In all, though, a visual and interpretive feast bringing timeless tales to a young audience.



Poetic portraits of well-known figures from Greek mythology.

Picking up where they left off with their “reverso” renderings of classic fairy tales (Follow Follow: A Book of Reversos, 2013, etc.), poet Singer and illustrator Masse take on Greek myth, choosing some of the most famous legends to explore from multiple perspectives. In 2010, Singer created the provocative reverso form, in which—not unlike an extended palindrome—a lyric poem presents a portrait and then recasts it backward, line by line, in a companion poem. The complicated fates of the dozen mythic figures portrayed here, among them Arachne, Midas, Demeter, and Persephone, lend themselves particularly well to this reflective form, and Masse’s gorgeous acrylics, richly stylized in blues and gold, effectively capture the dualistic nature of the reverso form. Here, curious Pandora, forever blamed for unleashing untold evils into the world when she “opened that darn box,” gets a sympathetic reprieve when the story flips: “She let loose those evils, / but / she didn’t collect them. / She gets the blame. / No matter that / it might have been great Zeus’s game.” The myth of “Eurydice and Orpheus,” though, again hinging on succumbing to desire, here relies rather too heavily on the narrative note at the bottom of the page to convey the tragic plot to young readers.

In all, though, a visual and interpretive feast bringing timeless tales to a young audience. (Picture book/poetry. 8-12)

Pub Date: Feb. 16, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-8037-3992-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: Nov. 3, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2015

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A fast and funny alternative to the Wimpy Kid.


From the Jake the Fake series , Vol. 1

Black sixth-grader Jake Liston can only play one song on the piano. He can’t read music very well, and he can’t improvise. So how did Jake get accepted to the Music and Art Academy? He faked it.

Alongside an eclectic group of academy classmates, and with advice from his best friend, Jake tries to fit in at a school where things like garbage sculpting and writing art reviews of bird poop splatter are the norm. All is well until Jake discovers that the end-of-the-semester talent show is only two weeks away, and Jake is short one very important thing…talent. Or is he? It’s up to Jake to either find the talent that lies within or embarrass himself in front of the entire school. Light and humorous, with Knight’s illustrations adding to the fun, Jake’s story will likely appeal to many middle-grade readers, especially those who might otherwise be reluctant to pick up a book. While the artsy antics may be over-the-top at times, this is a story about something that most preteens can relate to: the struggle to find your authentic self. And in a world filled with books about wanting to fit in with the athletically gifted supercliques, this novel unabashedly celebrates the artsy crowd in all of its quirky, creative glory.

A fast and funny alternative to the Wimpy Kid. (Fiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: March 28, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-553-52351-5

Page Count: 144

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: Dec. 6, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2016

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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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