A heroine to warm the heart and a mystery to chill the blood.

ERNESTINE, CATASTROPHE QUEEN

A young zombie enthusiast tries to bring about the apocalypse and uncovers a murder plot instead in Wyatt’s middle-grade debut.

Harriet the Spy meets Coraline in this horror romp starring almost-13-year-old Ernestine Montgomery. Intent on jump-starting the apocalypse and with a zombie survival guide already written, Ernestine, with the help of her white stepbrother Charleston, tries to raise the undead from a nearby cemetery. Plans are derailed a bit, however, with the attempted murder of their landlady, and the eccentric, “retired artists, both performing and otherwise” who share their apartment building are thrown under suspicion. Wyatt has created a bright, determined, and emotionally complex protagonist to join the illustrious roster of young mystery-solvers and monster-slayers: Ernestine barely blinks when tracking down a would-be homicidal maniac is added to her apocalyptic to-do list. Past trauma, a delicate mother-daughter relationship, and premeditated violence bring a balance of gravitas to the delightfully macabre narrative without slowing it down. Wyatt makes some awkward missteps in representation, overemphasizing the hair textures—and misbehavior—and skin tones of biracial Ernestine and her mother in comparison to brief eye- and hair-color descriptions for white characters such as Charleston. Despite this, the narrative will have readers asking for the sure-to-come sequel.

A heroine to warm the heart and a mystery to chill the blood. (Mystery. 9-12)

Pub Date: Aug. 7, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-316-47158-9

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Jimmy Patterson/Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: May 23, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2018

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

A smart, fresh take on an old favorite makes for a terrific series kickoff

THE GREAT SHELBY HOLMES

From the Shelby Holmes series , Vol. 1

A modern Sherlock Holmes retelling brings an 11-year-old black John Watson into the sphere of know-it-all 9-year-old white detective Shelby Holmes.

John's an Army brat who's lived in four states already. Now, with his parents' divorce still fresh, the boy who's lived only on military bases must explore the wilds of Harlem. His new life in 221A Baker St. begins inauspiciously, as before he's even finished moving in, his frizzy-haired neighbor blows something up: "BOOM!" But John's great at making friends, and Shelby certainly seems like an interesting kid to know. Oddly loquacious, brusque, and extremely observant, Shelby's locally famous for solving mysteries. John’s swept up in her detecting when a wealthy, brown-skinned classmate enlists their help in the mysterious disappearance of her beloved show dog, Daisy. Whatever could have happened to the prizewinning Cavalier King Charles spaniel? Has she been swiped by a jealous competitor? Has Daisy’s trainer—mysteriously come into enough money to take a secret weekend in Cozumel—been placing bets against his own dog? Brisk pacing, likable characters, a few silly Holmes jokes ("I'm Petunia Cumberbatch," says Shelby while undercover), and a diverse neighborhood, carefully and realistically described by John, are ingredients for success.

A smart, fresh take on an old favorite makes for a terrific series kickoff . (Mystery. 9-11)

Pub Date: Sept. 6, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-68119-051-8

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Review Posted Online: June 22, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2016

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

Pratchett-like worldbuilding centers immigrant kids in a story filled with culture, humor, and heart.

THE YEAR I FLEW AWAY

At home in Haiti, 10-year-old Gabrielle Marie Jean loves the rain, scary stories, beating the boys in mango-eating contests, and her family, most of all.

When her parents’ paperwork issues mean she must immigrate to the United States alone, every heavenly thing she believes about America can’t outweigh the sense of dread she feels in leaving everything she knows behind. A preternaturally sensitive child, Gabrielle feels responsible for not only her own success, but her whole family’s, so the stakes of moving in with her uncle, aunt, and cousins in Brooklyn are high—even before Lady Lydia, a witch, tries to steal her essence. Lydia makes her an offer she can’t refuse: achieving assimilation. Arnold skillfully fuses distinct immigrant experiences with the supernatural to express a universally felt desire for belonging. Gabrielle desperately wants to fit in despite the xenophobia she experiences every day and despite making new, accepting friends in Mexican American Carmen and Rocky the talking rat-rabbit. But in trying to change herself, Gabrielle risks giving Lydia the power to conquer Brooklyn. Gabrielle is a charming narrator, and of course, good guy (girl) magic wins out in the end, but the threat to immigrant lives and identities is presented poignantly nonetheless in this richly imaginative origin story of one Haitian American girl that offers a fantastical take on immigrant narratives.

Pratchett-like worldbuilding centers immigrant kids in a story filled with culture, humor, and heart. (Fiction. 9-12)

Pub Date: Feb. 2, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-358-27275-5

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Versify/HMH

Review Posted Online: Nov. 27, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2020

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet
more