A tale driven by its informational purpose, with only a short story’s worth of plot.

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LOST CAUSE

From the Seven (The Series) series

Posthumous messages and tantalizing clues send a teenager from Canada to Barcelona in search of a hidden chapter from his beloved grandfather’s past.

One of a septet of simultaneously published novels, all by different authors and featuring cousins who are each left a mission or task in their shared grandfather’s will, this takes Steve to Spain, where he discovers that his elder relative was a member of the International Brigades. He is guided by his grandfather’s old journal and also by Laia, an attractive young resident of the city who lectures him on the Spanish Civil War while taking him to several local memorial sites. Steve slowly gains insight into how it felt to believe passionately in a cause—even, in this case, a doomed one—and then to lose that innocent certainty in the blood and shock of war. The storyline is, though, at best only thin glue for a series of infodumps, and readers will get a stronger, more specific view of that conflict’s drama and course from William Loren Katz’s Lincoln Brigade: A Pictorial History (1989).

A tale driven by its informational purpose, with only a short story’s worth of plot. (map and family tree, not seen) (Fiction. 11-13)

Pub Date: Oct. 10, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-55469-944-5

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Orca

Review Posted Online: Aug. 8, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2012

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Readers will definitely want to have, know or be Maggie’s brothers—but she herself proves to be no slouch when it comes to...

FRIENDS WITH BOYS

Nervous, home-schooled by her absent and much-missed mom and saddled with three adored older brothers—and a ghost—Maggie starts high school.

Largely but not entirely left by her doting upper-grade sibs (who had “first days” of their own) to sink or swim, Maggie starts off in lonely isolation but quickly finds two great friends in Mohawk-wearing, multiply pierced, exuberantly logorrheic classmate Lucy and her quieter (but also Mohawk-topped) brother Alistair. Simmering complications soon reach a boil as Maggie discovers that Alistair and her own oldest brother Daniel have some sort of bad history, and on a more eldritch note, a woman’s ghost that Maggie had occasionally seen in the nearby graveyard takes to floating into her house and right up to her face. Filling monochrome ink-and-wash panels with wonderfully mobile faces, expressively posed bodies, wordless conversations in meaningful glances, funny banter and easy-to-read visual sequences ranging from hilarious to violent, Hicks crafts an upbeat, uncommonly engaging tale rich in humor, suspense, and smart, complex characters.

Readers will definitely want to have, know or be Maggie’s brothers—but she herself proves to be no slouch when it comes to coping with change and taking on challenges. (Graphic fantasy. 11-13)

Pub Date: Feb. 28, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-59643-556-8

Page Count: 224

Publisher: First Second/Roaring Brook

Review Posted Online: Jan. 4, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2012

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ZINK

Basing her novel on a one-page story written by an 11-year-old child shortly before her death from leukemia, Bennett (Life in the Fat Lane, 1998, etc.) creates a tale of courage personified. A herd of miniature zebras appears before Becky Zaslow on the day she is diagnosed with childhood cancer—leukemia. During times of painful treatment, the zebras take Becky away to Africa and the Serengeti where they fight off tough predators, cross the treacherous crocodile-filled Mara River, and tell tales about Zink, a mythological polka-dotted zebra. Becky’s secret journal outlines the course of each treatment and is interspersed with the tale of these playful zebras; they help her to remain courageous despite her fears. The zebras, not medical professionals, prepare Becky for death when her bone marrow transplant fails and she succumbs to a respiratory infection. As one of the zebras, Ice Z, tells her, “True courage is admitting we’re afraid and fighting the predators anyway.” After her death, Becky, as Zink, joins the zebra herd. With three pages of acknowledgments and a lengthy afterword, readers may gain more than they need to know about the true aspects of this poignant story, but the embellishments don’t interfere with the raw emotions explored, or the power of Becky’s journey as she learns to run with the herd. (glossary) (Fiction 11-13)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-385-32669-6

Page Count: 222

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 1999

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