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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A sympathetic, compelling introduction to wolves from the perspective of one wolf and his memorable journey.

A WOLF CALLED WANDER

Separated from his pack, Swift, a young wolf, embarks on a perilous search for a new home.

Swift’s mother impresses on him early that his “pack belongs to the mountains and the mountains belong to the pack.” His father teaches him to hunt elk, avoid skunks and porcupines, revere the life that gives them life, and “carry on” when their pack is devastated in an attack by enemy wolves. Alone and grieving, Swift reluctantly leaves his mountain home. Crossing into unfamiliar territory, he’s injured and nearly dies, but the need to run, hunt, and live drives him on. Following a routine of “walk-trot-eat-rest,” Swift traverses prairies, canyons, and deserts, encountering men with rifles, hunger, thirst, highways, wild horses, a cougar, and a forest fire. Never imagining the “world could be so big or that I could be so alone in it,” Swift renames himself Wander as he reaches new mountains and finds a new home. Rife with details of the myriad scents, sounds, tastes, touches, and sights in Swift/Wander’s primal existence, the immediacy of his intimate, first-person, present-tense narration proves deeply moving, especially his longing for companionship. Realistic black-and-white illustrations trace key events in this unique survival story, and extensive backmatter fills in further factual information about wolves and their habitat.

A sympathetic, compelling introduction to wolves from the perspective of one wolf and his memorable journey. (additional resources, map) (Fiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: May 7, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-06-289593-6

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Greenwillow Books

Review Posted Online: Feb. 6, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2019

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Japanese-American Aki and her family operate an asparagus farm in Westminster, Calif., until they are summarily uprooted and...

SYLVIA & AKI

Two third-grade girls in California suffer the dehumanizing effects of racial segregation after the Japanese attack Pearl Harbor in 1942 in this moving story based on true events in the lives of Sylvia Mendez and Aki Munemitsu.

Japanese-American Aki and her family operate an asparagus farm in Westminster, Calif., until they are summarily uprooted and dispatched to an internment camp in Poston, Ariz., for the duration of World War II. As Aki endures the humiliation and deprivation of the hot, cramped barracks, she wonders if there’s “something wrong with being Japanese.” Sylvia’s Mexican-American family leases the Munemitsu farm. She expects to attend the local school but faces disappointment when authorities assign her to a separate, second-rate school for Mexican kids. In response, Sylvia’s father brings a legal action against the school district arguing against segregation in what eventually becomes a successful landmark case. Their lives intersect after Sylvia finds Aki’s doll, meets her in Poston and sends her letters. Working with material from interviews, Conkling alternates between Aki and Sylvia’s stories, telling them in the third person from the war’s start in 1942 through its end in 1945, with an epilogue updating Sylvia’s story to 1955.

Pub Date: July 12, 2011

ISBN: 978-1-58246-337-7

Page Count: 160

Publisher: Tricycle

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2011

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