From the Joshua Files series , Vol. 1

British-Mexican 13-year-old Josh Garcia has always been a fan of UFOs and conspiracy theories, but he never thought he’d find himself actually mixed up with both. He returns home from a boring day at school, however, to the news that his archeologist father has died in a plane crash over Mexico. Josh can’t believe the conclusions of the authorities: His father was killed by his mistress’s jealous husband. When that idea sends Josh’s mother to the psychiatric ward, Josh jets off to Central America with his best friend, Tyler, and Olivia, a 16-year-old blogging buddy. Unknown relatives, shady American intelligence agents and a living Mayan city all play a part in what turns out to be Josh’s destiny. The first of three already out in the United Kingdom, Harris’s American debut is a great idea in need of some good old-fashioned editing. Glacial pacing, characters without character and a blog that couldn’t be more fifth-wheel conspire against this tale of the impending Mayan-predicted apocalypse. A gee-whiz website, secret (crackable) alphabet and vigorous hand-selling might help this find an audience among patient thriller seekers. (Adventure. 12-14)

Pub Date: May 1, 2010

ISBN: 978-0-8027-2095-5

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Walker

Review Posted Online: Dec. 31, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2010

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After Hitler appoints Bruno’s father commandant of Auschwitz, Bruno (nine) is unhappy with his new surroundings compared to the luxury of his home in Berlin. The literal-minded Bruno, with amazingly little political and social awareness, never gains comprehension of the prisoners (all in “striped pajamas”) or the malignant nature of the death camp. He overcomes loneliness and isolation only when he discovers another boy, Shmuel, on the other side of the camp’s fence. For months, the two meet, becoming secret best friends even though they can never play together. Although Bruno’s family corrects him, he childishly calls the camp “Out-With” and the Fuhrer “Fury.” As a literary device, it could be said to be credibly rooted in Bruno’s consistent, guileless characterization, though it’s difficult to believe in reality. The tragic story’s point of view is unique: the corrosive effect of brutality on Nazi family life as seen through the eyes of a naïf. Some will believe that the fable form, in which the illogical may serve the objective of moral instruction, succeeds in Boyle’s narrative; others will believe it was the wrong choice. Certain to provoke controversy and difficult to see as a book for children, who could easily miss the painful point. (Fiction. 12-14)

Pub Date: Sept. 12, 2006

ISBN: 0-385-75106-0

Page Count: 224

Publisher: David Fickling/Random

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2006

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When Clara Luna, 14, visits rural Mexico for the summer to visit the paternal grandparents she has never met, she cannot know her trip will involve an emotional and spiritual journey into her family’s past and a deep connection to a rich heritage of which she was barely aware. Long estranged from his parents, Clara’s father had entered the U.S. illegally years before, subsequently becoming a successful business owner who never spoke about what he left behind. Clara’s journey into her grandmother’s history (told in alternating chapters with Clara’s own first-person narrative) and her discovery that she, like her grandmother and ancestors, has a gift for healing, awakens her to the simple, mystical joys of a rural lifestyle she comes to love and wholly embrace. Painfully aware of not fitting into suburban teen life in her native Maryland, Clara awakens to feeling alive in Mexico and realizes a sweet first love with Pedro, a charming goat herder. Beautifully written, this is filled with evocative language that is rich in imagery and nuance and speaks to the connections that bind us all. Add a thrilling adventure and all the makings of an entrancing read are here. (glossaries) (Fiction. 12-14)

Pub Date: Sept. 12, 2006

ISBN: 0-385-73343-7

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2006

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