A harmless, middle-grade mystery for budding sleuths.

RUBY REDFORT TAKE YOUR LAST BREATH

From the Ruby Redfort series , Vol. 2

Thirteen-year-old secret agent Ruby Redfort (Look Into My Eyes, 2012) barely has a week to breathe before finding herself in the middle of another dastardly evil plan—oh, there are also pirates, a sea monster, a mysterious stranger and a lost treasure, too.

This retro spy adventure opens with a series of strange marine disturbances. Coast Guard signals are scrambled, all the fish are gone, and there is a whispering sound coming from the ocean. Plus, one of the divers from Spectrum, the supersecret spy agency where Ruby trains, has washed ashore, dead. To add to the ever-evolving, sometimes belabored plot, the boat that Ruby’s parents are on is attacked by pirates, leaving both Sabina and Brant Redfort missing at sea. All of the subplots are ocean-related, but readers (and Ruby) don’t know how they are connected until Count von Viscount, the villain from the first volume, shows up briefly—his manifest evil nature enough to tie everything together. Child’s cliffhanger chapter endings help the pace tremendously, and the codes (musical and binary) that Ruby deciphers are great fun. But thrilling and edge-of-your-seat adventure? That seems to be the territory of other literary spies, despite a cover that oozes intrigue.

A harmless, middle-grade mystery for budding sleuths. (Mystery. 9-14)

Pub Date: May 14, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-7636-5468-9

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: March 27, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2013

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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

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An intense referendum on football’s dangers and glories.

FINAL SEASON

A star 12-year-old quarterback has a championship to win, a developing family tragedy to cope with, and a life-changing decision to make.

Barely disguising the autobiographical elements contained here in the wake of his own diagnosis of ALS, former Atlanta Falcons player Green places his protagonist, Ben Redd, in a football family and on an upstate New York team coached by his dad and two older brothers—all former gridiron stars themselves. Ben’s anticipation as he looks forward to a season that will be capped by a game against archrival Penn Yan battles with his terror as he watches his father’s NFL injuries come home to roost in slurred speech, loss of physical coordination, and, eventually, a frantic trip to the hospital for an emergency tracheotomy. But as Ben’s parents, both iron willed, clash over whether he should be allowed to follow the family career path (and one of his brothers even announces that none of his kids will ever play), the sport’s allure comes through in a series of exciting clashes, with Ben and wonderfully hard-nosed new teammate, Thea Jean, leading the on-field heroics on the way to a last-yard, smash-mouth finale that leaves him dazed and exultant, with a broken finger, a probable concussion…and a choice of futures. Though the cast is mostly male and mostly White, between them, Thea and Ben’s mom add strong female representation.

An intense referendum on football’s dangers and glories. (Fiction. 10-13)

Pub Date: Sept. 14, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-06-248595-3

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: July 27, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2021

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