UNDERGROUND

In 1839, 16-year-old Charlotte Brown is sold by her owner in Tennessee to the proprietor of the Mammoth Cave Hotel in Kentucky, where she works as a maid. Charlotte cannot understand the appeal the cave has for its many visitors, or the passionate interest it holds for Stephen Bishop, a fellow slave, expert guide and chief explorer. Charlotte falls in love with Stephen’s adventurous spirit, intelligence and kindness. She also discovers that runaway slaves, making their way to Ohio, are coming to the hotel for help. Charlotte enlists Stephen’s help in hiding two runaways in the cave when slave-catchers come looking for them. The living conditions for the slaves are relatively good: Stephen can read and write, and has leave to explore the cave independently and make important discoveries. As a guide, he enjoys opportunities to direct white people. Charlotte’s worst experiences are in the past. She reflects on the horror of her family being separated and sold, and the brutality of former owners. Although they help other slaves escape to freedom, Charlotte and Stephen choose not to run away. In an afterword, Ferris explains that Charlotte and Stephen were real people but that there is no evidence that Mammoth Cave was used to shelter runaway slaves. This fast-paced historical novel offers readers an engrossing story and a unique perspective on a familiar subject. (Fiction. 10-14)

Pub Date: Nov. 13, 2007

ISBN: 978-0-374-37243-9

Page Count: 176

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2007

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A bit of envelope-pushing freshens up the formula.

HOCUS POCUS AND THE ALL-NEW SEQUEL

In honor of its 25th anniversary, a Disney Halloween horror/comedy film gets a sequel to go with its original novelization.

Three Salem witches hanged in 1693 for stealing a child’s life force are revived in 1993 when 16-year-old new kid Max completes a spell by lighting a magical candle (which has to be kindled by a virgin to work). Max and dazzling, popular classmate Allison have to keep said witches at bay until dawn to save all of the local children from a similar fate. Fast-forward to 2018: Poppy, daughter of Max and Allison, inadvertently works a spell that sends her parents and an aunt to hell in exchange for the gleeful witches. With help from her best friend, Travis, and classmate Isabella, on whom she has a major crush, Poppy has only hours to keep the weird sisters from working more evil. The witches, each daffier than the last, supply most of the comedy as well as plenty of menace but end up back in the infernal regions. There’s also a talking cat, a talking dog, a gaggle of costumed heroines, and an oblique reference to a certain beloved Halloween movie. Traditional Disney wholesomeness is spiced, not soured, by occasional innuendo and a big twist in the sequel. Poppy and her family are white, while Travis and Isabella are both African-American.

A bit of envelope-pushing freshens up the formula. (Fantasy. 10-15)

Pub Date: July 10, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-368-02003-9

Page Count: 528

Publisher: Freeform/Disney

Review Posted Online: June 17, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2018

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THE TEQUILA WORM

Sofia, growing up in an urban Latino neighborhood in McAllen, Texas, has a chance to attend an expensive boarding school in Austin on scholarship. Like her father, Sofia lives the life of the mind, rich with story and possibility. How can she convince her mother to let her take this opportunity? By learning to dance and showing her that she can leave home and still learn to become a good comadre. Canales, the author of the story collection Orange Candy Slices and Other Secret Tales (2001), is a graduate of Harvard Law School, suggesting that Sofia’s story at least closely parallels her own. She is an accomplished storyteller, though not yet, perhaps, a successful novelist. The episodic narrative has disconcerting leaps in time at the beginning, and a sense of completion, or a moral displayed, at several points throughout—all lacking the tension to carry the reader forward. This said, the characters and setting are so real to life that readers who connect with Sofia at the start will find many riches here, from a perspective that is still hard to find in youth literature. (Fiction. 10-14)

Pub Date: Aug. 9, 2005

ISBN: 0-385-74674-1

Page Count: 176

Publisher: Wendy Lamb/Random

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2005

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