THE BONES IN THE CLIFF

Stevenson, well-known for his lighthearted picture books, has written a surprisingly gritty novel that, with its economy of language, can easily be enjoyed by readers younger than its intended audience. Pete, 11, and his angry, drunken father have traveled around the country, hiding from a man Pete's father fears. Now they have ended up in the small town on Cutlass Island, where Pete's job is to meet every ferry and alert his father if the man shows up. Meantime he meets Rootie, a fearless female extrovert, who shows him hidden places on the island and who is his first confidante. Narrated by Pete, it is Rootie's character who really shines; she is the kind of friend every shy child needs, whose friendship only grows stronger in troubled times. Brooding and suspenseful, yet filled with wonderful moments that keenly demonstrate the way children really play together, the story moves quickly towards a violent resolution, dropping hints about Pete's difficult past like bread crumbs along the way. It should be a hit with reluctant readers and middle graders alike who are ready for a bit of realism and tension. (Fiction. 10+)

Pub Date: May 1, 1995

ISBN: 0-688-13745-8

Page Count: 119

Publisher: Greenwillow Books

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 1995

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MASTERPIECE

Eleven-year-old James Terik isn’t particularly appreciated in the Pompaday household. Marvin, a beetle who lives happily with his “smothering, overinvolved relatives” behind the Pompadays’ kitchen sink, has observed James closely and knows he’s something special even if the boy’s mother and stepfather don’t. Insect and human worlds collide when Marvin uses his front legs to draw a magnificent pen-and-ink miniature for James’s birthday. James is thrilled with his tiny new friend, but is horrified when his mother sees the beetle’s drawing and instantly wants to exploit her suddenly special son’s newfound talents. The web further tangles when the Metropolitan Museum of Art enlists James to help catch a thief by forging a miniature in the style of Renaissance artist Albrecht Dürer. Delightful intricacies of beetle life—a cottonball bed, playing horseshoes with staples and toothpicks—blend seamlessly with the suspenseful caper as well as the sentimental story of a complicated-but-rewarding friendship that requires a great deal of frantic leg-wiggling on Marvin’s part. Murphy’s charming pen-and-ink drawings populate the short chapters of this funny, winsome novel. (author’s note) (Fantasy. 10-14)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2008

ISBN: 978-0-8050-8270-8

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Christy Ottaviano/Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2008

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GOLDEN GATE

From the City Spies series , Vol. 2

The City Spies return.

Like any good spy thriller, this second adventure with MI6’s young secret agents begins in the middle of a perilous mission: Agents Brooklyn, 12, and Sydney, 14, are stealthily escorting two daughters of high-ranking Brits on an shipboard marine biology program for girls, which turns out to be good luck because the ship has just been boarded by Norwegian pirates who plan to kidnap them for ransom. Brooklyn and Sydney thwart them handily and return to Scotland, where they attend school under assumed names while continuing their spy training at a facility hidden inside a climate research station. Before MI6 can give them a new mission, the whole group—Puerto Rican Brooklyn (nee Sara Maria Martinez), Rwandan French Paris (ne Salomon Omborenga), White Australian Sydney (nee Olivia Rose), Nepali Kat (nee Amita Bishwakarma), and Brazilian Rio (ne João Cardozo)—accidentally stumble upon two new missions on their own. First, they help track down the long-lost children of their leader, fondly called Mother even though he’s a man, and then they figure out the true story behind the suspicious California death of a retired MI6 agent and ornithologist. Combining their skills in areas like math, hacking, and sneaking around, the prodigies traverse the Western hemisphere looking for clues. The thriller is well paced, the characters animated, and the adventure engaging.

A winner. (spy profiles) (Mystery. 10-14)

Pub Date: March 9, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-5344-1494-5

Page Count: 432

Publisher: Aladdin

Review Posted Online: Dec. 15, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2021

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