With echoes of Bridge to Terabithia, a nuanced exploration of the tension between enchantment and reality

MY JASPER JUNE

Instead of having a grand time at camp, Leah’s wandering aimlessly this hot Atlanta summer, overwhelmed by complicated grief.

Leah, a white Jewish 13-year-old, has been going through the motions of friendship this past year. Ever since her kid brother drowned last summer, she’s been drifting through the world like a ghost, with no help from her equally broken parents. With all her friends off enjoying their summer plans, Leah first enjoys the depressive nothingness of a plan-free vacation but is eventually driven out of the house by boredom. And it’s then, on an overgrown farm hidden near her wealthy corner of the city, that she first meets Jasper, who's 14. Jasper, an almost magical-seeming white redhead who does her laundry in the creek, evokes fairy tales for Leah. In the overgrown cottage where Jasper lives alone, Leah feels like she’s in the Vine Realm, having the kind of adventure “every kid fantasizes about.” But Jasper is on the run from a terrible home situation, and while she treasures her friendship with Leah, she still wants Leah to remember that she is homeless: “We aren’t playing Narnia or Hogwarts.” It takes Leah a long time to understand that the fantastical beauty she sees in Jasper’s overgrown encampment is really a desperate reality, but thanks to Snyder’s careful symbolism and meticulous tracking of class markers, children will see it before she does.

With echoes of Bridge to Terabithia, a nuanced exploration of the tension between enchantment and reality . (Fiction. 10-12)

Pub Date: Sept. 3, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-06-283662-5

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Walden Pond Press/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: June 16, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2019

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

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

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

Did you like this book?

Cinematic, over-the-top decadence, a tense race against time, and lessons on what’s truly valuable.

MILLIONAIRES FOR THE MONTH

A reward of $5,000,000 almost ruins everything for two seventh graders.

On a class trip to New York City, Felix and Benji find a wallet belonging to social media billionaire Laura Friendly. Benji, a well-off, chaotic kid with learning disabilities, swipes $20 from the wallet before they send it back to its owner. Felix, a poor, shy, rule-follower, reluctantly consents. So when Laura Friendly herself arrives to give them a reward for the returned wallet, she’s annoyed. To teach her larcenous helpers a lesson, Laura offers them a deal: a $20,000 college scholarship or slightly over $5 million cash—but with strings attached. The boys must spend all the money in 30 days, with legal stipulations preventing them from giving anything away, investing, or telling anyone about it. The glorious windfall quickly grows to become a chore and then a torment as the boys appear increasingly selfish and irresponsible to the adults in their lives. They rent luxury cars, hire a (wonderful) philosophy undergrad as a chauffeur, take their families to Disney World, and spend thousands on in-app game purchases. Yet, surrounded by hedonistically described piles of loot and filthy lucre, the boys long for simpler fundamentals. The absorbing spending spree reads like a fun family film, gleefully stuffed with the very opulence it warns against. Major characters are White.

Cinematic, over-the-top decadence, a tense race against time, and lessons on what’s truly valuable. (mathematical explanations) (Fiction. 10-12)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-593-17525-5

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: June 30, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2020

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet
more