A gripping, educational page-turner about a pressing issue that affects millions worldwide.

Arriving as traumatized stowaways, Azari and her mother seek refuge in Ireland, where they navigate the country’s troubling system for working with asylum seekers.

In their home country—an unidentified analogue of impoverished nations where women lack basic rights—girls receive little education. Azari left school at 12 but knows a little English, unlike her illiterate mother, so she must repeatedly tell government officials their story, reliving the trauma each time. Though the officials are civil, the system into which refugees are dumped is inhumane and bureaucratic. Application submitted, they wait out the process with other asylum seekers, billeted in one of the run-down, overcrowded facilities the government rents from private companies. Conditions are unsanitary, and residents are fed substandard fare. A mixed bunch in every way, the refugees are united in their longing for their traditional foods. Brown-skinned Azari is acutely aware of the many continents and cultures the refugees come from and the divisions among them, but to the Irish girls at her school, their enrichment class is simply Black School. Some locals are friendly—like the girl who helps her with menstrual supplies and invites her to book club and the boy who shares her love and talent for running. Others simply want the refugees gone—and are willing to go to extreme lengths. A resourceful, determined survivor, Azari exemplifies the courage and endurance of refugees.

A gripping, educational page-turner about a pressing issue that affects millions worldwide. (additional information, glossary) (Fiction. 11-14)

Pub Date: Jan. 3, 2023

ISBN: 9781912417858

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Little Island

Review Posted Online: Dec. 23, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2023


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


A sly, side-splitting hoot from start to finish.

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. 21, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2016

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