Beautiful verse but insufficient depth.

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WITH A STAR IN MY HAND

RUBÉN DARÍO, POETRY HERO

Multiaward-winning author Engle presents the childhood and youth of famed Nicaraguan poet Rubén Darío.

Engle tirelessly brings forth yet another influential Latin American whose life is little known to children in the United States. Based on Darío’s autobiography, the free-verse novel is told in the voice of the poet as imagined by Engle. Readers learn of the mother who abandoned him at a young age under a palm tree; of the great-uncle who gave him a home; and of learning “the essential skill of storytelling” from this same great-uncle, “who tells tall tales / in a booming, larger-than-life / story voice.” Darío started writing poetry as a child and was soon known as “el niño poeta” (the poet boy). Impulsive and smart, Darío’s youth was both marked by events out of his control and controlled by his emotions. At the age of 19 he left Nicaragua for Chile, and—aside from one last poem briefly summarizing the rest of his life—it is here the novel ends. Unfortunately, the book focuses more on the emotional life that carried him forward than on the events surrounding him, leaving readers with the need to go elsewhere for a more complete picture.

Beautiful verse but insufficient depth. (author’s note, references) (Historical verse fiction. 12-15)

Pub Date: Feb. 18, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5344-2493-7

Page Count: 160

Publisher: Atheneum

Review Posted Online: Oct. 28, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2019

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Sanderson (Legion, 2018, etc.) plainly had a ball with this nonstop, highflying opener, and readers will too.

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SKYWARD

From the Skyward series , Vol. 1

Eager to prove herself, the daughter of a flier disgraced for cowardice hurls herself into fighter pilot training to join a losing war against aliens.

Plainly modeled as a cross between Katniss Everdeen and Conan the Barbarian (“I bathed in fires of destruction and reveled in the screams of the defeated. I didn’t get afraid”), Spensa “Spin” Nightshade leaves her previous occupation—spearing rats in the caverns of the colony planet Detritus for her widowed mother’s food stand—to wangle a coveted spot in the Defiant Defense Force’s flight school. Opportunities to exercise wild recklessness and growing skill begin at once, as the class is soon in the air, battling the mysterious Krell raiders who have driven people underground. Spensa, who is assumed white, interacts with reasonably diverse human classmates with varying ethnic markers. M-Bot, a damaged AI of unknown origin, develops into a comical sidekick: “Hello!...You have nearly died, and so I will say something to distract you from the serious, mind-numbing implications of your own mortality! I hate your shoes.” Meanwhile, hints that all is not as it seems, either with the official story about her father or the whole Krell war in general, lead to startling revelations and stakes-raising implications by the end. Stay tuned. Maps and illustrations not seen.

Sanderson (Legion, 2018, etc.) plainly had a ball with this nonstop, highflying opener, and readers will too. (Science fiction. 12-15)

Pub Date: Nov. 6, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-399-55577-0

Page Count: 528

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: Sept. 30, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2018

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Quietly suspenseful, vividly character-driven, and poignant, with insights into cerebral palsy and the multiple meanings of...

I HAVE NO SECRETS

A nonverbal teen becomes the “real-life password” to solving a terrible crime in this British import.

Sixteen-year-old Jemma has “no secrets of [her] own.” Quadriplegic due to cerebral palsy, she can’t move or speak and depends on her foster parents and her aide, Sarah, for everything from eating to using the bathroom. But people often share their secrets with her. After all, Jemma can never tell—even when Sarah’s sleazy boyfriend, Dan, hints at his involvement in a recent murder just before Sarah goes missing. But when innovative technology offers Jemma a chance to communicate, can she expose Dan’s secret before he silences her? Despite its suspenseful premise, the plot pales against Joelson’s (Girl in the Window, 2018) intimate, unflinching exploration of Jemma’s character; the book’s most powerful tension lies in Jemma’s simple, direct narration of her unrecognized, uncomfortably realistic frustrations and fears, such as patronizing adults who “don’t realize that [she has] a functioning brain” and her worry that her overwhelmed parents will stop fostering. Refreshingly, the author’s detailed depiction of augmentative and alternative communication explores both the joy of self-expression and the physical and mental effort it requires. Jemma’s bond with her chaotic but supportive foster family grounds the story, particularly her touching rapport with her younger foster brother, Finn, who’s autistic and also nonverbal. Most characters appear white.

Quietly suspenseful, vividly character-driven, and poignant, with insights into cerebral palsy and the multiple meanings of “family.” (Suspense. 12-15)

Pub Date: Nov. 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4926-9336-9

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire

Review Posted Online: Aug. 13, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2019

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