IN SEARCH OF MOCKINGBIRD

Believing that the tattered copy of To Kill a Mockingbird she carries around is her only connection to her dead mother, bookish Erin is angry when her newly engaged father gives her the woman’s teenaged diary as a 16th-birthday present. Reading that her mom also wanted to be a writer and even wrote to Mockingbird author Harper Lee, Erin acts on her long-held wish to meet her literary idol. Set over the course of a few days in 1986, and featuring a strong sense of the American landscape, Erin travels the thousand-plus miles from St. Paul, Minn. to Monroeville, Ala. on a bus. Along the way, she is shepherded by two quirky guardians: Sedushia, a middle-aged exotic dancer, and Epps, a big, protective computer geek. With a first-person narrative that is eloquent and credible, and prose that is restrained and economical, Ellsworth makes Erin’s unlikely coming-of-age trip convincing. Designed to look like an old journal, the story’s searching-for-mother theme should make it especially appealing to older fans of Kate DiCamillo’s Because of Winn Dixie (2000) and Phyllis Reynolds Naylor’s Alice Books. An engaging road trip. (Fiction. 10-14)

Pub Date: April 1, 2007

ISBN: 0-8050-7236-5

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2007

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WHAT THE MOON SAW

When Clara Luna, 14, visits rural Mexico for the summer to visit the paternal grandparents she has never met, she cannot know her trip will involve an emotional and spiritual journey into her family’s past and a deep connection to a rich heritage of which she was barely aware. Long estranged from his parents, Clara’s father had entered the U.S. illegally years before, subsequently becoming a successful business owner who never spoke about what he left behind. Clara’s journey into her grandmother’s history (told in alternating chapters with Clara’s own first-person narrative) and her discovery that she, like her grandmother and ancestors, has a gift for healing, awakens her to the simple, mystical joys of a rural lifestyle she comes to love and wholly embrace. Painfully aware of not fitting into suburban teen life in her native Maryland, Clara awakens to feeling alive in Mexico and realizes a sweet first love with Pedro, a charming goat herder. Beautifully written, this is filled with evocative language that is rich in imagery and nuance and speaks to the connections that bind us all. Add a thrilling adventure and all the makings of an entrancing read are here. (glossaries) (Fiction. 12-14)

Pub Date: Sept. 12, 2006

ISBN: 0-385-73343-7

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2006

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This is no didactic near-future warning of present evils, but a cinematic adventure featuring endearing, compelling heroes

LEGEND

From the Legend series , Vol. 1

A gripping thriller in dystopic future Los Angeles.

Fifteen-year-olds June and Day live completely different lives in the glorious Republic. June is rich and brilliant, the only candidate ever to get a perfect score in the Trials, and is destined for a glowing career in the military. She looks forward to the day when she can join up and fight the Republic’s treacherous enemies east of the Dakotas. Day, on the other hand, is an anonymous street rat, a slum child who failed his own Trial. He's also the Republic's most wanted criminal, prone to stealing from the rich and giving to the poor. When tragedies strike both their families, the two brilliant teens are thrown into direct opposition. In alternating first-person narratives, Day and June experience coming-of-age adventures in the midst of spying, theft and daredevil combat. Their voices are distinct and richly drawn, from Day’s self-deprecating affection for others to June's Holmesian attention to detail. All the flavor of a post-apocalyptic setting—plagues, class warfare, maniacal soldiers—escalates to greater complexity while leaving space for further worldbuilding in the sequel.

This is no didactic near-future warning of present evils, but a cinematic adventure featuring endearing, compelling heroes . (Science fiction. 12-14)

Pub Date: Nov. 29, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-399-25675-2

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: April 8, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2011

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