An engaging story of a young teen finding what’s most important in his life.

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FLIP THE BIRD

Fourteen-year-old Mercer Buddie is a falconer-in-training wanting desperately to earn the Best Apprentice pin and prove himself to his father at the same time.

Mercer’s father, a wildlife rehabilitation specialist, runs the Buddie Bird Rehab Center. On their way out on a trapping expedition, Mercer happens to meet a girl in the pet store and is instantly smitten. She’s the prettiest girl he’s ever seen: gorgeous green eyes and “elbow-length hair the white-blond color of candlelight.” The trouble is, Lucy and her parents are members of HALT, a fanatical animal rights organization opposing mistreatment of animals, including the caging of hawks. Can a white boy in love with raptors fall in love with a girl who opposes everything he stands for? It’s a Romeo and Juliet–style quandary that turns ugly when members of HALT vandalize the Buddies’ rehabilitation center and release the birds. Mercer must take responsibility, do what’s right, and decide what is most important to him in life. Brunner writes an impassioned story with real-life moral dilemmas. Abundant details of falconry, the result of the author’s own falconry apprentice lessons (as explained in the acknowledgments), root the story solidly in a fascinating world new to most readers.

An engaging story of a young teen finding what’s most important in his life. (Fiction. 10-14)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-544-80085-4

Page Count: 368

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: July 26, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2016

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This is no didactic near-future warning of present evils, but a cinematic adventure featuring endearing, compelling heroes

LEGEND

From the Legend series , Vol. 1

A gripping thriller in dystopic future Los Angeles.

Fifteen-year-olds June and Day live completely different lives in the glorious Republic. June is rich and brilliant, the only candidate ever to get a perfect score in the Trials, and is destined for a glowing career in the military. She looks forward to the day when she can join up and fight the Republic’s treacherous enemies east of the Dakotas. Day, on the other hand, is an anonymous street rat, a slum child who failed his own Trial. He's also the Republic's most wanted criminal, prone to stealing from the rich and giving to the poor. When tragedies strike both their families, the two brilliant teens are thrown into direct opposition. In alternating first-person narratives, Day and June experience coming-of-age adventures in the midst of spying, theft and daredevil combat. Their voices are distinct and richly drawn, from Day’s self-deprecating affection for others to June's Holmesian attention to detail. All the flavor of a post-apocalyptic setting—plagues, class warfare, maniacal soldiers—escalates to greater complexity while leaving space for further worldbuilding in the sequel.

This is no didactic near-future warning of present evils, but a cinematic adventure featuring endearing, compelling heroes . (Science fiction. 12-14)

Pub Date: Nov. 29, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-399-25675-2

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: April 8, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2011

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If hoping to grab a heartfelt connection, readers may feel sidelined, but plot turns will certainly keep them entranced.

THE ALWAYS WAR

For the past 75 years, Tessa’s nation has been at war—a war that has no end in sight.

Tessa lives in a community of weary people, visibly crushed by endless years of combat. They are numb; war is commonplace. But when a local boy receives an award for bravery—the nation’s highest—it lifts the city. Everyone, especially Tessa, desperately needs a hero. But Gideon shocks the town by refusing the honor. He declares himself a coward and runs away. He has killed more than 1,000 people; there is no honor in that. But that’s what war is, isn’t it? Killing the enemy is necessary. Gideon infuriates Tessa, but she is inexplicably curious as well. She follows him and ends up on a plane, with Gideon steering it straight toward the enemy line. He hopes to apologize, to atone for his mistakes, but what he and Tessa (along with a stowaway orphan named Dek) find when they open the plane’s door changes the plan dramatically. This dystopian drama examines the human aspect of war, and also how technology may redefine war in the future. In line with that tension, it is difficult to pinpoint which character grows the most in the narrative—Tessa or the computer.

If hoping to grab a heartfelt connection, readers may feel sidelined, but plot turns will certainly keep them entranced. (Dystopia. 10-14)

Pub Date: Nov. 15, 2011

ISBN: 978-1-4169-9526-5

Page Count: 208

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Sept. 21, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2011

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