Will feel relatable to many tweens, especially thoughtful readers in blended families and those struggling with anxiety.


New family dynamics and unwelcome changes confront rising seventh grader Ava as she navigates her first time meeting her father’s new girlfriend.

Ava, an Iowa native and lover of hot fudge sundaes, secretly hopes her dad will have a minor accident, something just bad enough that they’ll have to cancel their trip to meet Jenn, the woman he’s dating. Ava’s mom died shortly after giving birth to her, and it’s been just her and her dad ever since. According to her new therapist, who diagnosed her with an anxiety disorder, Ava struggles with change, needing time to adjust to transitions. Even before leaving rural Iowa for their vacation, she finds herself awash in new, Colorado-related fears, such as catching the plague from ground squirrels or suffering a road rage accident in urban Denver. Meeting Z, Jenn’s 12-year-old daughter who seems to delight in triggering Ava’s fears, isn’t exactly a highlight—but the most terrifying news is that her father has rented a mountain cabin. This character-driven novel proceeds at a measured pace, exploring themes around family dynamics, self-acceptance, and making your voice heard. The author doesn’t tie everything up in a neat bow in the end but instead shows the complications of life, messy but loving families and all. Most characters read as White; Rodrigo, Z’s father, is cued as Latinx.

Will feel relatable to many tweens, especially thoughtful readers in blended families and those struggling with anxiety. (Fiction. 9-12)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-8075-1421-4

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Whitman

Review Posted Online: June 8, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2022

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet


There’s a monster in Sidwell, Massachusetts, that can only be seen at night or, as Twig reveals, if passersby are near her house.

It’s her older brother, James, born with wings just like every male in the Fowler line for the last 200 years. They were cursed by the Witch of Sidwell, left brokenhearted by their forebear Lowell Fowler. Twig and James are tired of the secret and self-imposed isolation. Lonely Twig narrates, bringing the small town and its characters to life, intertwining events present and past, and describing the effects of the spell on her fractured family’s daily life. Longing for some normalcy and companionship, she befriends new-neighbor Julia while James falls in love with Julia’s sister, Agate—only to learn they are descendants of the Witch. James and Agate seem as star-crossed as their ancestors, especially when the townspeople attribute a spate of petty thefts and graffiti protesting the development of the woods to the monster and launch a hunt. The mix of romance and magic is irresistible and the tension, compelling. With the help of friends and through a series of self-realizations and discoveries, Twig grows more self-assured. She is certain she knows how to change the curse. In so doing, Twig not only changes James’ fate, but her own, for the first time feeling the fullness of family, friends and hope for the future.

Enchanting. (Magical realism. 9-12)

Pub Date: March 10, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-385-38958-7

Page Count: 208

Publisher: Wendy Lamb/Random

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2015

Did you like this book?

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


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

Did you like this book?