This title has all the ingredients—a doughty heroine and her admirable younger brother, an unreliable guide who can’t stay...

THE WHISPERING TREES

From the Thickety series , Vol. 2

This fantasy follow-up to A Path Begins (2014) continues the story of 12-year-old Kara Westfall and her brother, Taff, who escape their village by riding the mare Shadowdancer into the surrounding Thickety.

Tension picks up from Chapter 1, as the siblings flee through the forest. The children fall asleep on horseback and wake up in a huge meat-eating plant called a gritchenlock. Luckily, Kara remembers a trick their mother taught her that makes the plant drop them. Landing at the feet of the infamous witch Mary Kettle, Kara has to—reluctantly—accept the old witch as a guide and teacher. The siblings must evade monstrous animals; cross the Draye’varg, a dangerous mound of boulders that create dangerous simulacra; and, finally, destroy Imogen, a terrifying, tentacled predator. And then there is the Forest Demon….The unexpected climax and ending guarantee another book to enjoy. Readers new to the series will catch up quickly thanks to White’s adept incorporation of back story.

This title has all the ingredients—a doughty heroine and her admirable younger brother, an unreliable guide who can’t stay the same age for long, and a heavy “ick” factor—to keep readers glued to it. (Fantasy. 11-15)

Pub Date: March 10, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-06-225729-1

Page Count: 528

Publisher: Katherine Tegen/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Dec. 6, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2014

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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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THE LIGHTNING THIEF

From the Percy Jackson and the Olympians series , Vol. 1

Edgar Award–winning Riordan leaves the adult world of mystery to begin a fantasy series for younger readers. Twelve-year-old Percy (full name, Perseus) Jackson has attended six schools in six years. Officially diagnosed with ADHD, his lack of self-control gets him in trouble again and again. What if it isn’t his fault? What if all the outrageous incidents that get him kicked out of school are the result of his being a “half-blood,” the product of a relationship between a human and a Greek god? Could it be true that his math teacher Mrs. Dodds transformed into a shriveled hag with bat wings, a Fury, and was trying to kill him? Did he really vanquish her with a pen that turned into a sword? One need not be an expert in Greek mythology to enjoy Percy’s journey to retrieve Zeus’s master bolt from the Underworld, but those who are familiar with the deities and demi-gods will have many an ah-ha moment. Along the way, Percy and his cohort run into Medusa, Cerberus and Pan, among others. The sardonic tone of the narrator’s voice lends a refreshing air of realism to this riotously paced quest tale of heroism that questions the realities of our world, family, friendship and loyalty. (Fantasy. 12-15)

Pub Date: July 1, 2005

ISBN: 0-7868-5629-7

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Hyperion

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2005

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