From the Brookmeade Young Riders series

It's time for the Dream Horse to die.

It is. The Dream Horse is an archetype distressingly common in children's literature, spawning awful books like this one for generations of obsessed little riders. Young teen Sarah Wagner is a Talented Horseless Rider who, through the interventions of an Amazingly Kind Adult, is gifted with a choice of four horses just off the track. The one she picks, a gelding of remarkable, valuable breeding who never raced because he is so poorly behaved under saddle (a fantastic choice for a kid!), is immediately found to have a reversible medical condition (somehow missed by the track vets) that will made him tractable. A real, honest teenager would at this point immediately return the horse for one of the others—his racing career is presumably restored, and since she's only owned the horse one day and never ridden him, he's the equal to her of the others. But no. This is a Dream Horse. Our Heroine must throw temper tantrums until she can keep the horse; the adults, instead of counseling her toward appropriate moral behavior, applaud her Loyalty and Perseverance. There's also a Poor Little Rich Girl, a Stalwart Friend, an Irascible Groom and a Token Boy Rider. Despite the liberal use of tropes, far too much of the prose is unnecessary, laborious detail. Worse, it's first in a series. (Fiction. 10-13) 


Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-57076-546-9

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Trafalgar Square

Review Posted Online: Aug. 29, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2012

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

A nicely reassuring read with a satisfying ending; a harbinger of more good novels to come from this author. (Fiction. 10-13)


Sometimes life can just wallop you in the head like the missile of the title.

So 13-year-old Marley learns when her parents separate, her dad moves out and starts weeding his garden incessantly, the relationship with her two best girlfriends starts to unravel for good—and she meets Jack, a great-looking, baseball-loving boy. Then, to top it all off, she has to spend the summer with her father in his new house and deal with the job he’s lined up for her—caring for two adorable but bratty, needy 5-year-old twins, daughters of a neighbor who may or may not be Dad’s new girlfriend. Readers have seen this all before, but Vernick makes a very auspicious fiction debut here with her breezy, briskly paced tale, well-portrayed characters, authentic relationships and keen ear for realistic dialogue. The sweet, swoony young romance doesn’t hurt either, and preteen female readers will eat this up and learn a wise and wistful thing or two about friendships, including when and how to walk away and start new ones. The author also handles the parents’ separation and Marley’s learning how to cope with it and life’s inevitable changes successfully and with sensitivity.

A nicely reassuring read with a satisfying ending; a harbinger of more good novels to come from this author. (Fiction. 10-13)

Pub Date: Sept. 5, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-547-59554-2

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Clarion

Review Posted Online: July 20, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2011

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

The other settlers think Ty's parents are crazy for their willingness to do business with "surfs"—the unwanted surfeit...


Ty, the underwater settler from Dark Life (2010), has to rescue his harvest, his parents and a slew of ragged surfs in this breakneck adventure.

The other settlers think Ty's parents are crazy for their willingness to do business with "surfs"—the unwanted surfeit population who sail the oceans in floating townships and are notorious for raids, crime and untrustworthy behavior. Were the cynics right? Drift township kidnaps Ty's parents and steals their crop of seaweed. While Ty searches for his parents, he finds signs that something bigger than the kidnapping of his parents is afoot: An entire township has sunk to the bottom of the ocean, its population left to die. Ty and his erstwhile girlfriend Gemma also learn a lot more about the politics of the settlements than they ever expected. Alas, despite Ty's frequent brushes with moral complexity—perhaps the laws protecting the settlement help make things so bad for the surfs they have few ethical choices; perhaps sometimes he needs to look "at the consequences down the line" for society instead of at his own immediate need—the ultimate resolution is all too simple.

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-545-17843-3

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: June 6, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2011

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet