JUNIPER BERRY

Eleven-year-old Juniper Berry appears to have the perfect life. Her parents are superstar actors. She lives in a mansion behind gilded gates. She has servants and tutors and even the perfect dog, Kitty. However, her parents mostly ignore her...but it wasn't always that way. She remembers playing in the snow and trips to New York and a time when they'd never have allowed her to play outside in the rain. Juniper watches the world through her various lenses, binoculars and telescopes searching for the truth, until she meets Giles in the woods behind her house. He's looking for the tree his parents disappeared into. His parents have changed too, and he's sure that what's inside that tree is to blame. Juniper follows her parents into the night, and, sure enough, they too disappear into a particularly nasty, twisted tree. When she and Giles mount an expedition, what they find might be the answer to their dreams or the embodiment of their worst nightmares. The cowled figure Skeksyl offers each their fondest wish, but at a price. Can Juniper resist? Can she save her parents? Kozlowsky's Coraline-scented debut is a slow-out-of-the-gate creepy horror tale with an intricately engineered ending so perfect it cloys. Juniper tries for pluck but barely achieves interesting. Best left for only the most voracious chiller fans. (Horror. 9-12)

Pub Date: May 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-06-199869-0

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Walden Pond Press/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: April 6, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2011

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A perfectly acceptable and predictable trifle. (Science fiction. 9-12)

HOUSE OF ROBOTS

From the House of Robots series , Vol. 1

Sammy is less than thrilled when his genius inventor mother creates a robot brother for him.

Sammy Hayes-Rodriguez's life has always been filled with robots. His mother has invented automatons that clean the floors, mow the lawn, give traffic reports and even plant fantastic gardens. Sammy's school has until now been a robot-free zone, but when Mom invents E (for Egghead, or maybe Einstein Jr.—his parents can’t decide) and insists Sammy take the new robot to school, things get out of hand. Chronicling the ups and downs of an entire school year with a robot brother, the authors put cute sci-fi twists on first-time crushes, school bullies and best-friend troubles. There's nothing here that breaks new ground or illuminates the psyche of young boys in any new or interesting ways, but there are plenty of amusing jokes. Young readers with an interest in science will certainly be engaged. A subplot featuring Sammy's younger sister, a brilliant girl who is homebound by severe combined immunodeficiency disorder, is as by-the-numbers as the rest of the book, but it doesn't tie in to the robot plot until the very end. It's hard to tell if this development is a clumsy climax or an awkward setup for a sequel. Either way, it doesn't work well with everything that came beforehand.

A perfectly acceptable and predictable trifle.  (Science fiction. 9-12)

Pub Date: Nov. 24, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-316-40591-1

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Jan. 7, 2015

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A richly atmospheric page-turner—readers will eagerly anticipate the forthcoming sequel.

THE CLOCKWORK CROW

From the Clockwork Crow series

Young Seren Rhys stands on the cusp of a new life. Unfortunately for her, the train to her new life is late.

Following the death of her aunt, who saved her from her 12-year stay at the orphanage, she receives word that her godfather, Capt. Arthur Jones, will take her in. Seren spends her wait dreaming of the Jones family and their surely bustling, welcoming manor, Plas-y-Fran in Wales. An encounter with a mysterious man and his more mysterious wrapped parcel (containing the eponymous mechanical bird) leaves Seren reeling, and the mysteries multiply when she arrives at Plas-y-Fran. The place is shuttered and cold, nearly deserted but for a few fearful, oppressively unforthcoming servants. The captain and his wife are away; of their young son, Tomos, there is neither sign nor sound. With the Crow as her only, if reluctant, ally, Seren soon finds herself enmeshed in mayhem and magic that may prove lethal. In her characteristic style, Fisher crafts an elaborate fantasy from deceptively simple language. Seren is a sharp, saucy narrator whose constant puzzlement at others’ consternation over her impertinence provides running amusement. Supporting characters are fascinating if ambiguous players, not so much poorly drawn as poorly revealed, perhaps casualties of the quick pace. The deadened manor, however, provides the perfect backdrop for preternatural forces. Characters are presumed white.

A richly atmospheric page-turner—readers will eagerly anticipate the forthcoming sequel. (Fantasy. 9-12)

Pub Date: Sept. 8, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5362-1491-8

Page Count: 208

Publisher: Walker US/Candlewick

Review Posted Online: June 16, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2020

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