The history and nature of the Ashton curse at least begins to move out of the shadows at last. Still, much else remains to...


From the Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place series , Vol. 4

Amid much mention of cake and iambic pentameter, the Swanburne Academy for Poor Bright Females survives a challenge thanks to its star graduate, nanny Penelope Lumley, and her three wolfish wards.

Invited on her 16th birthday to deliver an address to her school’s residents and sundry others at a Celebrate Alumnae Knowledge Exposition, Miss Lumley travels to her alma mater with young Alexander, Beowulf and Cassiopeia Incorrigible. There, she discovers that malign “Judge Quinzy,” disguised and purportedly dead father of her employer, Lord Frederick Ashton, has taken over the board of trustees and instituted a repressive regime that includes changing the school’s very name to the Quinzy School for Miserable Girls. Why? It seems he’s after a certain old diary that holds clues as to why the Ashton men have been howling at the full moon for generations. As in previous episodes, Wood threads a boisterous gaslamp melodrama with instructional references (here to poetic meters) and broad but inscrutable clues. These seem to link the Ashtons, the Incorrigibles and Miss Lumley herself in some still-mysterious way. As always, details thrill: The school vet, Dr. Westminster, is first met successfully teaching chickens to dance the hokeypokey.

The history and nature of the Ashton curse at least begins to move out of the shadows at last. Still, much else remains to be illuminated in future sequels, which fans will be howling for. (finished illustrations not seen) (Comic melodrama. 10-12)

Pub Date: Dec. 1, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-06-179122-2

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Sept. 14, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2013

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The magic of reading is given a refreshingly real twist.


This is the way Pearl’s world ends: not with a bang but with a scream.

Pearl Moran was born in the Lancaster Avenue branch library and considers it more her home than the apartment she shares with her mother, the circulation librarian. When the head of the library’s beloved statue of poet Edna St. Vincent Millay is found to be missing, Pearl’s scream brings the entire neighborhood running. Thus ensues an enchanting plunge into the underbelly of a failing library and a city brimful of secrets. With the help of friends old, uncertainly developing, and new, Pearl must spin story after compelling story in hopes of saving what she loves most. Indeed, that love—of libraries, of books, and most of all of stories—suffuses the entire narrative. Literary references are peppered throughout (clarified with somewhat superfluous footnotes) in addition to a variety of tangential sidebars (the identity of whose writer becomes delightfully clear later on). Pearl is an odd but genuine narrator, possessed of a complex and emotional inner voice warring with a stridently stubborn outer one. An array of endearing supporting characters, coupled with a plot both grounded in stressful reality and uplifted by urban fantasy, lend the story its charm. Both the neighborhood and the library staff are robustly diverse. Pearl herself is biracial; her “long-gone father” was black and her mother is white. Bagley’s spot illustrations both reinforce this and add gentle humor.

The magic of reading is given a refreshingly real twist.   (reading list) (Fantasy. 10-12)

Pub Date: Jan. 7, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4521-6952-1

Page Count: 392

Publisher: Chronicle Books

Review Posted Online: Aug. 26, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2019

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Readers will need to strap on their helmets and prepare for a wild ride.


Disaster overtakes a group of sixth graders on a leadership-building white-water rafting trip.

Deep in the Montana wilderness, a dam breaks, and the resultant rush sweeps away both counselors, the rafts, and nearly all the supplies, leaving five disparate preteens stranded in the wilderness far from where they were expected to be. Narrator Daniel is a mild White kid who’s resourceful and good at keeping the peace but given to worrying over his mentally ill father. Deke, also White, is a determined bully, unwilling to work with and relentlessly taunting the others, especially Mia, a Latina, who is a natural leader with a plan. Tony, another White boy, is something of a friendly follower and, unfortunately, attaches himself to Deke while Imani, a reserved African American girl, initially keeps her distance. After the disaster, Deke steals the backpack with the remaining food and runs off with Tony, and the other three resolve to do whatever it takes to get it back, eventually having to confront the dangerous bully. The characters come from a variety of backgrounds but are fairly broadly drawn; still, their breathlessly perilous situation keeps the tale moving briskly forward, with one threatening situation after another believably confronting them. As he did with Wildfire (2019), Newbery Honoree Philbrick has crafted another action tale for young readers that’s impossible to put down.

Readers will need to strap on their helmets and prepare for a wild ride. (Fiction. 10-12)

Pub Date: March 2, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-338-64727-3

Page Count: 208

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Nov. 27, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2020

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