The complex, layered plot pulls no punches.

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DAYS OF THE DEAD

A blended family learns to cope and have compassion for each other.

Mexican-American Glorieta Magdalena Davis Espinosa takes her obligations to her family very seriously. Her mother’s family, the Espinosas, has lived in the same house for 400 years, and her aunts are the matriarchs of the town of Puerto de la Luna, which was swallowed up by Epoch, New Mexico, when it became a part of the United States but kept much of its magic and Mexicanness. But no magic can soothe Glorieta’s grief over losing her mother to suicide years ago. Her great-aunt, la Doña Diosonita, forbade a burial in consecrated ground because they believed her death to be a mortal sin, and since her father remarried six weeks ago, her mother’s ashes have been socked away in a drawer. Glorieta has about a month before Día de los Muertos, and she wants to use that time to convince her aunt that her mother deserves to be honored and not forgotten. But she also has to deal with a cruel new stepsister, an out-of-work father, and political disagreements among neighbors, some of whom call the town’s many undocumented immigrants “aliens” and others who say “refugees.” Although the plot grows too busy at times, the combination of magical realism, syncretism, and Catholicism is thoughtful and realistic, not preachy, and is accessible to believers and nonbelievers alike. Perhaps most important, Glorieta’s desperation is affecting and wrenching.

The complex, layered plot pulls no punches. (Fiction. 10-14)

Pub Date: Sept. 4, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5107-2858-5

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Sky Pony Press

Review Posted Online: July 30, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2018

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A sly, side-splitting hoot from start to finish.

THE MECHANICAL MIND OF JOHN COGGIN

The dreary prospect of spending a lifetime making caskets instead of wonderful inventions prompts a young orphan to snatch up his little sister and flee. Where? To the circus, of course.

Fortunately or otherwise, John and 6-year-old Page join up with Boz—sometime human cannonball for the seedy Wandering Wayfarers and a “vertically challenged” trickster with a fantastic gift for sowing chaos. Alas, the budding engineer barely has time to settle in to begin work on an experimental circus wagon powered by chicken poop and dubbed (with questionable forethought) the Autopsy. The hot pursuit of malign and indomitable Great-Aunt Beauregard, the Coggins’ only living relative, forces all three to leave the troupe for further flights and misadventures. Teele spins her adventure around a sturdy protagonist whose love for his little sister is matched only by his fierce desire for something better in life for them both and tucks in an outstanding supporting cast featuring several notably strong-minded, independent women (Page, whose glare “would kill spiders dead,” not least among them). Better yet, in Boz she has created a scene-stealing force of nature, a free spirit who’s never happier than when he’s stirring up mischief. A climactic clutch culminating in a magnificently destructive display of fireworks leaves the Coggin sibs well-positioned for bright futures. (Illustrations not seen.)

A sly, side-splitting hoot from start to finish. (Adventure. 11-13)

Pub Date: April 12, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-06-234510-3

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Walden Pond Press/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2016

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Touching, riotously funny, and absolutely stunning.

ARU SHAH AND THE TREE OF WISHES

From the Pandava Quintet series , Vol. 3

In the third instalment of the Pandava Quartet, 14-year-old Arundhati “Aru” Shah and her companions need to defeat their archnemesis (and Aru’s father), the Sleeper, and prevent the impending war between the devas and asuras.

The novel opens with Aru and her friends on a mission to rescue two people from the Sleeper’s soldiers. The two people are 10-year-old identical twins and Pandavas Nikita and Sheela, trapped atop a Ferris wheel in downtown Atlanta. This mission is of utmost importance because Sheela is a clairvoyant with an important prophecy, which speaks of the rise of the Sleeper and an untrue Pandava sister—and which the Sleeper must not hear at any cost. Despite their best efforts, however, one of the Sleeper’s soldiers overhears the prophecy, and Aru, Mini, Brynne, and Adin—accompanied by Rudy, a serpent prince—set off to find the missing Kalpavriksha, a wish-granting tree, so that they might wish upon it to set things right. Much like its predecessors, this fast-moving adventure draws on Hindu cosmology and South Asian pop-culture references to create an enchanting but believable magical Otherworld, where gods, demigods, demons, and talking animals abound. Chokshi’s novel is pitch perfect: The plot is action-packed, the dialogue witty, and the characters (almost all of whom are either Indian or part-Indian) are compelling, diverse, and complex.

Touching, riotously funny, and absolutely stunning. (Fantasy. 10-14)

Pub Date: April 7, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-368-01385-7

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Rick Riordan Presents/Disney

Review Posted Online: April 4, 2020

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