A feel-good story with a tidy, happy ending.



In Halifax Harbour a 16-year-old girl with snow-cone–blue hair and a lip ring performs ballet to punk rock while she paints for the passing public.

After several noise complaints, performance artist Sydney Hart must pack up and say goodbye to her tips, her only source of income. Then an invitation to a speed-painting competition hosted by the prestigious art academy she attended before her mom lost her job offers Sydney a glimmer of hope. The Brush Off’s grand prize is full tuition and room and board, which would allow Sydney to return to the school. She’s willing to do whatever it takes to win, and that includes suppressing who she’s become—a creative performance artist who doesn’t look like the preppy academy student she was two years ago. Should she risk competing as the artist she is instead of the one the academy wants her to be? Sydney does her best work when she dances to loud music and makes a mess while she paints, a modus operandi that doesn’t jibe with the academy’s uptight, rigid constraints. In this brief novel, Sydney is frustratingly wishy-washy, going back and forth—during the course of the competition’s two days—between being who she is now and who she was when she fit in at the school. Her dark-skinned, pink-haired best friend, Lish, and competition rival Jorge comprise the white teen’s support system.

A feel-good story with a tidy, happy ending. (Fiction. 12-16)

Pub Date: Nov. 14, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4598-1358-8

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Orca

Review Posted Online: Aug. 2, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2017

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Despite its potential, though, it’s likely that the book will have limited appeal.


Goelman’s debut novel, part summer-camp tale, part ghost story and part murder mystery, is served with a sprinkling of math and a heavy dose of often-confusing Jewish orthodoxy.

Thirteen-year-old math and magic geek Dahlia reluctantly agrees to three weeks at a Jewish summer camp. There, the ghosts of two little girls visit her, and she begins to dream of David Schank, a young yeshiva student in New York in the 1930s. Soon, she realizes his spirit has possessed her; he is an ibur who needs her help to complete a task he began when alive. The novel alternates between David’s story, in which he first discovers and then fails to hide from the Illuminated Ones the 72nd name of God, and Dahlia’s, as she attempts to figure out what the ghosts and the spirit want and why the creepy caretaker won’t let any children into the camp’s overgrown hedge maze. A substantial cast of characters, multiple plot twists in both narrative storylines, some subplots that go nowhere, a golem, gematria or Jewish numerology, the cabala and more make this novel a challenging read. It’s certainly a refreshing change from the usual focus in middle-grade Jewish fiction on the Holocaust, immigrants and bar/bat mitzvahs, and the inclusion of a girl protagonist who loves math is also welcome.

Despite its potential, though, it’s likely that the book will have limited appeal. (Paranormal mystery. 12-15)

Pub Date: May 1, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-545-47430-6

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Levine/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: March 13, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2013

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Telepathic kids on futuristic skateboards fleeing G-men; a little too long but totally fun.


Four kids with inexplicable powers have a close encounter in a near-future Texas.

The Sardines just want to ride their glowboards, hang out in their clubhouse, and be left alone by the class bully. It’s been years since Component G—glow—was discovered in Callaway, and on the coasts the Global War is raging, but Callaway is just a regular American suburb. Regular, that is, except for the Sardines: Dani, Avery, and the twins, Bastian and Lola. The four best friends and passionate glowboarders discover something else they have in common: They can all hear one another’s thoughts and move things with their minds. The telekinesis and telepathy (or, as Dani says, “tele-whatevers”) are scary, but maybe it can help them win the big glowboarding championship! But the Sardines start to receive terrifying messages from outer space. Are aliens coming to destroy the Earth? Faux typescript interludes from the point of view of an unnamed stranger working with the government introduce a different menace, one the kids only slowly become aware of. The Sardines, from a variety of white ethnic backgrounds, need to win the race, escape the government, and prevent the destruction of the Earth. Easy peasy. The setup is so compelling that kids will keep going even though the pace doesn’t always live up to the page count.

Telepathic kids on futuristic skateboards fleeing G-men; a little too long but totally fun. (Science fiction. 12-13)

Pub Date: Jan. 21, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-368-04768-5

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion

Review Posted Online: Sept. 15, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2019

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