A welcome addition to the middle-grade library.

STORM WATCHER

This deftly plotted story will engage readers of both genders with its fresh storyline.

When 12-year-old Luke Riley’s mother is killed in a lightning-related accident, Luke’s fear of severe weather is heightened and his grief is exacerbated by guilt, as he believes it was his panicked phone call to his mother that caused her to be out in the storm. Luke’s father and older twin brothers, lost in their own grief, ignore him (in his father’s case) or tease him mercilessly (in his brothers’). To make matters worse, Luke doesn’t want the gift of a bloodhound puppy his father offers him for his 13th birthday; he wants a papillon puppy. Luke’s father, a respected search-and-rescue professional, will not hear of it. Luke gets a job working at a neighboring kennel ostensibly to earn a bloodhound puppy, but he picks a papillon puppy instead, keeping it secret. Then Luke’s new friend at the kennel, Megan, and Megan’s father go missing in a storm, and Luke must confront both his fear of severe weather and his deception. Intertwining family relationships, weather science and search-and-rescue dog training, this coming-of-age story relays themes of friendship, grief, challenge, fear and responsibility without didacticism or melodrama.

A welcome addition to the middle-grade library. (Adventure. 9-13)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-61603-033-9

Page Count: 187

Publisher: Leap Books

Review Posted Online: Aug. 28, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2013

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GIRL'S BEST FRIEND

From the Maggie Brooklyn Mysteries series

In this series debut, Maggie Sinclair tracks down a dognapper and solves a mystery about the noises in the walls of her Brooklyn brownstone apartment building. The 12-year-old heroine, who shares a middle name—Brooklyn—with her twin brother, Finn, is juggling two dogwalking jobs she’s keeping secret from her parents, and somehow she attracts the ire of the dogs’ former walker. Maggie tells her story in the first person—she’s self-possessed and likable, even when her clueless brother invites her ex–best friend, now something of an enemy, to their shared 12th birthday party. Maggie’s attention to details helps her to figure out why dogs seem to be disappearing and why there seem to be mice in the walls of her building, though astute readers will pick up on the solution to at least one mystery before Maggie solves it. There’s a brief nod to Nancy Drew, but the real tensions in this contemporary preteen story are more about friendship and boy crushes than skullduggery. Still, the setting is appealing, and Maggie is a smart and competent heroine whose personal life is just as interesting as—if not more than—her detective work. (Mystery. 10-13)

   

 

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2010

ISBN: 967-1-59990-525-9

Page Count: 208

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Review Posted Online: Sept. 15, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2010

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90 MILES TO HAVANA

After Castro’s takeover, nine-year-old Julian and his older brothers are sent away by their fearful parents via “Operation Pedro Pan” to a camp in Miami for Cuban-exile children. Here he discovers that a ruthless bully has essentially been put in charge. Julian is quicker-witted than his brothers or anyone else ever imagined, though, and with his inherent smarts, developing maturity and the help of child and adult friends, he learns to navigate the dynamics of the camp and surroundings and grows from the former baby of the family to independence and self-confidence. A daring rescue mission at the end of the novel will have readers rooting for Julian even as it opens his family’s eyes to his courage and resourcefulness. This autobiographical novel is a well-meaning, fast-paced and often exciting read, though at times the writing feels choppy. It will introduce readers to a not-so-distant period whose echoes are still felt today and inspire admiration for young people who had to be brave despite frightening and lonely odds. (Historical fiction. 9-12)

 

Pub Date: Aug. 3, 2010

ISBN: 978-1-59643-168-3

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Roaring Brook Press

Review Posted Online: June 14, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2010

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