Rewards await persistent readers: sly satire, quirky detail, and a smart, opinionated heroine brimming with ebullient...

READ REVIEW

RUBY REDFORT PICK YOUR POISON

From the Ruby Redfort series , Vol. 5

In the series’ penultimate adventure, the whip-smart, code-cracking teen spy for the secret Spectrum agency takes on venomous snakes, traitors, and evildoers but is helpless against poisonous rumors circulating at school.

Out of loyalty, Ruby took the rap for classmates whose fight summoned the cops; now she’s grounded, sentenced to community service, and forced to babysit Archie Lemon, age 1. After solving many cases for Spectrum, she’s suddenly frozen out of important briefings; do they think she’s the suspected mole? Her quick action saves a querulous neighbor’s snake-bitten dog but nets her only his abuse. No good deed goes unpunished, but the white 13-year-old isn’t about to give up sleuthing. There’s something weird about billboards advertising a new soft drink; investigating leads Ruby to familiar foes. Set in 1972 Southern California, the series, by an English author, has a 1950s sensibility (typical exclamations and epithets include “jeepers” and “Sam Hill”). The cellphone- and computer-free cultural ambiance is refreshing, but although the once-cartoonish characters have deepened over the series, their largely all-white world hasn’t evolved. It’s Little Lulu and Archie territory—no Vietnam War or cultural upheaval here. However dated, the ingenious puzzles and humor, especially in dialogue among Ruby and her peers, remain highlights. Still, slow pacing, frequent digressions, and unsentimental, bone-dry humor may challenge U.S. readers used to nonstop action and a straight plot throughline.

Rewards await persistent readers: sly satire, quirky detail, and a smart, opinionated heroine brimming with ebullient self-esteem. (afterword) (Mystery. 9-14)

Pub Date: April 11, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-7636-5471-9

Page Count: 528

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: Feb. 4, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2017

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

An endearing protagonist runs the first, fast leg of Reynolds' promising relay.

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

Google Rating

  • google rating
  • google rating
  • google rating
  • google rating
  • google rating
  • Kirkus Reviews'
    Best Books Of 2016

  • New York Times Bestseller

  • National Book Award Finalist

GHOST

From the Track series , Vol. 1

Castle “Ghost” Cranshaw feels like he’s been running ever since his dad pulled that gun on him and his mom—and used it.

His dad’s been in jail three years now, but Ghost still feels the trauma, which is probably at the root of the many “altercations” he gets into at middle school. When he inserts himself into a practice for a local elite track team, the Defenders, he’s fast enough that the hard-as-nails coach decides to put him on the team. Ghost is surprised to find himself caring enough about being on the team that he curbs his behavior to avoid “altercations.” But Ma doesn’t have money to spare on things like fancy running shoes, so Ghost shoplifts a pair that make his feet feel impossibly light—and his conscience correspondingly heavy. Ghost’s narration is candid and colloquial, reminiscent of such original voices as Bud Caldwell and Joey Pigza; his level of self-understanding is both believably childlike and disarming in its perception. He is self-focused enough that secondary characters initially feel one-dimensional, Coach in particular, but as he gets to know them better, so do readers, in a way that unfolds naturally and pleasingly. His three fellow “newbies” on the Defenders await their turns to star in subsequent series outings. Characters are black by default; those few white people in Ghost’s world are described as such.

An endearing protagonist runs the first, fast leg of Reynolds' promising relay. (Fiction. 10-14)

Pub Date: Aug. 30, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-4814-5015-7

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Caitlyn Dlouhy/Atheneum

Review Posted Online: July 20, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2016

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

Good Guys and Bad get just deserts in the end, and Stanley gets plenty of opportunities to display pluck and valor in this...

HOLES

Sentenced to a brutal juvenile detention camp for a crime he didn't commit, a wimpy teenager turns four generations of bad family luck around in this sunburnt tale of courage, obsession, and buried treasure from Sachar (Wayside School Gets a Little Stranger, 1995, etc.).

Driven mad by the murder of her black beau, a schoolteacher turns on the once-friendly, verdant town of Green Lake, Texas, becomes feared bandit Kissin' Kate Barlow, and dies, laughing, without revealing where she buried her stash. A century of rainless years later, lake and town are memories—but, with the involuntary help of gangs of juvenile offenders, the last descendant of the last residents is still digging. Enter Stanley Yelnats IV, great-grandson of one of Kissin' Kate's victims and the latest to fall to the family curse of being in the wrong place at the wrong time; under the direction of The Warden, a woman with rattlesnake venom polish on her long nails, Stanley and each of his fellow inmates dig a hole a day in the rock-hard lake bed. Weeks of punishing labor later, Stanley digs up a clue, but is canny enough to conceal the information of which hole it came from. Through flashbacks, Sachar weaves a complex net of hidden relationships and well-timed revelations as he puts his slightly larger-than-life characters under a sun so punishing that readers will be reaching for water bottles.

Good Guys and Bad get just deserts in the end, and Stanley gets plenty of opportunities to display pluck and valor in this rugged, engrossing adventure. (Fiction. 9-13)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1998

ISBN: 978-0-374-33265-5

Page Count: 233

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2000

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet
more