The stories here offer action, humor and lessons about life and may well do the trick of connecting boys and books.

READ REVIEW

THE SPORTS PAGES

From the Guys Read series , Vol. 3

Ten writers and athletes contribute sports stories written exclusively for this volume.

The third installment in Scieszka’s Guys Read Library of Great Reading again seeks to lure young male readers into the world of books. Following Funny Business (2010) and Thriller (2011), The Sports Pages offers a smorgasbord of sportswriting—fiction and nonfiction—to appeal to every sports enthusiast. From baseball to football, ice hockey to track and mixed martial arts, there is plenty here for sports-minded readers to like, with lively action, humor and even a dose of mysticism in the form of magical grapefruit and a witch doctor. James Brown’s “The Choice” and Dustin Brown’s “Against All Odds” are fine nonfiction entries, akin to the motivational talks athletes often present at sports banquets. Tim Green’s “Find Your Fire” has the liveliest sports action, featuring a young offensive lineman learning to deal with changes in his life. Maximilian Funk, in Anne Ursu’s “Max Swings for the Fences,” tries to fit into the social scene of his new school and chooses the wrong way, with disastrous consequences. (Chris Crutcher’s “The Meat Grinder” is slated for inclusion but was not seen.)

The stories here offer action, humor and lessons about life and may well do the trick of connecting boys and books. (Short stories. 9-13)

Pub Date: Sept. 8, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-06-196378-0

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Walden Pond Press/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: June 20, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2012

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A sly, side-splitting hoot from start to finish.

THE MECHANICAL MIND OF JOHN COGGIN

The dreary prospect of spending a lifetime making caskets instead of wonderful inventions prompts a young orphan to snatch up his little sister and flee. Where? To the circus, of course.

Fortunately or otherwise, John and 6-year-old Page join up with Boz—sometime human cannonball for the seedy Wandering Wayfarers and a “vertically challenged” trickster with a fantastic gift for sowing chaos. Alas, the budding engineer barely has time to settle in to begin work on an experimental circus wagon powered by chicken poop and dubbed (with questionable forethought) the Autopsy. The hot pursuit of malign and indomitable Great-Aunt Beauregard, the Coggins’ only living relative, forces all three to leave the troupe for further flights and misadventures. Teele spins her adventure around a sturdy protagonist whose love for his little sister is matched only by his fierce desire for something better in life for them both and tucks in an outstanding supporting cast featuring several notably strong-minded, independent women (Page, whose glare “would kill spiders dead,” not least among them). Better yet, in Boz she has created a scene-stealing force of nature, a free spirit who’s never happier than when he’s stirring up mischief. A climactic clutch culminating in a magnificently destructive display of fireworks leaves the Coggin sibs well-positioned for bright futures. (Illustrations not seen.)

A sly, side-splitting hoot from start to finish. (Adventure. 11-13)

Pub Date: April 12, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-06-234510-3

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Walden Pond Press/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2016

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A few missed notes don’t prevent this novel from delivering a satisfying story even if the tune is familiar.

THE MYSTWICK SCHOOL OF MUSICRAFT

A toe-tapping fantasy novel mixes music and mystery.

Aficionados of middle-grade fantasy may find the premise recognizable: A parentless 12-year-old with unusual magical gifts is summoned to attend an elite boarding school in order to hone their craft. What makes this, YA author Khoury’s middle-grade debut, stand out is the focus on a special type of magic involving spells cast by playing musical instruments. After narrowly being accepted into Mystwick to study Musicraft with the most talented musicians in the world, Amelia Jones must prove that she has what it takes to perform musical spells and secure her spot at the school—or risk expulsion. Amelia struggles with difficult classes, mountains of homework, plus a roommate who hates her, and she quickly learns that someone—or something—seems to have it out for her. Staying at Mystwick will be more difficult than she ever imagined. Amelia’s only hope is the music she knows she is capable of creating, but she must find the courage and confidence to play it. Frenna’s lightly cartoony grayscale illustrations bring some of the pivotal scenes to life. Sparse physical descriptions paired with student names from a variety of cultures seem like a missed opportunity to describe ethnic and racial diversity explicitly; Amelia is white. Victoria, a guitarist who uses a wheelchair, is a featured secondary character.

A few missed notes don’t prevent this novel from delivering a satisfying story even if the tune is familiar. (Fantasy. 9-13)

Pub Date: Jan. 21, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-328-62563-2

Page Count: 368

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: Aug. 28, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2019

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