Goldblatt’s outstanding tale ponders a timeless, universal dilemma as a remarkable boy seeks to reconcile the heartbreak and...

FINDING THE WORM

From the Twerp series , Vol. 2

Goldblatt’s sequel to Twerp (2013) chronicles the momentous events of Julian’s seventh-grade year.

A friend’s devastating illness and a false accusation of vandalism upend Julian’s life. His friend Quentin’s diagnosis of a brain tumor occurs at a pivotal moment, just as he is preparing for his bar mitzvah. Julian seeks guidance from his rabbi about his struggles to comprehend life, heaven and God. Their conversations address the uncertainty and inequity of life’s fortunes and misfortunes. Goldblatt movingly depicts the steadfast friendship enjoyed by Julian’s group of pals as they support Quentin, deftly painting the small moments. In one, when the ailing Quentin asks to join in on a game of tag, it results in the spontaneous creation of “Piggyback Tag,” perfectly capturing the solidarity and joy of true friendships. Interwoven with his anxiety over Quentin’s illness is Julian’s evolving awareness that his past will always be a part of his present. After being blamed for vandalizing a student’s artwork, Julian must write an essay on citizenship for his principal. Although he initially resists, Julian’s essay becomes a distillation of his experiences, reflecting his growing understanding of life’s complexities. When Julian discovers a seemingly unbearable truth, he must summon the resolve to weather the trials life may deliver.

Goldblatt’s outstanding tale ponders a timeless, universal dilemma as a remarkable boy seeks to reconcile the heartbreak and uplift that punctuate his life. (Fiction. 11-14)

Pub Date: Feb. 10, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-385-39108-5

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: Dec. 6, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2014

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Narrow squeaks aplenty combine with bursts of lyrical prose for a satisfying adventure

THE GOOD THIEVES

A Prohibition-era child enlists a gifted pickpocket and a pair of budding circus performers in a clever ruse to save her ancestral home from being stolen by developers.

Rundell sets her iron-jawed protagonist on a seemingly impossible quest: to break into the ramshackle Hudson River castle from which her grieving grandfather has been abruptly evicted by unscrupulous con man Victor Sorrotore and recover a fabulously valuable hidden emerald. Laying out an elaborate scheme in a notebook that itself turns out to be an integral part of the ensuing caper, Vita, only slowed by a bout with polio years before, enlists a team of helpers. Silk, a light-fingered orphan, aspiring aerialist Samuel Kawadza, and Arkady, a Russian lad with a remarkable affinity for and with animals, all join her in a series of expeditions, mostly nocturnal, through and under Manhattan. The city never comes to life the way the human characters do (Vita, for instance, “had six kinds of smile, and five of them were real”) but often does have a tangible presence, and notwithstanding Vita’s encounter with a (rather anachronistically styled) “Latina” librarian, period attitudes toward race and class are convincingly drawn. Vita, Silk, and Arkady all present white; Samuel, a Shona immigrant from Southern Rhodesia, is the only primary character of color. Santoso’s vignettes of, mostly, animals and small items add occasional visual grace notes.

Narrow squeaks aplenty combine with bursts of lyrical prose for a satisfying adventure . (Historical fiction. 11-13)

Pub Date: Aug. 27, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4814-1948-2

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 26, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2019

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Rich, complex, and confidently voiced.

THE LINE TENDER

Lucy finds solace in her late mother’s passion for shark biology during a summer that brings a new grief.

First-person narrator Lucy and neighbor Fred are compiling a field guide to animals they find near their Rockport, Massachusetts, home. Lucy is the artist, Fred the scientist, and their lifelong friendship is only just hinting that it could become something more. Lucy’s mother, who died of a brain aneurysm when Lucy was 7, five years earlier in 1991, was a recognized shark biologist; her father is a police diver. When a great white is snagged by a local fisherman—a family friend—video footage of an interview with Lucy’s mother surfaces on the news, and Lucy longs to know more. But then another loved one dies, drowned in a quarry accident, and it is Lucy’s father who recovers the body—in their small community it seems everyone is grappling with the pain. Lucy’s persistence in learning about the anatomy of sharks in order to draw them is a kind of homage to those she’s lost. Most of the characters are white; a marine scientist woman of color and protégée of Lucy’s mother plays a key role. Allen offers, through Lucy’s voice, a look at the intersection of art, science, friendship, and love in a way that is impressively nuanced and realistic while offering the reassurance of connection.

Rich, complex, and confidently voiced. (Historical fiction. 11-14)

Pub Date: April 16, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-7352-3160-3

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Dutton

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2019

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