A suspenseful little mystery with heart.

AUDACITY JONES STEALS THE SHOW

From the Audacity Jones series , Vol. 2

Audacity Jones returns for her next adventure, this time helping Harry Houdini in his quest to make an elephant disappear.

Making an elephant vanish turns out to have a double meaning. When the white girl and her brown-skinned friend, Bimmy, leave for New York, Min, her supremely confident cat, finds a way to follow and meets Punk, a sad, imprisoned baby elephant. In addition to helping Houdini, Min and Audacity try to rescue Punk from abusive captivity. Houdini, rather oddly for a professional magician, has not perfected his trick before running advertisements for it. Much of the book’s suspense, however, depends on that negligence. Although the first book in the series took place in 1910, Larson here fudges the historical timeline, as she explains in her author’s note. (Harry Houdini indeed performed a trick in which he made an elephant disappear, and young Archibald Leach, later the movie star Cary Grant, did perform in New York City, but much later.) Historical liberties don’t stop Audacity and her troupe—especially Min—from engaging in an enjoyable adventure while still evoking the 1910s. Larson focuses most of her story on the Houdini plotline, but the Punk plotline, which tugs at readers’ hearts, becomes the more memorable of the two. The author also promises to devote some of her royalties to The Elephant Sanctuary in Tennessee.

A suspenseful little mystery with heart. (Historical fiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: Jan. 31, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-5458-4065-1

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Nov. 16, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2016

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Classic action-packed, monster-fighting fun

THE LAST KIDS ON EARTH

From the Last Kids on Earth series , Vol. 1

It’s been 42 days since the Monster Apocalypse began, and 13-year-old Jack Sullivan, a self-proclaimed “zombie-fighting, monster-slaying tornado of cool” is on a quest to find and rescue his not-so-secret crush, June Del Toro, whether she needs it, wants it, or not.

Jack cobbles together an unlikely but endearing crew, including his scientist best friend, Quint Baker; Dirk Savage, Parker Middle School’s biggest bully; and a pet monster named Rover, to help him save the damsel in distress and complete the “ULTIMATE Feat of Apocalyptic Success.” Middle-grade readers, particularly boys, will find Jack’s pitch-perfect mix of humor, bravado, and self-professed geekiness impossible to resist. His sidekicks are equally entertaining, and it doesn’t hurt that there are also plenty of oozing, drooling, sharp-toothed monsters and zombies and a host of gizmos and gadgets to hook readers and keep them cheering with every turn of the page. Holgate’s illustrations play an integral role in the novel’s success. They not only bring Brallier’s characters to life, but also add depth and detail to the story, making plain just exactly how big Rover is and giving the lie to Jack’s “killer driving.” The marriage of text and illustration serves as a perfect example of what an illustrated novel can and should be.

Classic action-packed, monster-fighting fun (. (Graphic/horror hybrid. 8-12)

Pub Date: Oct. 13, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-670-01661-7

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: July 22, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2015

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

NUMBER THE STARS

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

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