Cheaney effectively combines multiple layers of mystery with an uplifting message about resilience.

SOMEBODY ON THIS BUS IS GOING TO BE FAMOUS

An intriguing mystery, a cataclysmic storm and a school bus accident converge with extraordinary results.

Nine of the students who ride Mrs. B.’s school bus are about to find their lives intersecting in unexpected ways. A new stop on their established bus route stirs little curiosity until several students notice that a passenger never appears. As seventh-grader Bender collaborates with other students in his quest for the truth, they uncover the repercussions of a tragic event that occurred nearly two decades earlier. Cheaney immediately immerses readers in the action, opening with the chaotic accident scene and then transitioning back nine months to the first day of school. Following the months of the school year, the chapters highlight different characters. Even as she drops subtle hints regarding the mystery, the author reveals the challenges the characters face. With the nine key characters in a variety of middle school grades and situations, the tale explores a range of life experiences. It addresses familiar issues, such as defining self-worth and social relationships. With compassion and insight, Cheaney also delves into the anguish that comes with watching a beloved family member decline into illness and explores the effects secrecy has on children’s lives. As events culminate in the accident, the characters must rely upon their inner resolve during a crucial turning point.

Cheaney effectively combines multiple layers of mystery with an uplifting message about resilience. (Mystery. 10-14)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4022-9297-2

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Sourcebooks Jabberwocky

Review Posted Online: June 18, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2014

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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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A thought-provoking title for sophisticated readers.

THE MYSTERIOUS DISAPPEARANCE OF AIDAN S. (AS TOLD TO HIS BROTHER)

A missing boy returns from another world. Will anyone believe his story?

When 12-year-old Aidan goes missing, his family and community members search everywhere in their small town. Things progress from worrying to terrifying when Aidan doesn’t turn up. No note. No trace. Not even a body. Six days later, Aidan’s younger brother, Lucas, finds Aidan alive in the attic they’d searched many times before. Aidan claims he was in a magical world called Aveinieu and that he got there through a dresser. While everyone around the brothers searches for answers, Lucas gets Aidan to open up about Aveinieu. Lucas, who narrates the story, grapples with the impossibility of the situation as he pieces it all together. Is any part of Aidan’s story true? YA veteran Levithan’s first foray into middle grade is a poignant tale of brotherly love and family trauma. The introspective writing, funneled through a precocious narrator, is as much about what truth means as about what happened. Though an engaging read for the way it makes readers consider and reconsider the mystery, the slow burn may deter those craving tidy resolutions. Bookish readers, however, will delight in the homages to well-known books, including When You Reach Me and The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. The cast defaults to White; the matter-of-fact inclusion of LGBTQ+ characters is noteworthy.

A thought-provoking title for sophisticated readers. (Mystery/fantasy. 10-13)

Pub Date: Feb. 2, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-984848-59-8

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: Dec. 25, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2021

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