BRONTE’S BOOK CLUB

Having moved from New Mexico to a seaside California cottage, 12-year-old Bronte embarks on a new venture—overcoming her shyness with new friends. An avid reader and lover of sophisticated words like “delectable” and “palaver,” Bronte decides to start a book club posting an open invitation to “Girls Who Like to Read!!” Her first meeting, “a veritable disaster,” brings no one to her door. By her second and third attempt, beautiful Willow, free-spirited Nan, Willow’s best friend Lupe and sullen, troubled Jessie have joined. Tentatively encouraged, Bronte chooses Island of the Blue Dolphins for their weekly meetings. Gregory’s use of a book-club scenario serves well as a vehicle for the girls to explore personal situations through connections made with the book’s themes, actions, and protagonist. Her subtle message that an atmosphere of trust and understanding enhances friendship is presented effectively through the initial bonding between Nan and Bronte, a rift between Bronte, Willow and Lupe and the girls’ genuine concern for Jessie. A spelunking expedition adds adventure and suspense to this poignantly wholesome offering. (Fiction. 10-12)

Pub Date: May 1, 2008

ISBN: 978-0-8234-2136-7

Page Count: 160

Publisher: Holiday House

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2008

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Wholesome shading to bland, but well-stocked with exotic creatures and locales, plus an agreeable cast headed by a child...

KEEPER OF THE LOST CITIES

From the Keeper of the Lost Cities series , Vol. 1

A San Diego preteen learns that she’s an elf, with a place in magic school if she moves to the elves’ hidden realm.

Having felt like an outsider since a knock on the head at age 5 left her able to read minds, Sophie is thrilled when hunky teen stranger Fitz convinces her that she’s not human at all and transports her to the land of Lumenaria, where the ageless elves live. Taken in by a loving couple who run a sanctuary for extinct and mythical animals, Sophie quickly gathers friends and rivals at Foxfire, a distinctly Hogwarts-style school. She also uncovers both clues to her mysterious origins and hints that a rash of strangely hard-to-quench wildfires back on Earth are signs of some dark scheme at work. Though Messenger introduces several characters with inner conflicts and ambiguous agendas, Sophie herself is more simply drawn as a smart, radiant newcomer who unwillingly becomes the center of attention while developing what turn out to be uncommonly powerful magical abilities—reminiscent of the younger Harry Potter, though lacking that streak of mischievousness that rescues Harry from seeming a little too perfect. The author puts her through a kidnapping and several close brushes with death before leaving her poised, amid hints of a higher destiny and still-anonymous enemies, for sequels.

Wholesome shading to bland, but well-stocked with exotic creatures and locales, plus an agreeable cast headed by a child who, while overly fond of screaming, rises to every challenge. (Fantasy. 10-12)

Pub Date: Oct. 2, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-4424-4593-2

Page Count: 496

Publisher: Aladdin

Review Posted Online: July 18, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2012

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A didactic blueprint disguised as a supernatural treasure map.

GHOST GIRL

A girl who delights in the macabre harnesses her inherited supernatural ability.

It’s not just her stark white hair that makes 11-year-old Zee Puckett stand out in nowheresville Knobb’s Ferry. She’s a storyteller, a Mary Shelley fangirl, and is being raised by her 21-year-old high school dropout sister while their father looks for work upstate (cue the wayward glances from the affluent demography). Don’t pity her, because Zee doesn’t acquiesce to snobbery, bullying, or pretty much anything that confronts her. But a dog with bleeding eyes in a cemetery gives her pause—momentarily—because the beast is just the tip of the wicked that has this way come to town. Time to get some help from ghosts. The creepy supernatural current continues throughout, intermingled with very real forays into bullying (Zee won’t stand for it or for the notion that good girls need to act nice), body positivity, socio-economic status and social hierarchy, and mental health. This debut from a promising writer involves a navigation of caste systems, self-esteem, and villainy that exists in an interesting world with intriguing characters, but they receive a flat, two-dimensional treatment that ultimately makes the book feel like one is learning a ho-hum lesson in morality. Zee is presumably White (as is her rich-girl nemesis–cum-comrade, Nellie). Her best friend, Elijah, is cued as Black. Warning: this just might spur frenzied requests for Frankenstein.

A didactic blueprint disguised as a supernatural treasure map. (Supernatural. 10-12)

Pub Date: Aug. 10, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-06-304460-9

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Katherine Tegen/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: June 11, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2021

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