TOURNAMENT

The debut YA novel from author duo Goebel and Jacisinova finds a group of teenagers fighting to prevent the next nuclear catastrophe.
Thirty years after World War III, the world—what’s left of it—has finally learned from its mistakes. All weapons and warfare are illegal, and a single world government is responsible for guarding the few remaining nuclear missiles. Control of this international body changes every two years, but instead of elections, the head of this organization is decided by a youth soccer tournament: Whichever team wins, its country’s leader controls the global government. China has won the past five tournaments, but this year, for the first time ever, the nation of Alaska has a shot at taking the title. Alaska, which is all that’s left of the former United States, is led by the all-star trio of Jason, the determined goalie; Cassie, a girl trying to prove herself in a boy’s world; and Reed, the brilliant striker and spoiled son of Alaska’s security minister. But history is doomed to repeat itself. Jason’s twin brother, Nate, sent to a secret government training facility after his soccer career was ended by injury, reveals to his brother the president’s plot to take over the world, win or lose. There is plenty of excitement here, almost all of it on the soccer pitch. The stakes couldn’t be higher, yet somehow the reader doesn’t feel the dread. There’s plenty of sneaking between rooms at the World Cup village, but the book is never clear on what, exactly, are the consequences of getting caught. Evil is rarely in the flesh: The president appears infrequently and briefly, the soccer coach is harsh but not sinister, and Reed’s father is more of a benign pawn than an actual enemy. The reader waits for the kids to make a stand or for at least the inkling of an uprising. Instead, the kids just keep scoring goals.

Young readers are sure to relate to these characters, but the book needs to spend more time off the field.

Pub Date: June 11, 2013

ISBN: 978-0615817651

Page Count: 300

Publisher: Menotomy Press

Review Posted Online: Nov. 19, 2014

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Readers can still rely on this series to bring laughs.

WRECKING BALL

From the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series , Vol. 14

The Heffley family’s house undergoes a disastrous attempt at home improvement.

When Great Aunt Reba dies, she leaves some money to the family. Greg’s mom calls a family meeting to determine what to do with their share, proposing home improvements and then overruling the family’s cartoonish wish lists and instead pushing for an addition to the kitchen. Before bringing in the construction crew, the Heffleys attempt to do minor maintenance and repairs themselves—during which Greg fails at the work in various slapstick scenes. Once the professionals are brought in, the problems keep getting worse: angry neighbors, terrifying problems in walls, and—most serious—civil permitting issues that put the kibosh on what work’s been done. Left with only enough inheritance to patch and repair the exterior of the house—and with the school’s dismal standardized test scores as a final straw—Greg’s mom steers the family toward moving, opening up house-hunting and house-selling storylines (and devastating loyal Rowley, who doesn’t want to lose his best friend). While Greg’s positive about the move, he’s not completely uncaring about Rowley’s action. (And of course, Greg himself is not as unaffected as he wishes.) The gags include effectively placed callbacks to seemingly incidental events (the “stress lizard” brought in on testing day is particularly funny) and a lampoon of after-school-special–style problem books. Just when it seems that the Heffleys really will move, a new sequence of chaotic trouble and property destruction heralds a return to the status quo. Whew.

Readers can still rely on this series to bring laughs. (Graphic/fiction hybrid. 8-12)

Pub Date: Nov. 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4197-3903-3

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Amulet/Abrams

Review Posted Online: Nov. 19, 2019

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A terrific choice for the preschool crowd.

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TIME FOR SCHOOL, LITTLE BLUE TRUCK

Little Blue Truck learns that he can be as important as the big yellow school bus.

Little Blue Truck is driving along the country road early one morning when he and driver friend Toad come across a big, yellow, shiny school bus. The school bus is friendly, and so are her animal passengers, but when Little Blue Truck wishes aloud he could do an important job like hers, the school bus says only a bus of her size and features can do this job. Little Blue Truck continues along, a bit envious, and finds Piggy crying by the side of the road, having missed the bus. Little Blue tells Piggy to climb in and takes a creative path to the school—one the bus couldn’t navigate—and with an adventurous spirit, gets Piggy there right on time. The simple, rhyming text opens the story with a sweet, fresh, old-fashioned tone and continues with effortlessly rhythmical lines throughout. Little Blue is a brave, helpful, and hopeful character young readers will root for. Adults will feel a rush of nostalgia and delight in sharing this story with children as the animated vehicles and animals in innocent, colorful countryside scenes evoke wholesome character traits and values of growth, grit, and self-acceptance. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

A terrific choice for the preschool crowd. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: June 29, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-358-41224-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2021

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