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THE BRIDGE BATTLE

From the Lemonade War series , Vol. 6

An unusually nuanced exploration of bullying; as perceptive as it is entertaining.

The summer following the events of The Lemonade War (2007) is one of literal as well as figurative bridge building for sibs Evan and Jessie.

Prickly 9-year-old Jessie is initially disgusted, as instead of being enrolled in a summer camp for young engineers, she’s relegated to “How to Make and Decorate Fairy Houses”—worse yet, she joins a trio of mean third grade girls led by nemesis Becky. For easygoing fifth grader Evan, it’s summer school, where he’s not only singled out for remedial tutoring, but has accidentally been placed with older middle schoolers with an established pecking order and Reed, a vicious bully, at the top. Unsurprisingly, in short order Jessie has hijacked her class, efficiently leaving Becky on the outside but leading everyone else in a seminar on bridge design and construction (learning along the way to tolerate the occasional toy troll or other nonscientific embellishment). Evan has a harder time as he battles powerful twin urges to stand with classmate Stevie, Reed’s favorite victim, or stand by to fit into the established social order. Making the better, if perhaps not safer, choice leads to a climactic brush with disaster…but with some timely help from a surprising source, Reed is ultimately sent packing in a satisfactory way. As before, it’s the interplay between Jessie’s fierce intellect and Evan’s emotional intelligence that resolves issues and boosts this series from good to great. Characters read White.

An unusually nuanced exploration of bullying; as perceptive as it is entertaining. (Fiction. 9-13)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-358-69299-7

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Clarion/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Aug. 30, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2022

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THE SCHOOL FOR GOOD AND EVIL

From the School for Good and Evil series , Vol. 1

Rich and strange (and kitted out with an eye-catching cover), but stronger in the set pieces than the internal logic.

Chainani works an elaborate sea change akin to Gregory Maguire’s Wicked (1995), though he leaves the waters muddied.

Every four years, two children, one regarded as particularly nice and the other particularly nasty, are snatched from the village of Gavaldon by the shadowy School Master to attend the divided titular school. Those who survive to graduate become major or minor characters in fairy tales. When it happens to sweet, Disney princess–like Sophie and  her friend Agatha, plain of features, sour of disposition and low of self-esteem, they are both horrified to discover that they’ve been dropped not where they expect but at Evil and at Good respectively. Gradually—too gradually, as the author strings out hundreds of pages of Hogwarts-style pranks, classroom mishaps and competitions both academic and romantic—it becomes clear that the placement wasn’t a mistake at all. Growing into their true natures amid revelations and marked physical changes, the two spark escalating rivalry between the wings of the school. This leads up to a vicious climactic fight that sees Good and Evil repeatedly switching sides. At this point, readers are likely to feel suddenly left behind, as, thanks to summary deus ex machina resolutions, everything turns out swell(ish).

Rich and strange (and kitted out with an eye-catching cover), but stronger in the set pieces than the internal logic. (Fantasy. 11-13)

Pub Date: May 14, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-06-210489-2

Page Count: 496

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Feb. 12, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2013

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FAKER

Glitzy glimpses of life on the make, lightened by a focus on alternatives rather than consequences.

A con man’s son yearns for a different way of life.

Having helped his single dad fleece wealthy marks since kindergarten, Trey is adept at spotting their rich offspring in each new school he attends and cultivating them until the time comes for a quick getaway. Now that he’s 12, though, the urge to make real friends and put down some roots has become insistent—particularly since he’s drawn to Kaylee, a new classmate in his latest middle school. How can he convince his dad, who’s in the midst of luring local investors into a fantastically lucrative scheme involving a fictive electric car, that it’s time to bag the family profession and settle down? Korman goes more for ironic humor than the physical or stand-up sort in this book, as shown by Trey’s enrollment in an ethics class that forces him into some decidedly hypocritical stances. Much like Trey himself, instant new bestie Logan and his parents turn out to be not at all who they seem. And though there are no bullies or real baddies in the cast on the way to the story’s rosy but implausible resolution, Trey’s malign, high-strung, and wildly reckless huckster of a little sister from hell definitely adds both conflict and suspense to this provocative outing. Main characters read white.

Glitzy glimpses of life on the make, lightened by a focus on alternatives rather than consequences. (Fiction. 9-12)

Pub Date: July 2, 2024

ISBN: 9781338826753

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: April 5, 2024

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2024

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