Hannigan’s lively tale celebrates family and friendship.

CUPCAKE COUSINS

Culinary mishaps ensue when 9-year-old cousins Willow and Delia conspire to avoid being flower girls in their aunt’s wedding.

Willow and Delia are adamantly opposed to their roles as flower girls at their aunt Rosie’s wedding. During their annual summer visit to Saugatuck, on the Lake Michigan shore, the pair devises a plan to foil their impending flower-girl debuts. In hopes of replacing their flower-girl status with catering duty, Willow and Delia decide to spend the week preceding the wedding showing off their culinary expertise. However, the girls soon discover that Mr. Henry, the owner of their vacation house, has hired a new chef and caterer. Undaunted, the girls persevere. The duo’s schemes are disrupted by comical kitchen catastrophes, the antics of Willow’s 5-year-old brother and their family dog, as well as the mysterious behavior of Mr. Henry. Hannigan deftly portrays the angst Willow struggles with as she approaches the early-preteen years. With keen insight, she also explores Delia’s worries about her father’s job loss and concerns about her parents’ marriage. After the girls learn that the new chef has also suffered a recent job loss, their determined efforts to help her in a crisis establish a newfound maturity. Hughes’ cheery black-and-white illustrations capture the cousins’ exuberance, highlighting both misadventures and sentimental moments. Recipes featuring various foods from the story are included.

Hannigan’s lively tale celebrates family and friendship. (Fiction. 9-12)

Pub Date: May 13, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4231-7830-9

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion

Review Posted Online: March 31, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2014

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Charming, poignant, and thoughtfully woven.

CLUES TO THE UNIVERSE

An aspiring scientist and a budding artist become friends and help each other with dream projects.

Unfolding in mid-1980s Sacramento, California, this story stars 12-year-olds Rosalind and Benjamin as first-person narrators in alternating chapters. Ro’s father, a fellow space buff, was killed by a drunk driver; the rocket they were working on together lies unfinished in her closet. As for Benji, not only has his best friend, Amir, moved away, but the comic book holding the clue for locating his dad is also missing. Along with their profound personal losses, the protagonists share a fixation with the universe’s intriguing potential: Ro decides to complete the rocket and hopes to launch mementos of her father into outer space while Benji’s conviction that aliens and UFOs are real compels his imagination and creativity as an artist. An accident in science class triggers a chain of events forcing Benji and Ro, who is new to the school, to interact and unintentionally learn each other’s secrets. They resolve to find Benji’s dad—a famous comic-book artist—and partner to finish Ro’s rocket for the science fair. Together, they overcome technical, scheduling, and geographical challenges. Readers will be drawn in by amusing and fantastical elements in the comic book theme, high emotional stakes that arouse sympathy, and well-drawn character development as the protagonists navigate life lessons around grief, patience, self-advocacy, and standing up for others. Ro is biracial (Chinese/White); Benji is White.

Charming, poignant, and thoughtfully woven. (Fiction. 9-12)

Pub Date: Jan. 12, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-06-300888-5

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Quill Tree Books/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Oct. 27, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2020

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A deftly told story that dramatizes how Danes appointed themselves bodyguards—not only for their king, who was in the habit...

NUMBER THE STARS

The author of the Anastasia books as well as more serious fiction (Rabble Starkey, 1987) offers her first historical fiction—a story about the escape of the Jews from Denmark in 1943.

Five years younger than Lisa in Carol Matas' Lisa's War (1989), Annemarie Johansen has, at 10, known three years of Nazi occupation. Though ever cautious and fearful of the ubiquitous soldiers, she is largely unaware of the extent of the danger around her; the Resistance kept even its participants safer by telling them as little as possible, and Annemarie has never been told that her older sister Lise died in its service. When the Germans plan to round up the Jews, the Johansens take in Annemarie's friend, Ellen Rosen, and pretend she is their daughter; later, they travel to Uncle Hendrik's house on the coast, where the Rosens and other Jews are transported by fishing boat to Sweden. Apart from Lise's offstage death, there is little violence here; like Annemarie, the reader is protected from the full implications of events—but will be caught up in the suspense and menace of several encounters with soldiers and in Annemarie's courageous run as courier on the night of the escape. The book concludes with the Jews' return, after the war, to homes well kept for them by their neighbors.

A deftly told story that dramatizes how Danes appointed themselves bodyguards—not only for their king, who was in the habit of riding alone in Copenhagen, but for their Jews. (Historical fiction. 9-12)

Pub Date: April 1, 1989

ISBN: 0547577095

Page Count: 156

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin

Review Posted Online: Oct. 17, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 1989

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