Grab a flashlight and stay up late with this one.

LONG LOST

A mysterious book leads a girl into a century-old supernatural mystery.

When Fiona’s family moves across Massachusetts to Lost Lake, a small town that’s far closer to her older sister Arden’s figure skating club, Fiona resents both being uprooted and the constant focus on her accomplished sibling. To avoid spending hours sitting at one of Arden’s practices, knowledge-loving Fiona opts for a morning at the library, where she discovers a book called The Lost One that begins, “Once there were two sisters who did everything together. But only one of them disappeared.” Reading this book within a book, Fiona learns about characters Hazel and Pearl—relating heavily to younger Pearl, especially when she starts getting left behind, and knowing their story won’t have a happy ending. Fiona better endures slights from her family because she has the book to look forward to, but when she finally gets a library card, the book’s gone and isn’t even in the system. In response to a heartbreaking moment of being her family’s lowest priority, Fiona doubles down on solving the book’s mysteries—having determined its setting is Lost Lake—and finds increasingly spooky pieces of the puzzle. Although the two sets of sisters have different relationships and dynamics, the complexity of sisterhood links both storylines, resulting in nuanced relationships. The gore-free supernatural elements are more haunting than terrifying, foregrounding the characters’ journeys. Main characters default to White.

Grab a flashlight and stay up late with this one. (Paranormal mystery. 8-12)

Pub Date: May 11, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-06-269175-0

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Greenwillow Books

Review Posted Online: March 13, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2021

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Readers can still rely on this series to bring laughs.

WRECKING BALL

From the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series , Vol. 14

The Heffley family’s house undergoes a disastrous attempt at home improvement.

When Great Aunt Reba dies, she leaves some money to the family. Greg’s mom calls a family meeting to determine what to do with their share, proposing home improvements and then overruling the family’s cartoonish wish lists and instead pushing for an addition to the kitchen. Before bringing in the construction crew, the Heffleys attempt to do minor maintenance and repairs themselves—during which Greg fails at the work in various slapstick scenes. Once the professionals are brought in, the problems keep getting worse: angry neighbors, terrifying problems in walls, and—most serious—civil permitting issues that put the kibosh on what work’s been done. Left with only enough inheritance to patch and repair the exterior of the house—and with the school’s dismal standardized test scores as a final straw—Greg’s mom steers the family toward moving, opening up house-hunting and house-selling storylines (and devastating loyal Rowley, who doesn’t want to lose his best friend). While Greg’s positive about the move, he’s not completely uncaring about Rowley’s action. (And of course, Greg himself is not as unaffected as he wishes.) The gags include effectively placed callbacks to seemingly incidental events (the “stress lizard” brought in on testing day is particularly funny) and a lampoon of after-school-special–style problem books. Just when it seems that the Heffleys really will move, a new sequence of chaotic trouble and property destruction heralds a return to the status quo. Whew.

Readers can still rely on this series to bring laughs. (Graphic/fiction hybrid. 8-12)

Pub Date: Nov. 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4197-3903-3

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Amulet/Abrams

Review Posted Online: Nov. 19, 2019

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NIGHTBIRD

There’s a monster in Sidwell, Massachusetts, that can only be seen at night or, as Twig reveals, if passersby are near her house.

It’s her older brother, James, born with wings just like every male in the Fowler line for the last 200 years. They were cursed by the Witch of Sidwell, left brokenhearted by their forebear Lowell Fowler. Twig and James are tired of the secret and self-imposed isolation. Lonely Twig narrates, bringing the small town and its characters to life, intertwining events present and past, and describing the effects of the spell on her fractured family’s daily life. Longing for some normalcy and companionship, she befriends new-neighbor Julia while James falls in love with Julia’s sister, Agate—only to learn they are descendants of the Witch. James and Agate seem as star-crossed as their ancestors, especially when the townspeople attribute a spate of petty thefts and graffiti protesting the development of the woods to the monster and launch a hunt. The mix of romance and magic is irresistible and the tension, compelling. With the help of friends and through a series of self-realizations and discoveries, Twig grows more self-assured. She is certain she knows how to change the curse. In so doing, Twig not only changes James’ fate, but her own, for the first time feeling the fullness of family, friends and hope for the future.

Enchanting. (Magical realism. 9-12)

Pub Date: March 10, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-385-38958-7

Page Count: 208

Publisher: Wendy Lamb/Random

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2015

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