A worthy romp that manages to teach powerful lessons as it entertains.

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Hello There, We've Been Waiting for You!

In this middle-grade novel, a girl coping with her mother’s death experiences a series of bizarre adventures involving a magical TV set after she moves in with her shopping-addicted grandmother.

Madison McGee, an 11-year-old tomboy with a love of the great outdoors, begins her summer mourning the sudden death of her mother from a heart attack. Madison has never known her father, and she has no guardian to turn to except her maternal grandmother, Florida Brown, a resident of the tiny town of Truth or Consequences, N.M. Florida, who cares less about her granddaughter’s tomboy interests and more about trying to pretty her up, is addicted to shopping shows on TV, filling her house with the useless, bizarre goods she orders every day. Lonely Madison finds solace in one neighbor’s sweet but neglected dog as well as an oddball woman named Rosalie Claire, who has a penchant for wise words and a fanny pack similar to Mary Poppins’ magical carpetbag. Madison’s already topsy-turvy summer gets even weirder when the MegaPix 6000 shows up at Florida’s house. This mysterious, magical television has the power to zap the viewer into whatever show he or she is currently watching, whether it be one of Florida’s shopping shows, Madison’s favorite teen sitcom or a survival-based reality show in the Amazon. Through their time in the MegaPix and in the real world, Madison and Florida end up learning a number of valuable lessons about the importance of family and accepting people’s differences, no matter how odd they might seem. Author Arnold’s debut novel, the first in a trilogy about Madison’s adventures with the MegaPix, is fun and fantastical, with wacky characters that burst off the page and into readers’ hearts. Though the plot at some points relies a bit too heavily on magic, Madison is relatable as a protagonist, which helps keep the story grounded, and its zaniness and originality should be a welcome distraction for young readers.

A worthy romp that manages to teach powerful lessons as it entertains.

Pub Date: Sept. 17, 2013

ISBN: 978-1935212515

Page Count: 176

Publisher: Prospecta Press

Review Posted Online: Dec. 11, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2014

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Touching, riotously funny, and absolutely stunning.

ARU SHAH AND THE TREE OF WISHES

From the Pandava Quintet series , Vol. 3

In the third instalment of the Pandava Quartet, 14-year-old Arundhati “Aru” Shah and her companions need to defeat their archnemesis (and Aru’s father), the Sleeper, and prevent the impending war between the devas and asuras.

The novel opens with Aru and her friends on a mission to rescue two people from the Sleeper’s soldiers. The two people are 10-year-old identical twins and Pandavas Nikita and Sheela, trapped atop a Ferris wheel in downtown Atlanta. This mission is of utmost importance because Sheela is a clairvoyant with an important prophecy, which speaks of the rise of the Sleeper and an untrue Pandava sister—and which the Sleeper must not hear at any cost. Despite their best efforts, however, one of the Sleeper’s soldiers overhears the prophecy, and Aru, Mini, Brynne, and Adin—accompanied by Rudy, a serpent prince—set off to find the missing Kalpavriksha, a wish-granting tree, so that they might wish upon it to set things right. Much like its predecessors, this fast-moving adventure draws on Hindu cosmology and South Asian pop-culture references to create an enchanting but believable magical Otherworld, where gods, demigods, demons, and talking animals abound. Chokshi’s novel is pitch perfect: The plot is action-packed, the dialogue witty, and the characters (almost all of whom are either Indian or part-Indian) are compelling, diverse, and complex.

Touching, riotously funny, and absolutely stunning. (Fantasy. 10-14)

Pub Date: April 7, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-368-01385-7

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Rick Riordan Presents/Disney

Review Posted Online: April 4, 2020

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Though the lessons weigh more heavily than in The One and Only Ivan, a potential disappointment to its fans, the story is...

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CRENSHAW

Applegate tackles homelessness in her first novel since 2013 Newbery winner The One and Only Ivan.

Hunger is a constant for soon-to-be fifth-grader Jackson and his family, and the accompanying dizziness may be why his imaginary friend is back. A giant cat named Crenshaw first appeared after Jackson finished first grade, when his parents moved the family into their minivan for several months. Now they’re facing eviction again, and Jackson’s afraid that he won’t be going to school next year with his friend Marisol. When Crenshaw shows up on a surfboard, Jackson, an aspiring scientist who likes facts, wonders whether Crenshaw is real or a figment of his imagination. Jackson’s first-person narrative moves from the present day, when he wishes that his parents understood that he’s old enough to hear the truth about the family’s finances, to the first time they were homeless and back to the present. The structure allows readers access to the slow buildup of Jackson’s panic and his need for a friend and stability in his life. Crenshaw tells Jackson that “Imaginary friends don’t come of their own volition. We are invited. We stay as long as we’re needed.” The cat’s voice, with its adult tone, is the conduit for the novel’s lessons: “You need to tell the truth, my friend….To the person who matters most of all.”

Though the lessons weigh more heavily than in The One and Only Ivan, a potential disappointment to its fans, the story is nevertheless a somberly affecting one . (Fiction. 7-11)

Pub Date: Sept. 22, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-250-04323-8

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Feiwel & Friends

Review Posted Online: June 29, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2015

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