A cozy whodunit that cheerfully affirms girls’ and women’s contributions to aerospace.

READ REVIEW

THE AMELIA SIX

Six girls spend the night at Amelia Earhart’s childhood home and end up in the middle of a robbery.

When 11-year-old Amelia, nicknamed Millie, gets to the home of the eponymous aviator, she stumbles upon an incredible artifact: the goggles Earhart wore on her solo flight across the Atlantic. Not long afterward, however, the goggles go missing. Millie’s determination both to find them and to reach out to her absent pilot mother is endearing; even more so is the friendship that develops among Millie and the other five girls as they work to solve the mystery. Though shy, anxious Millie narrates, by the time she comes into her sarcastic own all six girls cohere into a charming ensemble cast. From Thea, the girl who builds and rides motorcycles with her auntie, to the generous turkey-truck driver who rescues Millie and her dad, the novel presents a suite of characters who, as Thea would say, “are like cake. [They] have layers.” Narrator Amelia notes skin color only for those characters with dark skin; others’ descriptions only go as far as hair color, evidently relying on the white default. Due honor is given to trailblazing Deaf pilot Nellie Zabel Willhite and black and Native pilot Bessie Coleman. An author’s note adds fascinating context on Earhart’s real story.

A cozy whodunit that cheerfully affirms girls’ and women’s contributions to aerospace. (reading list, author’s note, selected sources) (Mystery. 8-12)

Pub Date: June 2, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5344-1885-1

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Paula Wiseman/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: March 25, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2020

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Written in workhorse prose, it’s an amiable enough read.

ALI CROSS

The prolific king of the beach read is back with an intergenerational mystery for the 9-to-12-year-old set.

Ali Cross, the son of Patterson’s most famous creation, African American homicide detective Alex Cross, is “starting to think the worst might have happened” to his mixed-race friend Gabriel “Gabe” Qualls, who disappeared on Dec. 21 and hasn’t been heard from as of Christmas Eve, when the book opens. Ali offers an impromptu prayer for Gabe at the pre-holiday service at his all-black church as well as an impromptu press conference outside of it as journalists and paparazzi confront Alex about his alleged coma-inducing assault of a murder suspect’s father. Then someone robs the Crosses’ home that night along with four other homes; the Crosses’ Christmas gifts are stolen. Ali, obsessed with finding Gabe and feeling that these events will distract his dad and the police from searching for him, starts his own investigation—complete with looking at some contraband footage of Gabe’s unusually loaded backpack obtained by Ali’s stepmother, also a cop—and questioning his school and gaming pals, a diverse group. Writing in Ali’s voice with occasional cutaways to third-person chapters that follow Alex, Patterson sprinkles the narrative with pop-culture references even as he takes readers through the detective process.

Written in workhorse prose, it’s an amiable enough read. (Mystery. 9-12)

Pub Date: Nov. 25, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-316-53041-5

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Jimmy Patterson/Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: July 24, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2019

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  • SPONSORED PLACEMENT

This tightly packed, powerful fantasy contains resonant truths.

MAÑANALAND

A boy journeys to self-discovery through the power of stories and traditions.

Eleven-year-old Maximiliano Córdoba is ready for an idyllic summer. He plans to work hard as a builder for his father and train for fútbol tryouts. Plus, Max hopes dad will take him to visit the towering ruins of La Reina Gigante, a haunted hideout used in the past by the Guardians to hide refugees as they fled Abismo, a war-torn, neighboring dictatorship. However, when Max must provide his birth certificate to join the team, he feels his dream summer crumble away. The document disappeared years ago, along with his mother, the woman with whom Max shares “leche quemada” eyes. Soon, Papá leaves on a three-week journey to request a new one, and Max finds himself torn between two desires: to know the truth about why his mother left when he was a baby and to make the team. As Max discovers the enchanting stories his grandfather has been telling him for years have an actual foothold in reality, he must choose between his own dreams and those of others. Kirkus Prize winner Ryan (Echo, 2015) beautifully layers thought-provoking topics onto her narrative while keeping readers immersed in the story’s world. Although set in the fictional country of Santa Maria, “somewhere in the Américas,” the struggles of refugee immigrants and the compassion of those who protect the travelers feel very relevant.

This tightly packed, powerful fantasy contains resonant truths. (Fantasy. 7-14)

Pub Date: March 3, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-338-15786-4

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Nov. 24, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2019

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The whimsy is slight—the story is not—and both its interest and its vocabulary are for the youngest members of this age...

THE MOUSE AND THE MOTORCYCLE

Beverly Cleary has written all kinds of books (the most successful ones about the irrepressible Henry Huggins) but this is her first fantasy.

Actually it's plain clothes fantasy grounded in the everyday—except for the original conceit of a mouse who can talk and ride a motorcycle. A toy motorcycle, which belongs to Keith, a youngster, who comes to the hotel where Ralph lives with his family; Ralph and Keith become friends, Keith gives him a peanut butter sandwich, but finally Ralph loses the motorcycle—it goes out with the dirty linen. Both feel dreadfully; it was their favorite toy; but after Keith gets sick, and Ralph manages to find an aspirin for him in a nearby room, and the motorcycle is returned, it is left with Ralph....

The whimsy is slight—the story is not—and both its interest and its vocabulary are for the youngest members of this age group. (Fantasy. 8-12)

Pub Date: Sept. 22, 1965

ISBN: 0380709244

Page Count: 180

Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Oct. 16, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 1965

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