Though they may not shine in the robotics department, Luke and his team succeed in other ways in this likable comedy.

READ REVIEW

HOW LUNCHBOX JONES SAVED ME FROM ROBOTS, TRAITORS, AND MISSY THE CRUEL

Robotics and friendship come together for one ordinary seventh-grader.

Except for the fact that he isn’t speaking to his older brother, Rob, who is about to leave for Marine boot camp, narrator Luke Abbot likes his life and schedule the way it is, with after-school time devoted to online gaming. So it’s more than an inconvenience when he’s tapped for the school’s fledgling robotics team. No one among the motley crew of students really knows anything about robotics, and worse, mean-mouthed Missy and scary, large Lunchbox Jones are on the team. There are a few mildly scatological jokes and some tall-tale humor—for instance one girl is known for awesome dexterity with her toes. Brown’s voice for Luke is quite funny: “It was a shame when a smell could either be something horrible or food. You were never quite sure if you should enjoy it or not.” The introduction to robotics is nicely handled, with a realistic depiction of the limitations and rewards of student-built and -programmed robots. Lunchbox Jones turns out to have an ordinary name (Tim) and a poignant reason for carrying around a small blue lunchbox. And Luke finds a way to accept his brother’s choice.

Though they may not shine in the robotics department, Luke and his team succeed in other ways in this likable comedy. (Fiction. 9-13)

Pub Date: Aug. 11, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-61963-454-1

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Review Posted Online: May 18, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2015

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Good Guys and Bad get just deserts in the end, and Stanley gets plenty of opportunities to display pluck and valor in this...

HOLES

Sentenced to a brutal juvenile detention camp for a crime he didn't commit, a wimpy teenager turns four generations of bad family luck around in this sunburnt tale of courage, obsession, and buried treasure from Sachar (Wayside School Gets a Little Stranger, 1995, etc.).

Driven mad by the murder of her black beau, a schoolteacher turns on the once-friendly, verdant town of Green Lake, Texas, becomes feared bandit Kissin' Kate Barlow, and dies, laughing, without revealing where she buried her stash. A century of rainless years later, lake and town are memories—but, with the involuntary help of gangs of juvenile offenders, the last descendant of the last residents is still digging. Enter Stanley Yelnats IV, great-grandson of one of Kissin' Kate's victims and the latest to fall to the family curse of being in the wrong place at the wrong time; under the direction of The Warden, a woman with rattlesnake venom polish on her long nails, Stanley and each of his fellow inmates dig a hole a day in the rock-hard lake bed. Weeks of punishing labor later, Stanley digs up a clue, but is canny enough to conceal the information of which hole it came from. Through flashbacks, Sachar weaves a complex net of hidden relationships and well-timed revelations as he puts his slightly larger-than-life characters under a sun so punishing that readers will be reaching for water bottles.

Good Guys and Bad get just deserts in the end, and Stanley gets plenty of opportunities to display pluck and valor in this rugged, engrossing adventure. (Fiction. 9-13)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1998

ISBN: 978-0-374-33265-5

Page Count: 233

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2000

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A deftly told story that dramatizes how Danes appointed themselves bodyguards—not only for their king, who was in the habit...

NUMBER THE STARS

The author of the Anastasia books as well as more serious fiction (Rabble Starkey, 1987) offers her first historical fiction—a story about the escape of the Jews from Denmark in 1943.

Five years younger than Lisa in Carol Matas' Lisa's War (1989), Annemarie Johansen has, at 10, known three years of Nazi occupation. Though ever cautious and fearful of the ubiquitous soldiers, she is largely unaware of the extent of the danger around her; the Resistance kept even its participants safer by telling them as little as possible, and Annemarie has never been told that her older sister Lise died in its service. When the Germans plan to round up the Jews, the Johansens take in Annemarie's friend, Ellen Rosen, and pretend she is their daughter; later, they travel to Uncle Hendrik's house on the coast, where the Rosens and other Jews are transported by fishing boat to Sweden. Apart from Lise's offstage death, there is little violence here; like Annemarie, the reader is protected from the full implications of events—but will be caught up in the suspense and menace of several encounters with soldiers and in Annemarie's courageous run as courier on the night of the escape. The book concludes with the Jews' return, after the war, to homes well kept for them by their neighbors.

A deftly told story that dramatizes how Danes appointed themselves bodyguards—not only for their king, who was in the habit of riding alone in Copenhagen, but for their Jews. (Historical fiction. 9-12)

Pub Date: April 1, 1989

ISBN: 0547577095

Page Count: 156

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin

Review Posted Online: Oct. 17, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 1989

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