Porterhouse III, a ghost killed 99 years ago, swims into view and grandly announces that Billy is his special project. It seems that the Hoove has just one more year to pull up his failing celestial grades in “Responsibility” and “Helping Others” or be tied to that house and surrounding property forever—a fate worse than, well…. As it happens, the schooling goes both ways, and by the end not only has Billy been guided away from wearing fart-joke T-shirts and taking tuna sandwiches for lunch, he’s shown the Hoove a better way to get Brownstone off his case than responding in kind when the bully engineers a public humiliation.

A purposeful but not simplistic opener from the creators of the Hank Zipzer series. (Fantasy. 10-12)

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-545-29887-2

Page Count: 176

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Oct. 12, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2011

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

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

Did you like this book?

Fans of R.J. Palacio's Wonder (2012) will appreciate this feel-good story of friendship and unconventional smarts.

FISH IN A TREE

Hunt draws a portrait of dyslexia and getting along.

Ally Nickerson, who’s passed through seven schools in seven years, maintains a Sketchbook of Impossible Things. A snowman in a furnace factory is more plausible than imagining herself doing something right—like reading. She doesn't know why, but letters dance and give her headaches. Her acting out to disguise her difficulty causes headaches for her teachers, who, oddly, never consider dyslexia, even though each notices signs like inconsistent spellings of the same word. Ally's confusion is poignant when misunderstandings like an unintentional sympathy card for a pregnant teacher make her good intentions backfire, and readers will sympathize as she copes with the class "mean girls." When a creative new teacher, Mr. Daniels, steps in, the plot turns more uplifting but also metaphor-heavy; a coin with a valuable flaw, cupcakes with hidden letters, mystery boxes and references to the Island of Misfit Toys somewhat belabor the messages that things aren't always what they seem and everyone is smart in their own ways. Despite emphasis on "thinking outside the box," characters are occasionally stereotypical—a snob, a brainiac, an unorthodox teacher—but Ally's new friendships are satisfying, as are the recognition of her dyslexia and her renewed determination to read.

Fans of R.J. Palacio's Wonder (2012) will appreciate this feel-good story of friendship and unconventional smarts. (Fiction. 10-12)

Pub Date: Feb. 5, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-399-16259-6

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Nancy Paulsen Books

Review Posted Online: Nov. 18, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2014

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet
more