An enjoyable frolic with a great message that kids won't even notice they're absorbing.

HOW TO OUTSWIM A SHARK WITHOUT A SNORKEL

From the My Life Is a Zoo series , Vol. 2

Which is worse: a shark or a 13-year-old bully?

Ana Wright is more worried about working with her archnemesis, Ashley, than she is about handling the sharks at the new Marine Adventure Zone in her family’s zoo. Ashley has always been beautiful, popular and mean, and now Ana fears Ashley is going to seek revenge for a trick Ana played on her a few weeks ago. But it turns out that Ashley is pretty nice and even helps Ana out with some wardrobe issues. Can Ana ever shake off the feeling that Ashley's mean side may be revealed at any moment? Add into the mix a pact over a first kiss plus her always-annoying twin brother, and it's no surprise Ana starts to stress. Keating maintains the same humorous, lightly soul-searching tone, perfect for a barely teenage girl, with which she infused Ana’s first outing, How to Outrun a Crocodile When Your Shoes Are Untied (2014). Ana and her friends explore the widening doorway of adolescence in a way that's both innocent and marked with fresh knowledge about desire and disaster in the realm of relationships. Occasionally, Ana's inner monologue leans too heavily on material she's previously explored, such as whether or not Kevin likes her, but the overall theme of living up to one’s own expectations makes for solid narrative bedrock.

An enjoyable frolic with a great message that kids won't even notice they're absorbing. (Fiction. 9-13)

Pub Date: Jan. 6, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-4022-9758-8

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Sourcebooks Jabberwocky

Review Posted Online: Nov. 4, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2014

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GIRL'S BEST FRIEND

From the Maggie Brooklyn Mysteries series

In this series debut, Maggie Sinclair tracks down a dognapper and solves a mystery about the noises in the walls of her Brooklyn brownstone apartment building. The 12-year-old heroine, who shares a middle name—Brooklyn—with her twin brother, Finn, is juggling two dogwalking jobs she’s keeping secret from her parents, and somehow she attracts the ire of the dogs’ former walker. Maggie tells her story in the first person—she’s self-possessed and likable, even when her clueless brother invites her ex–best friend, now something of an enemy, to their shared 12th birthday party. Maggie’s attention to details helps her to figure out why dogs seem to be disappearing and why there seem to be mice in the walls of her building, though astute readers will pick up on the solution to at least one mystery before Maggie solves it. There’s a brief nod to Nancy Drew, but the real tensions in this contemporary preteen story are more about friendship and boy crushes than skullduggery. Still, the setting is appealing, and Maggie is a smart and competent heroine whose personal life is just as interesting as—if not more than—her detective work. (Mystery. 10-13)

   

 

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2010

ISBN: 967-1-59990-525-9

Page Count: 208

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Review Posted Online: Sept. 15, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2010

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Ordinary kids in an extraordinary setting: still a recipe for bright achievements and belly laughs.

WAYSIDE SCHOOL BENEATH THE CLOUD OF DOOM

Rejoice! 25 years later, Wayside School is still in session, and the children in Mrs. Jewls’ 30th-floor classroom haven’t changed a bit.

The surreal yet oddly educational nature of their misadventures hasn’t either. There are out-and-out rib ticklers, such as a spelling lesson featuring made-up words and a determined class effort to collect 1 million nail clippings. Additionally, mean queen Kathy steps through a mirror that turns her weirdly nice and she discovers that she likes it, a four-way friendship survives a dumpster dive after lost homework, and Mrs. Jewls makes sure that a long-threatened “Ultimate Test” allows every student to show off a special talent. Episodic though the 30 new chapters are, there are continuing elements that bind them—even to previous outings, such as the note to an elusive teacher Calvin has been carrying since Sideways Stories From Wayside School (1978) and finally delivers. Add to that plenty of deadpan dialogue (“Arithmetic makes my brain numb,” complains Dameon. “That’s why they’re called ‘numb-ers,’ ” explains D.J.) and a wild storm from the titular cloud that shuffles the school’s contents “like a deck of cards,” and Sachar once again dishes up a confection as scrambled and delicious as lunch lady Miss Mush’s improvised “Rainbow Stew.” Diversity is primarily conveyed in the illustrations.

Ordinary kids in an extraordinary setting: still a recipe for bright achievements and belly laughs. (Fiction. 9-11)

Pub Date: March 3, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-296538-7

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Sept. 29, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2019

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