The desert is brought to life in a scenic novel with an important lesson about humility.

WALK TILL YOU DISAPPEAR

A survival story about a wounded boy who is lost and injured in the Arizona desert in 1872.

A twist on the usual captivity Western, the story of young Miguel Abrano begins with the usual Native American clichés. Raised on a horse ranch in Arizona, young Miguel is a devout Hispanic Catholic who dreams of becoming a priest. But when Miguel’s father takes in a foreign traveler and asks him to translate an old family story written in a secret code, his well-laid plans fall apart. Shocked to learn that he and his family are secretly Sephardic Jews, Miguel rides angrily into the desert, where he is kidnapped by Apache warriors. Only after he escapes these men does he meet a kind Tohono O’odham boy named Rushing Cloud, who is escaping Indian boarding school and immediately agrees to help him. Per usual in the Western, the bad Natives are violent while the good Natives risk their own lives to educate the non-Native character and give him important spiritual lessons. The book’s saving grace is the twist: Young Miguel amends his judgmental Christian attitude after being inspired by Rushing Cloud. Miguel not only learns how to survive in the harsh desert—hunting, cooking, and tracking like an expert—he also learns to accept his complicated cultural inheritance.

The desert is brought to life in a scenic novel with an important lesson about humility. (afterword, glossary, bibliography) (Historical fiction. 8-14)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5415-5722-2

Page Count: 208

Publisher: Kar-Ben

Review Posted Online: July 28, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2019

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Plays to Rowling’s fan base; equally suited for gifting and reading aloud or alone.

THE CHRISTMAS PIG

A 7-year-old descends into the Land of the Lost in search of his beloved comfort object.

Jack has loved Dur Pig long enough to wear the beanbag toy into tattered shapelessness—which is why, when his angry older stepsister chucks it out the car window on Christmas Eve, he not only throws a titanic tantrum and viciously rejects the titular replacement pig, but resolves to sneak out to find DP. To his amazement, the Christmas Pig offers to guide him to the place where all lost Things go. Whiffs of childhood classics, assembled with admirable professionalism into a jolly adventure story that plays all the right chords, hang about this tale of loss and love. Along with family drama, Rowling stirs in fantasy, allegory, and generous measures of social and political commentary. Pursued by the Land’s cruel and monstrous Loser, Jack and the Christmas Pig pass through territories from the Wastes of the Unlamented, where booger-throwing Bad Habits roam, to the luxurious City of the Missed for encounters with Hope, Happiness, and Power (a choleric king who rejects a vote that doesn’t go his way). A joyful reunion on the Island of the Beloved turns poignant, but Christmas Eve being “a night for miracles and lost causes,” perhaps there’s still a chance (with a little help from Santa) for everything to come right? In both the narrative and Field’s accomplished, soft-focus illustrations, the cast presents White.

Plays to Rowling’s fan base; equally suited for gifting and reading aloud or alone. (Fantasy. 8-12)

Pub Date: Oct. 12, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-338-79023-8

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Oct. 21, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2021

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A memorable story of kindness, courage and wonder.

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WONDER

After being home-schooled for years, Auggie Pullman is about to start fifth grade, but he’s worried: How will he fit into middle school life when he looks so different from everyone else?

Auggie has had 27 surgeries to correct facial anomalies he was born with, but he still has a face that has earned him such cruel nicknames as Freak, Freddy Krueger, Gross-out and Lizard face. Though “his features look like they’ve been melted, like the drippings on a candle” and he’s used to people averting their eyes when they see him, he’s an engaging boy who feels pretty ordinary inside. He’s smart, funny, kind and brave, but his father says that having Auggie attend Beecher Prep would be like sending “a lamb to the slaughter.” Palacio divides the novel into eight parts, interspersing Auggie’s first-person narrative with the voices of family members and classmates, wisely expanding the story beyond Auggie’s viewpoint and demonstrating that Auggie’s arrival at school doesn’t test only him, it affects everyone in the community. Auggie may be finding his place in the world, but that world must find a way to make room for him, too.

A memorable story of kindness, courage and wonder. (Fiction. 8-14)

Pub Date: Feb. 14, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-375-86902-0

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: Dec. 3, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2011

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