THE EDUCATION OF BET

Nineteenth-century servant girl Bet follows the classic cross-dressing adventure, disguising herself as a boy so she can attend school in a tale more Yentl than Mulan. Will is a 16-year-old upper-crust rapscallion, and Bet is the servant and companion who’s been raised side-by-side with him all her life. Will has been expelled from yet one more school when Bet proposes her cunning plan: Bet will take Will’s place, and Will can enter the military as he’s always dreamed. The plan goes off without a hitch. It’s too bad that Will’s current school, the Betterman Academy, is a dreadful place reserved for unredeemable boys. Luckily for Bet, her roommate, James, is a darling. This slim volume steps through all the required moments in the girl-disguised-as-a-boy genre, though one hopes the predictable moments of gay panic and safely heterosexual resolution will ring false to modern readers. This brief historical, solidly 20th century in feel, offers a perfectly pleasant romantic interlude for readers looking for bookish but light fare. (Historical fiction. 11-13)

Pub Date: July 1, 2010

ISBN: 978-0-547-22308-7

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin

Review Posted Online: June 2, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2010

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In the spirit of Jane Yolen's The Devil's Arithmetic (1988), with a mix of historical details about the women's-suffrage...

BLUE THREAD

Travels in time give a middle-class girl the courage to fight for both women's suffrage and her own dreams.

Sixteen-year-old Miriam, lover of typography, wants nothing more than to train at her father's print shop. But respectable, well-to-do girls don't work with heavy machinery in 1912 Portland, Ore. Miriam's immigrant Jewish parents, proud of the future they've built from poverty, intend an advantageous marriage for their only living child. If befriending a lovely pair of poor young suffragists isn't enough to make Miriam rebel, what is? Perhaps time travel is what she needs. Miriam is visited by her biblical relative, Serakh, who begs Miriam to travel back in time to help her ancestors. The daughters of Zelophehad seek a favor from Moses, and Miriam is needed to provide them with courage. Miriam pops back and forth between worlds: well-to-do Portland, where she makes morning calls and attends fancy-dress parties; biblical Moab; and the equally exotic, alien environment of suffragist marches and working-class neighborhoods. It takes all three to help her find the initiative, empathy and common sense to help push her toward adulthood.

In the spirit of Jane Yolen's The Devil's Arithmetic (1988), with a mix of historical details about the women's-suffrage movement and early printing, tied together with a very Jewish thread of historical continuity . (Historical fantasy. 11-13)

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-932010-41-1

Page Count: 296

Publisher: Ooligan Press

Review Posted Online: Dec. 20, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2012

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Despite an engaging start and intriguing finish, Book 2 suffers from an overloaded middle that lessens the punch of its...

THE RAVENS OF SOLEMANO

OR THE ORDER OF THE MYSTERIOUS MEN IN BLACK

From the Young Inventors Guild series , Vol. 2

In the middle volume of a planned trilogy, Bowditch’s Young Inventors Guild travels to an ancient Italian village, unearthing more questions than even an international team of geniuses can answer.

It’s 1903, and for a moment, Jasper, Lucy, Faye, Wallace and Noah (five brilliant children) have everything: longed-for parents who’ve magically returned to them, well-stocked labs, and their faithful teacher, Miss Brett. But the children are devastated when, whisked away by their darkly clad guardians, they see all they love explode. The story starts fast, generating many questions: Why is villain Komar Romak still after them? Why do their diaries vanish? And are the men in strange black garb friends or foes? Despite that quick start and some engaging ideas (explosive mirages, a meeting with Nikola Tesla, an escape in a ship-turned-submarine), the book slows when the travelers reach Solemano. There, the plot bogs down amid myriad details, including descriptions of a snowball fight and baked delicacies, childish squabbles, and unresolved emotional dramas (where have the children’s parents got to?). Like its guild members, this story seems to lack a clearly defined mission; there’s just too much for readers (especially those new to the series) to keep track of. The pace quickens in a suspenseful end that answers many questions but leaves others unresolved for the conclusion.

Despite an engaging start and intriguing finish, Book 2 suffers from an overloaded middle that lessens the punch of its plotline. (Fantasy. 11-13)

Pub Date: June 14, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-61088-104-3

Page Count: 464

Publisher: Bancroft Press

Review Posted Online: Aug. 14, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2013

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