One of Natasha’s seventh-grade successes is finally finishing a story; usually they are as unfinished as this one, first in...

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WISHING DAY

From the Wishing Day series , Vol. 1

In sleepy Willow Hill, a girl’s many wishes come true.

That’s what people say about wishes made on the third night of the third month after her 13th birthday. Seventh-grader Natasha Blok isn’t quite sure she believes this, but after her magical wishing night she does make her first kiss happen. Will the other two come true as well? The oldest of three motherless girls fewer than three years apart in age, Natasha is the responsible one, but she has a secret side: she writes stories. She longs for someone to see all of her, to be “somebody’s favorite.” When she starts getting mysterious messages, she thinks maybe that wish is coming true—or maybe it’s her “impossible wish”: that her mother were still alive. Grounded firmly in present-day middle school life, this has just enough magic to be unsettling and keep readers engaged. Natasha and her sisters, pretty Darya and creative Ava, are clearly drawn, believable characters; all are white. Her encounters with the elderly, enigmatic Bird Lady are deliciously puzzling. The chronologically straightforward third-person narrative is organized into sections separated by other characters’ revealing wishes and propelled by convincing dialogue.

One of Natasha’s seventh-grade successes is finally finishing a story; usually they are as unfinished as this one, first in a planned trilogy. Readers like her sisters will be eager to see where her story goes. (Fiction. 9-13)

Pub Date: May 3, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-06-234206-5

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Katherine Tegen/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Feb. 17, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2016

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A sly, side-splitting hoot from start to finish.

THE MECHANICAL MIND OF JOHN COGGIN

The dreary prospect of spending a lifetime making caskets instead of wonderful inventions prompts a young orphan to snatch up his little sister and flee. Where? To the circus, of course.

Fortunately or otherwise, John and 6-year-old Page join up with Boz—sometime human cannonball for the seedy Wandering Wayfarers and a “vertically challenged” trickster with a fantastic gift for sowing chaos. Alas, the budding engineer barely has time to settle in to begin work on an experimental circus wagon powered by chicken poop and dubbed (with questionable forethought) the Autopsy. The hot pursuit of malign and indomitable Great-Aunt Beauregard, the Coggins’ only living relative, forces all three to leave the troupe for further flights and misadventures. Teele spins her adventure around a sturdy protagonist whose love for his little sister is matched only by his fierce desire for something better in life for them both and tucks in an outstanding supporting cast featuring several notably strong-minded, independent women (Page, whose glare “would kill spiders dead,” not least among them). Better yet, in Boz she has created a scene-stealing force of nature, a free spirit who’s never happier than when he’s stirring up mischief. A climactic clutch culminating in a magnificently destructive display of fireworks leaves the Coggin sibs well-positioned for bright futures. (Illustrations not seen.)

A sly, side-splitting hoot from start to finish. (Adventure. 11-13)

Pub Date: April 12, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-06-234510-3

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Walden Pond Press/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2016

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However the compelling fitness of theme and event and the apt but unexpected imagery (the opening sentences compare the...

TUCK EVERLASTING

At a time when death has become an acceptable, even voguish subject in children's fiction, Natalie Babbitt comes through with a stylistic gem about living forever. 

Protected Winnie, the ten-year-old heroine, is not immortal, but when she comes upon young Jesse Tuck drinking from a secret spring in her parents' woods, she finds herself involved with a family who, having innocently drunk the same water some 87 years earlier, haven't aged a moment since. Though the mood is delicate, there is no lack of action, with the Tucks (previously suspected of witchcraft) now pursued for kidnapping Winnie; Mae Tuck, the middle aged mother, striking and killing a stranger who is onto their secret and would sell the water; and Winnie taking Mae's place in prison so that the Tucks can get away before she is hanged from the neck until....? Though Babbitt makes the family a sad one, most of their reasons for discontent are circumstantial and there isn't a great deal of wisdom to be gleaned from their fate or Winnie's decision not to share it. 

However the compelling fitness of theme and event and the apt but unexpected imagery (the opening sentences compare the first week in August when this takes place to "the highest seat of a Ferris wheel when it pauses in its turning") help to justify the extravagant early assertion that had the secret about to be revealed been known at the time of the action, the very earth "would have trembled on its axis like a beetle on a pin." (Fantasy. 9-11)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 1975

ISBN: 0312369816

Page Count: 164

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: April 13, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 1975

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