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An important story about anxiety, change, and courage.

Her father’s new job in Vienna, Austria, forces a 12-year-old American girl out of her comfort zone.

It’s 1993, and Becca lives in northern Virginia, dividing her time between her divorced parents. When she learns her father will be moving to Vienna for work and she will be spending two months with him over summer vacation, Becca, who suffers from anxiety and panic attacks, must face her fears. Traveling to Europe is just the beginning, as she is anxious about passing through the metal detector she believes causes cancer and developing blood clots on the long flight. But with a little help—her mom is flying with her, and she has her Doomsday Journal, where she writes down everything that weighs on her mind—she does it. In Austria, Becca meets Sara Tahirović, the 19-year-old Bosnian Muslim au pair from Sarajevo who will be looking after her and Felix, the bookworm son of her father’s new girlfriend. Becca explores Vienna and learns about the ongoing war in the former Yugoslavia and how it has affected Sara and her family back home. Inspired by Sara’s resilience and ambitions, Becca decides to make a list and do all the things she fears most. In this thoughtful novel populated with well-developed characters, Levine slowly and realistically reveals Becca’s growth, including her shifting relationships with her father, Sara, and Felix. Main characters read as White.

An important story about anxiety, change, and courage. (author's note, further reading) (Fiction. 10-13)

Pub Date: June 15, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-525-51864-8

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: April 13, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2021

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From the School for Good and Evil series , Vol. 1

Rich and strange (and kitted out with an eye-catching cover), but stronger in the set pieces than the internal logic.

Chainani works an elaborate sea change akin to Gregory Maguire’s Wicked (1995), though he leaves the waters muddied.

Every four years, two children, one regarded as particularly nice and the other particularly nasty, are snatched from the village of Gavaldon by the shadowy School Master to attend the divided titular school. Those who survive to graduate become major or minor characters in fairy tales. When it happens to sweet, Disney princess–like Sophie and  her friend Agatha, plain of features, sour of disposition and low of self-esteem, they are both horrified to discover that they’ve been dropped not where they expect but at Evil and at Good respectively. Gradually—too gradually, as the author strings out hundreds of pages of Hogwarts-style pranks, classroom mishaps and competitions both academic and romantic—it becomes clear that the placement wasn’t a mistake at all. Growing into their true natures amid revelations and marked physical changes, the two spark escalating rivalry between the wings of the school. This leads up to a vicious climactic fight that sees Good and Evil repeatedly switching sides. At this point, readers are likely to feel suddenly left behind, as, thanks to summary deus ex machina resolutions, everything turns out swell(ish).

Rich and strange (and kitted out with an eye-catching cover), but stronger in the set pieces than the internal logic. (Fantasy. 11-13)

Pub Date: May 14, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-06-210489-2

Page Count: 496

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Feb. 12, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2013

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A sly, side-splitting hoot from start to finish.

The dreary prospect of spending a lifetime making caskets instead of wonderful inventions prompts a young orphan to snatch up his little sister and flee. Where? To the circus, of course.

Fortunately or otherwise, John and 6-year-old Page join up with Boz—sometime human cannonball for the seedy Wandering Wayfarers and a “vertically challenged” trickster with a fantastic gift for sowing chaos. Alas, the budding engineer barely has time to settle in to begin work on an experimental circus wagon powered by chicken poop and dubbed (with questionable forethought) the Autopsy. The hot pursuit of malign and indomitable Great-Aunt Beauregard, the Coggins’ only living relative, forces all three to leave the troupe for further flights and misadventures. Teele spins her adventure around a sturdy protagonist whose love for his little sister is matched only by his fierce desire for something better in life for them both and tucks in an outstanding supporting cast featuring several notably strong-minded, independent women (Page, whose glare “would kill spiders dead,” not least among them). Better yet, in Boz she has created a scene-stealing force of nature, a free spirit who’s never happier than when he’s stirring up mischief. A climactic clutch culminating in a magnificently destructive display of fireworks leaves the Coggin sibs well-positioned for bright futures. (Illustrations not seen.)

A sly, side-splitting hoot from start to finish. (Adventure. 11-13)

Pub Date: April 12, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-06-234510-3

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Walden Pond Press/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Dec. 21, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2016

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