QUAKING

Matt (short for Matilda and not Mattie, thank you) is a teenager whose experiences in the foster system have made her ruefully cynical and bitter. When she comes to live with Sam and Jessica, Matt is puzzled by their commitment to peace—both in their personal lives and in their advocacy against the war in the Middle East. Intrigued, she begins to accompany them to First Day Meetings and learns about the Quaker religion. Matt finds unexpected peace in the silence of Meeting, and begins to practice peace by standing up to a comically belligerent, fiercely pro-war social-studies teacher and a run-of-the-mill school-bus bully, both of whom have their own issues. While the message sometimes seems right on the surface, the setting is unusual and the characters play their roles in ways that readers will understand. As one of the first, if not the first anti-war novel for this generation, Erskine’s story will surely open some minds to the idea that peace is nothing to be ashamed of. A good discussion starter on several levels. (Fiction. 11-14)

Pub Date: June 21, 2007

ISBN: 978-0-399-24774-3

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Philomel

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2007

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WHAT THE MOON SAW

When Clara Luna, 14, visits rural Mexico for the summer to visit the paternal grandparents she has never met, she cannot know her trip will involve an emotional and spiritual journey into her family’s past and a deep connection to a rich heritage of which she was barely aware. Long estranged from his parents, Clara’s father had entered the U.S. illegally years before, subsequently becoming a successful business owner who never spoke about what he left behind. Clara’s journey into her grandmother’s history (told in alternating chapters with Clara’s own first-person narrative) and her discovery that she, like her grandmother and ancestors, has a gift for healing, awakens her to the simple, mystical joys of a rural lifestyle she comes to love and wholly embrace. Painfully aware of not fitting into suburban teen life in her native Maryland, Clara awakens to feeling alive in Mexico and realizes a sweet first love with Pedro, a charming goat herder. Beautifully written, this is filled with evocative language that is rich in imagery and nuance and speaks to the connections that bind us all. Add a thrilling adventure and all the makings of an entrancing read are here. (glossaries) (Fiction. 12-14)

Pub Date: Sept. 12, 2006

ISBN: 0-385-73343-7

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2006

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FABLEHAVEN

Witty repartee between the central characters, as well as the occasional well-done set piece, isn’t enough to hold this hefty debut together. Teenagers Seth and Kendra are dropped off by traveling parents at their grandfather’s isolated Connecticut estate, and soon discover why he’s so reluctant to have them—the place is a secret haven for magical creatures, both benign and decidedly otherwise. Those others are held in check by a complicated, unwritten and conveniently malleable Compact that is broken on Midsummer Eve, leaving everyone except Kendra captive in a hidden underground chamber with a newly released demon. Mull’s repeated use of the same device to prod the plot along comes off as more labored than comic: Over and over an adult issues a stern but vague warning; Seth ignores it; does some mischief and is sorry afterward. Sometimes Kendra joins in trying to head off her uncommonly dense brother. She comes into her own at the rousing climax, but that takes a long time to arrive; stick with Michael Buckley’s “Sisters Grimm” tales, which carry a similar premise in more amazing and amusing directions. (Fantasy. 11-13)

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 2006

ISBN: 1-59038-581-0

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Shadow Mountain

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2006

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