Warm, if frothy, acknowledgment of the value of keeping true, longtime friends.

ADDIE BELL'S SHORTCUT TO GROWING UP

On the eve of her 12th birthday Addie wishes she were 16.

For Addie, short for Adeline (white, and with a stay-at-home mom and working dad), life is comfortable and benign in Brody’s amiable, lighthearted friendship drama. Addie and best friend Grace worship a boy band and hang out in Addie’s backyard playhouse. But Addie is cosmically frustrated with all the things she wishes for but can’t yet have: a cellphone, a dog, permission to wear makeup, a car. An elderly neighbor’s gift of a wishing box provides the way to skip over the rest of middle school. In a moment reminiscent of 13 Going on 30, Addie wakes to find that she’s 16 and besties with her vlog partner, alpha (and mean) girl Clementine. Navigating the intricacies of driving, texting emojis, applying makeup, attending classes in trigonometry and French, and flirting with boys as a 12-year-old makes for a funny, occasionally poignant tale, firmly from Addie’s viewpoint. Other characters are less well-drawn. Despite a connection with a boy who blossoms as a teenager, Addie’s loss and reclamation centers on best friend Grace, coldly distant in the high school version of their lives. Addie’s sorting out of choices by her younger self is done with a light touch, and readers will be satisfied with the outcome.

Warm, if frothy, acknowledgment of the value of keeping true, longtime friends. (Fantasy. 9-12)

Pub Date: Feb. 14, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-399-55510-7

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: Oct. 19, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2016

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However tried and true, the Harry Potter–esque elements and set pieces don’t keep this cumbersome coming-of-age tale afloat,...

EXILE

From the Keeper of the Lost Cities series , Vol. 2

Full-blown middle-volume-itis leaves this continuation of the tale of a teenage elf who has been genetically modified for so-far undisclosed purposes dead in the water.

As the page count burgeons, significant plot developments slow to a trickle. Thirteen-year-old Sophie manifests yet more magical powers while going head-to-head with hostile members of the Lost Cities Council and her own adoptive elvin father, Grady, over whether the clandestine Black Swan cabal, her apparent creators and (in the previous episode) kidnappers, are allies or enemies. Messenger tries to lighten the tone by dressing Sophie and her classmates at the Hogwarts-ian Foxfire Academy as mastodons for a silly opening ceremony and by having her care for an alicorn—a winged unicorn so magnificent that even its poop sparkles. It’s not enough; two sad memorial services, a trip to a dreary underground prison, a rash of adult characters succumbing to mental breakdowns and a frequently weepy protagonist who is increasingly shunned as “the girl who was taken” give the tale a soggy texture. Also, despite several cryptic clues and a late attack by hooded figures, neither the identity nor the agenda of the Black Swan comes closer to being revealed.

However tried and true, the Harry Potter–esque elements and set pieces don’t keep this cumbersome coming-of-age tale afloat, much less under way. (Fantasy 10-12)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-4424-4596-3

Page Count: 576

Publisher: Simon Pulse/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: July 17, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2013

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A smart, fresh take on an old favorite makes for a terrific series kickoff

THE GREAT SHELBY HOLMES

From the Shelby Holmes series , Vol. 1

A modern Sherlock Holmes retelling brings an 11-year-old black John Watson into the sphere of know-it-all 9-year-old white detective Shelby Holmes.

John's an Army brat who's lived in four states already. Now, with his parents' divorce still fresh, the boy who's lived only on military bases must explore the wilds of Harlem. His new life in 221A Baker St. begins inauspiciously, as before he's even finished moving in, his frizzy-haired neighbor blows something up: "BOOM!" But John's great at making friends, and Shelby certainly seems like an interesting kid to know. Oddly loquacious, brusque, and extremely observant, Shelby's locally famous for solving mysteries. John’s swept up in her detecting when a wealthy, brown-skinned classmate enlists their help in the mysterious disappearance of her beloved show dog, Daisy. Whatever could have happened to the prizewinning Cavalier King Charles spaniel? Has she been swiped by a jealous competitor? Has Daisy’s trainer—mysteriously come into enough money to take a secret weekend in Cozumel—been placing bets against his own dog? Brisk pacing, likable characters, a few silly Holmes jokes ("I'm Petunia Cumberbatch," says Shelby while undercover), and a diverse neighborhood, carefully and realistically described by John, are ingredients for success.

A smart, fresh take on an old favorite makes for a terrific series kickoff . (Mystery. 9-11)

Pub Date: Sept. 6, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-68119-051-8

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Review Posted Online: June 22, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2016

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