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Winning as ever, with an overall Little Princess feel reminiscent of McKay’s own sequel to that classic, Wishing for...

Steadfast love and friendship stand proof against the changes and challenges of war for a group of Edwardian-era children.

The effects of the Great War still resonate, at least for British novelists, and here McKay adds to the crowded shelves with a tale featuring an ensemble cast of siblings, relatives, and school friends (many previously met through flashbacks in Binny in Secret, 2015) growing up in Plymouth and summering in Cornwall before, during, and (for survivors) after. At the center of the cast is Clarissa “Clarry” Penrose, ignored by her widowed father, raised by housekeepers along with her fretful, saturnine older brother, Peter, but gifted with both a bright intellect and a happy, affectionate disposition. Both serve her in good stead through expanding self-expectations as a girl and then woman while others, notably dashing yet “recklessly kind” older cousin Rupert, enter the story and then go off to war. The author shifts among multiple points of view to explore developing relationships from different angles and to relate incidents along the curved front’s “monstrous smile” in a frank but dispassionate way that leaves readers free to respond as they will. She carries the story several years beyond the war’s end to show happy endings for nearly everyone and, for Clarry, a surprise reunion guaranteed to leave nary a dry eye in the house. As McKay fans can rightly expect, each character (all are white) displays an individually distinct mix of temperament, outlook, abilities, and foibles, but all, even the minor ones, are fundamentally decent and—though sometimes with some effort—lovable.

Winning as ever, with an overall Little Princess feel reminiscent of McKay’s own sequel to that classic, Wishing for Tomorrow (2010). (Historical fiction. 11-13)

Pub Date: Sept. 18, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5344-2710-5

Page Count: 336

Publisher: McElderry

Review Posted Online: June 10, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2018

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

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. 21, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2016

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This weave of perceptive, well-told tales wears its agenda with unusual grace.

Two young people of different generations get profound lessons in the tragic, enduring legacy of war.

Raised on the thrilling yarns of his great-grandpa Jacob and obsessed with both World War II and first-person–shooter video games, Trevor is eager to join the 93-year-old vet when he is invited to revisit the French town his unit had helped to liberate. In alternating chapters, the overseas trip retraces the parallel journeys of two young people—Trevor, 12, and Jacob, in 1944, just five years older—with similarly idealized visions of what war is like as they travel both then and now from Fort Benning to Omaha Beach and then through Normandy. Jacob’s wartime experiences are an absorbing whirl of hard fighting, sudden death, and courageous acts spurred by necessity…but the modern trip turns suspenseful too, as mysterious stalkers leave unsettling tokens and a series of hostile online posts that hint that Jacob doesn’t have just German blood on his hands. Korman acknowledges the widely held view of World War II as a just war but makes his own sympathies plain by repeatedly pointing to the unavoidable price of conflict: “Wars may have winning sides, but everybody loses.” Readers anticipating a heavy-handed moral will appreciate that Trevor arrives at a refreshingly realistic appreciation of video games’ pleasures and limitations. As his dad puts it: “War makes a better video game….But if you’re looking for a way to live, I’ll take peace every time.”

This weave of perceptive, well-told tales wears its agenda with unusual grace. (Fiction/historical fiction. 11-13)

Pub Date: July 21, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-338-29020-2

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: April 7, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2020

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