A winsome tale with a reverence for science and the humanities.

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THE TIME TRAVEL TEAM

THE GREAT HISTORIC MYSTERY

Hadden’s YA fantasy debut features a group of teens who are tasked with saving the world by some of history’s greatest thinkers.

Fourteen-year-old Tyme Newton lives in Chagrin Falls, Ohio. Her father, Benjamin, is president of the town’s vaguely described “mechanical engineering” factory. One day, in her father‘s office, she discovers an old wooden crate containing a first edition of Philosophæ Naturalis Principia Mathematica by her ancestor Isaac Newton. It also astoundingly contains a note, intended for his descendant, which reads, “you have come upon the beginning of a mystery.” The back of the book holds four “time crystals,” each supposedly able to power a trip back in time. Later that night, Tyme considers testing the crystals, but before she does, she remembers her Grandma Isabelle, who died three years before. Outside, a storm interrupts her thoughts, and lightning hits the O’Connells’ house across the street. Afterward, 14-year-old Zina O’Connell searches for her parents, but they seem to have disappeared. While wandering around the property, Zina finds a stone with carvings that read, in part, “To find your parents you will need… / A watch, a bulb, a brush, a kite.” Tyme and her friends Luna Edison, Avia Wright, and Olympia Van Gogh, have these things, but they have no idea of Zina’s plight. In fact, they’re beginning their own time-hopping mission. They soon receive guidance from their relatives Isaac Newton, Thomas Edison, Orville Wright, and Vincent Van Gogh, who’ve joined forces in a dimension called Intelligentsia. Only these geniuses descendants can stop a cosmic generator from overloading and causing Earth’s doom. Hadden is clearly enamored with all things scientific, and she strives to instill her passion for learning and the arts in her YA readers. The resulting adventure focuses on the heroic teens’ ancestries to kick the plot into high gear, and she adds a suspenseful, four-day countdown until the electricity machine will destroy the world. The author sidesteps the typical fretting over paradoxes when her characters travel back in time, instead allowing the girls to simply have fun—as when Olympia suggests a title for her ancestor’s latest work: “Well, it’s a night sky full of stars. You know, a starry night.” Tyme’s grandfather, Henry, frequently offers complementary notes of wisdom, as when he says, “We cannot live in the future, worrying about what lies ahead, or in the past....We must live now.” Coded ciphers and puzzles add further dimension to the narrative, as the girls must solve them to discover crucial details of their mission. Even famed dictionary compiler Noah Webster makes an appearance. Hadden’s core message, however, is the importance of teamwork and humility; Tyme’s ego—and her penchant for keeping secrets—nearly undoes the group and the mission, and her poor behavior is mirrored by Isaac Newton, offering a lesson for readers of all ages. By the end, everyone on the team has her own Idea Notebook to inspire future adventures in the series.

A winsome tale with a reverence for science and the humanities.

Pub Date: Oct. 11, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-9994812-2-6

Page Count: 353

Publisher: Windjammer Adventure Publishing

Review Posted Online: March 6, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2019

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Kin “[find] each other’s lives inscrutable” in this rich, sharp story about the way identity is formed.

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THE VANISHING HALF

Inseparable identical twin sisters ditch home together, and then one decides to vanish.

The talented Bennett fuels her fiction with secrets—first in her lauded debut, The Mothers (2016), and now in the assured and magnetic story of the Vignes sisters, light-skinned women parked on opposite sides of the color line. Desiree, the “fidgety twin,” and Stella, “a smart, careful girl,” make their break from stultifying rural Mallard, Louisiana, becoming 16-year-old runaways in 1954 New Orleans. The novel opens 14 years later as Desiree, fleeing a violent marriage in D.C., returns home with a different relative: her 8-year-old daughter, Jude. The gossips are agog: “In Mallard, nobody married dark....Marrying a dark man and dragging his blueblack child all over town was one step too far.” Desiree's decision seals Jude’s misery in this “colorstruck” place and propels a new generation of flight: Jude escapes on a track scholarship to UCLA. Tending bar as a side job in Beverly Hills, she catches a glimpse of her mother’s doppelgänger. Stella, ensconced in white society, is shedding her fur coat. Jude, so black that strangers routinely stare, is unrecognizable to her aunt. All this is expertly paced, unfurling before the book is half finished; a reader can guess what is coming. Bennett is deeply engaged in the unknowability of other people and the scourge of colorism. The scene in which Stella adopts her white persona is a tour de force of doubling and confusion. It calls up Toni Morrison’s The Bluest Eye, the book's 50-year-old antecedent. Bennett's novel plays with its characters' nagging feelings of being incomplete—for the twins without each other; for Jude’s boyfriend, Reese, who is trans and seeks surgery; for their friend Barry, who performs in drag as Bianca. Bennett keeps all these plot threads thrumming and her social commentary crisp. In the second half, Jude spars with her cousin Kennedy, Stella's daughter, a spoiled actress.

Kin “[find] each other’s lives inscrutable” in this rich, sharp story about the way identity is formed.

Pub Date: June 2, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-525-53629-1

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Riverhead

Review Posted Online: March 15, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2020

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A strict report, worthy of sympathy.

THE CATCHER IN THE RYE

A violent surfacing of adolescence (which has little in common with Tarkington's earlier, broadly comic, Seventeen) has a compulsive impact.

"Nobody big except me" is the dream world of Holden Caulfield and his first person story is down to the basic, drab English of the pre-collegiate. For Holden is now being bounced from fancy prep, and, after a vicious evening with hall- and roommates, heads for New York to try to keep his latest failure from his parents. He tries to have a wild evening (all he does is pay the check), is terrorized by the hotel elevator man and his on-call whore, has a date with a girl he likes—and hates, sees his 10 year old sister, Phoebe. He also visits a sympathetic English teacher after trying on a drunken session, and when he keeps his date with Phoebe, who turns up with her suitcase to join him on his flight, he heads home to a hospital siege. This is tender and true, and impossible, in its picture of the old hells of young boys, the lonesomeness and tentative attempts to be mature and secure, the awful block between youth and being grown-up, the fright and sickness that humans and their behavior cause the challenging, the dramatization of the big bang. It is a sorry little worm's view of the off-beat of adult pressure, of contemporary strictures and conformity, of sentiment….

A strict report, worthy of sympathy.

Pub Date: June 15, 1951

ISBN: 0316769177

Page Count: -

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Nov. 2, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1951

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