For children and their bird-watching parents, who will appreciate the clever premise and the message of admiration.

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AVIARY WONDERS INC.

SPRING CATALOG AND INSTRUCTION MANUAL

A catalog of bird parts and instructions for making your own in a sadly possible future in which living birds have nearly disappeared.

Feathers, beaks, legs and feet, bodies, tails and even flight styles can be ordered from this enterprising company, whose motto is “Renewing the World’s Bird Supply Since 2031.” Written and illustrated (in oil, ink, graphite and colored pencil) in the style of traditional mail-order inventories, this weaves in a surprising amount of genuine bird information while displaying the variety of interchangeable parts. Body and wing shapes fit different purposes. Legs and feet are adjusted for habitat, and beaks must match potential food. There are decorative streamers, collars and crests. The illustrations reflect actual birds; in spite of decorative coloration, beaks and wings are recognizable as identified. If a model is based on a bird now critically endangered or extinct (such as the slender-billed curlew, great auk and passenger pigeon), the label points it out. The author also enumerates actual bird threats: insecticides, habitat loss, the exotic pet trade and cats. Finally, careful instructions for assembly and training are included. Don’t teach your bird a song you don’t want to hear over and over!

For children and their bird-watching parents, who will appreciate the clever premise and the message of admiration. (Picture book. 10 & up)

Pub Date: March 4, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-547-97899-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Clarion

Review Posted Online: Jan. 4, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2014

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Another solid adventure that doesn’t reinvent the wheel but spins it quite well.

SPY SCHOOL GOES SOUTH

From the Spy School series , Vol. 6

The spy kids return for another Spy School adventure.

By now, the students at the CIA’s Academy of Espionage have had multiple exciting encounters with the villainous organization that calls itself SPYDER. The CIA is keen to take advantage of an offer made to them by disgraced ex-spy Murray Hill, a captured SPYDER teen agent. Narrator and agent Ben Ripley, 13, and his partner, Erica Hale, 15, are the only agents Murray will lead to SPYDER’s secret headquarters, so the duo reluctantly follows the traitor’s lead while their fellow students Mike Brezinski and Zoe Zibbell stow away. Things go south quickly, and soon the group is stuck in a strange land with no backup. At this point in the series fans know what they’re getting, and Gibbs doesn’t disappoint. The dialogue crackles, the schemes are clever, and the plotting is tight and efficient. Gibbs doesn’t divulge any of the character’s ethnicities, leaving room for interpretation in a key moment that is gracefully organic to the narrative. The book’s finale leaves room for more adventures, and fans’ interest in the series will be just as rabid after this fast-paced, good-humored entry.

Another solid adventure that doesn’t reinvent the wheel but spins it quite well. (Adventure. 10-14)

Pub Date: Oct. 2, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-4814-7785-7

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: July 16, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2018

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Middle school worries and social issues skillfully woven into a moving, hopeful, STEM-related tale.

THE EXACT LOCATION OF HOME

Following the precise coordinates of geocaching doesn’t yield the treasure Kirby Zagonski Jr. seeks: his missing father.

Geeky eighth-grader Kirby can’t understand why his mother won’t call his dad after their generous landlady dies and they’re evicted for nonpayment of rent. Though his parents have been divorced for several years and his father, a wealthy developer, has been unreliable, Kirby is sure he could help. Instead he and his mother move to the Community Hospitality Center, a place “for the poor. The unfortunate. The homeless.” Suddenly A-student Kirby doesn’t have a quiet place to do his schoolwork or even a working pencil. They share a “family room” with a mother and young son fleeing abuse. Trying to hide this from his best friends, Gianna and Ruby, is a struggle, especially as they spend after-school hours together. The girls help him look for the geocaches visited by “Senior Searcher,” a geocacher Kirby is sure is his father. There are ordinary eighth-grade complications in this contemporary friendship tale, too; Gianna just might be a girlfriend, and there’s a dance coming up. Kirby’s first-person voice is authentic, his friends believable, and the adults both sometimes helpful and sometimes unthinkingly cruel. The setting is the largely white state of Vermont, but the circumstances could be anywhere.

Middle school worries and social issues skillfully woven into a moving, hopeful, STEM-related tale. (Fiction. 10-14)

Pub Date: Sept. 12, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-68119-548-3

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Review Posted Online: Aug. 7, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2017

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