A sweet story about letting go and allowing life to lead the way.

READ REVIEW

THE 12 DARES OF CHRISTA

To say Christa Vasile loves Christmas is an understatement.

She always sets the Best Christmas Plan Ever into motion on Nov. 1, with the goal of outdoing the previous year’s celebration. This year’s excellence has already surpassed the others, as Christa and her parents will be going to Europe. But then her parents drop the bad news: they’re getting a divorce, and the “coppery”-skinned 13-year-old with “crazy-thick hair” and “eyes that crinkle up in the corners” (but no named race) and her similar-looking mother will go to Europe for some “mother-daughter time.” Christa’s actress mother will perform in venues throughout their trip, which means Christa has to join the “kid portion of [the] tour” with the other actors’ children: hyperexuberant Kylie, artist Sasha, Harry Potter superfan Owen, spiky-haired Logan, and cute hipster Colby. (Sasha is Asian; the rest appear to be white.) After Christa spies her mother making out with Kylie’s father, her hopes for a parental reunion go out like a candle in the wind. However, a surprise from her father lifts Christa’s spirits. He’s continuing their holiday scavenger hunt tradition with one dare for each of the 12 days of Christmas. The tasks encourage Christa to allow the unexpected to lead her to new and exciting places. Her first-person present-tense narration carries the story, and Burt does an excellent job of bringing the magic of Europe to life on the page.

A sweet story about letting go and allowing life to lead the way. (Fiction. 10-13)

Pub Date: Sept. 26, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-06-241618-6

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Katherine Tegen/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: June 27, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2017

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A sly, side-splitting hoot from start to finish.

THE MECHANICAL MIND OF JOHN COGGIN

The dreary prospect of spending a lifetime making caskets instead of wonderful inventions prompts a young orphan to snatch up his little sister and flee. Where? To the circus, of course.

Fortunately or otherwise, John and 6-year-old Page join up with Boz—sometime human cannonball for the seedy Wandering Wayfarers and a “vertically challenged” trickster with a fantastic gift for sowing chaos. Alas, the budding engineer barely has time to settle in to begin work on an experimental circus wagon powered by chicken poop and dubbed (with questionable forethought) the Autopsy. The hot pursuit of malign and indomitable Great-Aunt Beauregard, the Coggins’ only living relative, forces all three to leave the troupe for further flights and misadventures. Teele spins her adventure around a sturdy protagonist whose love for his little sister is matched only by his fierce desire for something better in life for them both and tucks in an outstanding supporting cast featuring several notably strong-minded, independent women (Page, whose glare “would kill spiders dead,” not least among them). Better yet, in Boz she has created a scene-stealing force of nature, a free spirit who’s never happier than when he’s stirring up mischief. A climactic clutch culminating in a magnificently destructive display of fireworks leaves the Coggin sibs well-positioned for bright futures. (Illustrations not seen.)

A sly, side-splitting hoot from start to finish. (Adventure. 11-13)

Pub Date: April 12, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-06-234510-3

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Walden Pond Press/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2016

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A busy if ultimately tidy wrap-up for fans.

WORLDS COLLIDE

From the Land of Stories series , Vol. 6

Witches and other fictional baddies move to conquer this world when a portal opens between the Land of Stories and a branch of the New York Public Library.

For the finale to his popular series, Colfer recaps the first five episodes, then brings together most of the teeming cast to wage, as the narrator admits, “an overdue battle of good versus evil.” Flanked by a wish-fulfilling frame story in which Conner, one of the white twin protagonists, has grown up to become a revered writer of middle-grade fantasies, the climactic struggle begins with the portal’s opening in the sumptuous Rose Reading Room. It spreads to Central Park and other locales as the then-teenager and allies fictional or otherwise (including a lot of ineffectual Marines) square off against his powerfully gifted sister, Alex, the dastardly witches who have ensorcelled her, and a Literary Army led by (among others) the head-chopping Queen of Hearts. Many set pieces ensue, from a pitched battle with gingerbread soldiers to no fewer than six individual witch-fairy duels in a row—not to mention gags and one-liners aplenty, topical references, and adolescent posturing (“Knock it off, boys,” Merlin snaps at one point, “there are much bigger issues in this story”). With one exception, characters who die bleed words instead of blood, and all of the destruction in both worlds is neatly fixed at the end by an albino dragon ( see Book 3: A Grimm Warning). Dorman’s vignettes at the chapter heads offer glimpses of settings and characters.

A busy if ultimately tidy wrap-up for fans. (foldout map of lower Manhattan) (Fantasy. 10-13)

Pub Date: July 11, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-316-35589-6

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Aug. 12, 2017

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