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An enticing read that is certain to keep both the hero and audience guessing at every carefully plotted reveal. (Fantasy....

A truly splendid amalgamation of mystery, magic and creeping horror will spellbind the middle-grade set.

Jack has lived much of his life feeling invisible, beneath the notice of bullies, friends or even his family. Yet when his parents divorce and he’s sent to live with his aunt and uncle in Hazelwood, Iowa, Jack is shocked to discover that everyone in the town notices him. What’s more, some of them seem to want to kill him. As he befriends some of the local kids, Jack reluctantly looks into the town’s past and unravels the mystery behind why children have been disappearing there for decades and what his connection may be. This children's debut beautifully evokes the feeling of otherness kids come to feel around their peers and at the same time creates an entirely original mythology. The mystery deepens with each chapter, revealing exactly the right amount with each step. Answers are doled out so meticulously that readers will be continually intrigued rather than frustrated. The result is the ultimate page-turner.

An enticing read that is certain to keep both the hero and audience guessing at every carefully plotted reveal. (Fantasy. 9-12)

Pub Date: Aug. 2, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-316-05670-0

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: June 6, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2011

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Ultimately, Burg’s lyrical prose will make readers think about the common ground among peoples, despite inevitable...

Melding the colors of heartache and loss with painterly strokes, Burg creates a vivid work of art about a girl grieving for her recently deceased mother against a Third World backdrop.

Clare is not speaking to her father. She has vowed never to speak to him again. Which could be tough, since the pair just touched down in Malawi. There, Clare finds herself struck by the contrast between American wealth and the relatively bare-bones existence of her new friends. Drowning in mourning and enraged at the emptiness of grief, Clare is a hurricane of early-adolescent emotions. Her anger toward her father crackles like lightning in the treetops. She finds purpose, though, in teaching English to the younger children, which leads her out of grief. Burg’s imagery shimmers. “The girl talks to her mother in a language that sounds like fireworks, full of bursts and pops. She holds her hand over her mouth giggling.... She probably has so many minutes with her mother, she can’t even count them.” Her realization of the setting and appreciation for the Malawian people are so successful that they compensate for Clare's wallowing, which sometimes feels contrived.

Ultimately, Burg’s lyrical prose will make readers think about the common ground among peoples, despite inevitable disparities. (Fiction. 9-12)

Pub Date: June 12, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-385-73471-4

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: March 20, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2012

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Whether it’s because she would rather write stories alone than hang out with her gossiping classmates or because she lives in the Visconti House, a crumbling Italianate villa (which, everyone assumes, must be haunted), Year 8 Aussie Laura Horton always feels like an outsider. When Leon Murphy, a loner in his own right, moves in with his odd grandmother, Laura notices that they have more in common than she originally thought, including wanting to solve the mystery behind Mr. Visconti, his once-ornate house and the woman he loved. Debut author Edgar’s quiet, old-fashioned storytelling, in which the children can sound older than their years, celebrates curiosity, hidden treasures and impromptu gatherings with spirited and creative family members. In the process of ferreting out the secrets of Mr. Visconti and his formerly splendid estate (with written letters, interviews and intuition rather than the Internet), Laura also discovers friendship, romance and accepting the differences in herself and others. Fans of Blue Balliett and Elise Broach’s Shakespeare’s Secret (2005) will enjoy another puzzle to solve. (author’s note) (Mystery. 9-12)

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-7636-5019-3

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: Dec. 29, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2011

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