A well-intentioned premise with a few potentially thought-provoking puzzles thrown in for good measure.

READ REVIEW

THE MULTIPLYING MYSTERIES OF MOUNT TEN

When bad weather and a wrong turn accidentally send an art-loving 12-year-old girl to Camp Archimedes, a math camp, instead of her intended destination, Camp Vermeer, things get a bit weird.

Once fate brings Esther Lambert to a brainy camp where she feels like “an alien from the planet Creativity,” she finds herself unwittingly drawn in by compelling algebraic puzzles and logic challenges. Being the first to solve the inaugural brainteaser of the summer with an original solution gives her confidence. But then mysterious notes, camp history, and a spooky legend about the man who gave the land to the camp collide to lead her on a wacky hunt for what appears to be a serial murderer. Eventually her transition to newly minted math nerd is complete. Esther herself is solid and earnest, the math aspect is engaging, and the exuberant energy of the story is contagious. However, the pacing feels uneven, character development is limited, and it’s not always clear where and why the plotline goes where it does or what is at stake. The effort to encourage girls to transition from single-minded focus on the arts to also believing in their math abilities feels sincere if a bit heavy-handed. Esther is depicted as white on the cover, and diversity among secondary characters is indicated through naming convention and description.

A well-intentioned premise with a few potentially thought-provoking puzzles thrown in for good measure. (Mystery. 8-12)

Pub Date: April 9, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-68119-770-8

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Review Posted Online: Jan. 15, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2019

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

A deceptively simple, tender tale in which respect, resilience, and hope triumph.

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

Google Rating

  • google rating
  • google rating
  • google rating
  • google rating
  • google rating
  • New York Times Bestseller

WISHTREE

Generations of human and animal families grow and change, seen from the point of view of the red oak Wishing Tree that shelters them all.

Most trees are introverts at heart. So says Red, who is over 200 years old and should know. Not to mention that they have complicated relationships with humans. But this tree also has perspective on its animal friends and people who live within its purview—not just witnessing, but ultimately telling the tales of young people coming to this country alone or with family. An Irish woman named Maeve is the first, and a young 10-year-old Muslim girl named Samar is the most recent. Red becomes the repository for generations of wishes; this includes both observing Samar’s longing wish and sporting the hurtful word that another young person carves into their bark as a protest to Samar’s family’s presence. (Red is monoecious, they explain, with both male and female flowers.) Newbery medalist Applegate succeeds at interweaving an immigrant story with an animated natural world and having it all make sense. As Red observes, animals compete for resources just as humans do, and nature is not always pretty or fair or kind. This swiftly moving yet contemplative read is great for early middle grade, reluctant or tentative readers, or precocious younger students.

A deceptively simple, tender tale in which respect, resilience, and hope triumph. (Fantasy. 8-12)

Pub Date: Sept. 26, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-250-04322-1

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Feiwel & Friends

Review Posted Online: Aug. 2, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2017

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

It's a deftly worked resolution, inspirational message and all.

IN THE YEAR OF THE BOAR AND JACKIE ROBINSON

A young Chinese arrival, self-named Shirley Temple Wong, finds a secure, bicultural niche in 1945-46 Brooklyn—as, it's suggested, did Chinese American novelist Lord (Spring Moon).

The opening passages, meant to evoke a traditional Chinese household, have a slightly artificial, storybook quality; but once Lord gets Shirley to the Brooklyn neighborhood of look-alike houses, and into P.S. 8 where not two children look alike, this becomes an endearing, warming account of immigrant woes and joys. Her first afternoon, after Father has shown her around, Shirley insists on going to fetch cigarettes—"Rukee Sike"; she proudly procures them, from a substitute store ("Nothing to it at all"), then loses her way back ("What a fool she was!")—but Father and his guests, finding her, still march her home triumphant. She is put into the fifth grade, not only knowing no English, but actually a year ahead of herself (asked her age, she held up ten fingers—because a Chinese child is one year old at birth); in response to a wink, she takes to blinking (a tic, wonders the teacher); introduced, she bows. And, from her general differentness, she's soon ignored, friendless; a failure, too, as "China's little ambassador" of her mother's imagining. (In a poignant bit, P.S. 8's second "Chinese" student proves to be from Chattanooga, and not to speak Chinese.) The turnaround starts with two black eyes from Mabel, "the tallest and the strongest and the scariest girl in all the fifth grade." Shirley doesn't tattle; Mabel befriends her—picking her for stickball, coaching her; and, from an inadvertent resemblance to Jackie Robinson (" 'Cause she's pigeontoed and stole home"), she develops a passion for the Dodgers and an identification with Robinson ("making a better America," proclaims her teacher) that climaxes when she presents him with the keys to P.S. 8. But in a nice parallel with a Chinese tale, this identification also allows Shirley to wear "two gowns," and to imagine her Chinese relatives clapping along with the P.S. 8 audience.

It's a deftly worked resolution, inspirational message and all.

Pub Date: Sept. 5, 1984

ISBN: 978-0-06-440175-3

Page Count: 180

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Aug. 11, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 1984

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet
more