A satisfying, action-packed return to the world of the Red Hand and a daring trio.

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Thieves of the Black Sea

From the Red Hand Adventures series , Vol. 4

In this fourth volume of an adventure series, a resourceful Moroccan orphan named Tariq and his loyal friends set out to return an ancient diary to its rightful home.

It’s 1914. Readers last saw intrepid cohorts Tariq, Fez, and Aseem stranded in the ocean after their hot air balloon crashed. Their friend Melbourne Jack died in the accident, but not before making Tariq promise to return a valuable artifact—Alexander the Great’s diary—to a circus in India led by Jack’s mentor, Foster Crowe. Fortunately, the boys are rescued by a band of sea Gypsies, led by the charming Capt. Scopas. Scopas desires revenge against Abdullah Ozek, an evil gangster in Constantinople, and asks the trio to help him. Along the way, the boys befriend a young woman named Pakize, a talented thief who steals to help her struggling neighborhood make ends meet, and discover that Ozek runs an illegal exotic animal trade. Meanwhile, English schoolgirl Margaret Owens sets out to rescue her classmate Inez from the German soldiers who captured her. Together, the girls must race through the Black Forest to France before the determined Maj. Lars Hostetler can catch them. And Foster follows the sinister Wu Chiang to Europe to stop him from using the power of the Red Hand Scrolls to start a world war. O’Neill (Legends of the Rif, 2015, etc.), an Ian Fleming for the middle-grade set, manages to smoothly jump among his groups of characters and their various escapades around the world—from Constantinople to Kathmandu, Bremen to Sarajevo—without leaving the reader confused about where each storyline left off. The narrative delivers rich cultural details, including vivid descriptions of delicious food and exotic locales (“Constantinople presented herself in full glory to the three boys. Her buildings were cast in a golden hue….On the hillside of the city, seven humongous and beautiful mosques, each with long and narrow towers called minarets, glowed in the morning sunshine”). Readers should feel as though they too are traversing the globe every time they fall back into this fast-paced tale. The pages will likely fly by far too quickly for the series’ loyal fans, who will be left waiting eagerly for the next installment. A warning: several moments of graphic violence might be too much for more squeamish young readers. 

A satisfying, action-packed return to the world of the Red Hand and a daring trio.

Pub Date: Oct. 11, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-9905469-9-3

Page Count: 278

Publisher: Black Ship Publishing

Review Posted Online: Dec. 8, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2017

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HOMELESS BIRD

1893

Pub Date: March 31, 2000

ISBN: 0-06-028454-4

Page Count: 250

Publisher: HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 1999

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THE LAST BOOK IN THE UNIVERSE

In this riveting futuristic novel, Spaz, a teenage boy with epilepsy, makes a dangerous journey in the company of an old man and a young boy. The old man, Ryter, one of the few people remaining who can read and write, has dedicated his life to recording stories. Ryter feels a kinship with Spaz, who unlike his contemporaries has a strong memory; because of his epilepsy, Spaz cannot use the mind probes that deliver entertainment straight to the brain and rot it in the process. Nearly everyone around him uses probes to escape their life of ruin and poverty, the result of an earthquake that devastated the world decades earlier. Only the “proovs,” genetically improved people, have grass, trees, and blue skies in their aptly named Eden, inaccessible to the “normals” in the Urb. When Spaz sets out to reach his dying younger sister, he and his companions must cross three treacherous zones ruled by powerful bosses. Moving from one peril to the next, they survive only with help from a proov woman. Enriched by Ryter’s allusions to nearly lost literature and full of intriguing, invented slang, the skillful writing paints two pictures of what the world could look like in the future—the burned-out Urb and the pristine Eden—then shows the limits and strengths of each. Philbrick, author of Freak the Mighty (1993) has again created a compelling set of characters that engage the reader with their courage and kindness in a painful world that offers hope, if no happy endings. (Fiction. 10-14)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2000

ISBN: 0-439-08758-9

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Blue Sky/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2000

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