A novel that will have readers reflecting on their own experiences of grief, longing, regret, survival, and overcoming.

A TEAR IN THE OCEAN

In the companion to A Crack in the Sea (2017), Bouwman offers stories of loss, hope, perseverance, and the repercussions of severed platonic and familial bonds.

In the book’s present day of 1949 in the “second world,” 12-year-old Putnam, son of the king of Raftworld, is impatient with his father’s refusal to take action to correct the mysterious salinization of their water, so he leaves home to do it himself. Meanwhile, Islander Artie, also 12, flees an abusive home that’s become even worse since her mother’s death. They do not intend to journey together, but a twist of fate finds them both stealing the same boat. In a separate storyline, a century earlier, 14-year-old Rayel, daughter of the then-king of Raftworld, runs away to escape an arranged marriage. These flights lead to unexpected happenings: Putnam and Artie’s friendship and Rayel’s discovery of magic within herself and unlikely friends. They also bring great trials, from physical privation to the looming feelings that nefarious presences watch and follow. Though their voyages begin at different times, all three unknowingly take the same route toward the cold southern part of their world and are eventually connected, leading to truths and revelations. Bouwman masterfully infuses old fairy tales and legends into her alternate-universe adventure, meticulously weaving times and storylines into a riveting plot. All three protagonists have brown skin. Shimizu’s energetic black-and-white illustrations add visual drama.

A novel that will have readers reflecting on their own experiences of grief, longing, regret, survival, and overcoming. (Fantasy. 10-14)

Pub Date: Jan. 22, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-399-54522-1

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2018

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Gripping and pretty dark—but, in the end, food, family, friendship, and straight facts win out over guile, greed, and terror.

THE ICKABOG

Rowling buffs up a tale she told her own children about a small, idyllic kingdom nearly destroyed by corrupt officials.

In the peaceful land of Cornucopia, the Ickabog has always been regarded as a legendary menace until two devious nobles play so successfully on the fears of naïve King Fred the Fearless that the once-prosperous land is devastated by ruinous taxes supposedly spent on defense while protesters are suppressed and the populace is terrorized by nighttime rampages. Pastry chef Bertha Beamish organizes a breakout from the local dungeon just as her son, Bert, and his friend Daisy Dovetail arrive…with the last Ickabog, who turns out to be real after all. Along with full plates of just deserts for both heroes and villains, the story then dishes up a metaphorical lagniappe in which the monster reveals the origins of the human race. The author frames her story as a set of ruminations on how evil can grow and people can come to believe unfounded lies. She embeds these themes in an engrossing, tightly written adventure centered on a stomach-wrenching reign of terror. The story features color illustrations by U.S. and Canadian children selected through an online contest. Most characters are cued as White in the text; a few illustrations include diverse representation.

Gripping and pretty dark—but, in the end, food, family, friendship, and straight facts win out over guile, greed, and terror. (Fantasy. 10-13)

Pub Date: Nov. 10, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-338-73287-0

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Nov. 17, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2020

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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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