Appealing and thought-provoking, with an ending that suggests endless possibilities.

THE FOURTEENTH GOLDFISH

What would it be like if your grandfather turned up in your house as a 13-year-old boy?

For sixth-grader Ellie, this leads to a recognition of the importance of the cycle of life and the discovery of her own passion for science. After her scientist grandfather finds a way to regain his youth, he’s denied access to his lab and must come to live with Ellie and her mother. Although he looks young, his intellect and attitudes haven’t changed. He still tells Ellie’s mother what to wear and when to come home, and he loathes middle school even more than Ellie does. There’s plenty of opportunity for humor in this fish-out-of-water story and also a lesson on the perils as well as the pluses of scientific discovery. Divorced parents, a goth friend and a longed-for cellphone birthday present are among the familiar details setting this story firmly in the present day, like Holm’s Year Told Through Stuff series, rather than in the past, like her three Newbery Honor–winning historical novels. The author demonstrates understanding of and sympathy for the awkwardness of those middle school years. But she also gets in a plug for the excitement of science, following it up with an author’s note and suggestions for further exploration, mostly on the Web.

Appealing and thought-provoking, with an ending that suggests endless possibilities. (Science fiction. 10-14)

Pub Date: Aug. 26, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-375-87064-4

Page Count: 208

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: June 1, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2014

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An impressive sequel.

PAX, JOURNEY HOME

Boy and fox follow separate paths in postwar rebuilding.

A year after Peter finds refuge with former soldier Vola, he prepares to leave to return to his childhood home. He plans to join the Junior Water Warriors, young people repurposing the machines and structures of war to reclaim reservoirs and rivers poisoned in the conflict, and then to set out on his own to live apart from others. At 13, Peter is competent and self-contained. Vola marvels at the construction of the floor of the cabin he’s built on her land, but the losses he’s sustained have left a mark. He imposes a penance on himself, reimagining the story of rescuing the orphaned kit Pax as one in which he follows his father’s counsel to kill the animal before he could form a connection. He thinks of his heart as having a stone inside it. Pax, meanwhile, has fathered three kits who claim his attention and devotion. Alternating chapters from the fox’s point of view demonstrate Pax’s care for his family—his mate, Bristle; her brother; and the three kits. Pax becomes especially attached to his daughter, who accompanies him on a journey that intersects with Peter’s and allows Peter to not only redeem his past, but imagine a future. This is a deftly nuanced look at the fragility and strength of the human heart. All the human characters read as White. Illustrations not seen.

An impressive sequel. (Fiction. 10-14)

Pub Date: Sept. 7, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-06-293034-7

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: June 29, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2021

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Longing—for connection, for family, for a voice—roars to life with just a touch of magic.

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WHEN YOU TRAP A TIGER

A young girl bargaining for the health of her grandmother discovers both her family’s past and the strength of her own voice.

For many years, Lily’s Korean grandmother, Halmoni, has shared her Asian wisdom and healing powers with her predominantly White community. When Lily, her sister, Sam—both biracial, Korean and White—and their widowed mom move in with Halmoni to be close with her as she ages, Lily begins to see a magical tiger. What were previously bedtime stories become dangerously prophetic, as Lily begins to piece together fact from fiction. There is no need for prior knowledge of Korean folktales, although a traditional Korean myth propels the story forward. From the tiger, Lily learns that Halmoni has bottled up the hard stories of her past to keep sadness at bay. Lily makes a deal with the tiger to heal her grandmother by releasing those stories. What she comes to realize is that healing doesn’t mean health and that Halmoni is not the only one in need of the power of storytelling. Interesting supporting characters are fully developed but used sparingly to keep the focus on the simple yet suspenseful plot. Keller infuses this tale, which explores both the end of life and coming-of-age, with a sensitive examination of immigration issues and the complexity of home. It is at one and the same time completely American and thoroughly informed by Korean culture.

Longing—for connection, for family, for a voice—roars to life with just a touch of magic. (Fiction. 10-14)

Pub Date: Jan. 28, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5247-1570-0

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: Sept. 29, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2019

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