KINGDOM OF THE GOLDEN DRAGON

The adolescent heroes of City of the Beasts are off for another journey with primitive peoples and spectacular creatures in this clunky sequel. Alexander and his Brazilian friend, Nadia, join Alexander’s grandmother Kate on an International Geographic journalistic expedition to the Himalayas. On their visit to the Forbidden Kingdom, they hope to see the mysterious Golden Dragon, an ancient artifact with prophetic powers. Unbeknownst to the adventurers, wicked agents of the second richest man in the world are also on their way to the Forbidden Kingdom, hoping to steal the Golden Dragon and its secret. With the telepathically communicated help of Prince Dil Bahadur, the ascetic teen heir to the throne, Nadia and Alexander must save the day. Bestial Yetis and Buddhist monks work alongside the animal totems Nadia and Alexander discovered in their prior enterprise. The legally enforced primitivism of the People of the Dragon is ultimately and incongruously preserved by Alexander’s knowledge of 21st-century technology. Awkward and overly expository prose makes this otherwise promising offering waver between magical adventure and social-studies lesson. (Fiction. 13-15)

Pub Date: May 1, 2004

ISBN: 0-06-058942-6

Page Count: 448

Publisher: HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2004

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GETTING NEAR TO BABY

Couloumbis’s debut carries a family through early stages of grief with grace, sensitivity, and a healthy dose of laughter. In the wake of Baby’s sudden death, the three Deans remaining put up no resistance when Aunt Patty swoops in to take away 12-year-old Willa Jo and suddenly, stubbornly mute JoAnn, called “Little Sister,” in the misguided belief that their mother needs time alone. Well-meaning but far too accustomed to getting her way, Aunt Patty buys the children unwanted new clothes, enrolls them in a Bible day camp for one disastrous day, and even tries to line up friends for them. While politely tolerating her hovering, the two inseparable sisters find their own path, hooking up with a fearless, wonderfully plainspoken teenaged neighbor and her dirt-loving brothers, then, acting on an obscure but ultimately healing impulse, climbing out onto the roof to get a bit closer to Heaven, and Baby. Willa Jo tells the tale in a nonlinear, back-and-forth fashion that not only prepares readers emotionally for her heartrending account of Baby’s death, but also artfully illuminates each character’s depths and foibles; the loving relationship between Patty and her wiser husband Hob is just as complex and clearly drawn as that of Willa Jo and Little Sister. Lightening the tone by poking gentle fun at Patty and some of her small-town neighbors, the author creates a cast founded on likable, real-seeming people who grow and change in response to tragedy. (Fiction. 11-13)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-399-23389-X

Page Count: 211

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 1999

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Even those who loved the first book might find too little logic in this conclusion

THE PACK

A group of shape-shifting runaways from the circus, on the run from genocidal hunters, tries to find a home.

Flo, her boyfriend, Jett, and the other shifters just want to find a strong pack to join. The teenagers (all either white or with no identified race) can all shift into an animal form: bears or tigers, parrots or rats, elephants or horses. The frightened escapees, who’ve lost many of their loved ones to hunters, have been seeking some safe place in the woods. The members of this huge cast (with too many names and animal forms to keep track of) have a wide array of agendas. Should they join the wild pack? The wolf pack? Should they even stay together? After brief dramas, many of these newly introduced characters vanish, never to be heard from again. Finally, Flo and the shifters are captured by hunters, who are in league with the lion who used to run their circus, who’d been betraying them for years and who now seeks to strike a bargain. Further dramatic revelations and betrayals await, of course. There’s no attempt to summarize the events of The Wanderers (2015), and with so many characters, side quests, and double crosses, it’s often difficult to keep track.

Even those who loved the first book might find too little logic in this conclusion . (Fantasy. 13-15)

Pub Date: Oct. 3, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-5107-1218-8

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Sky Pony Press

Review Posted Online: Aug. 27, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2017

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