A fun, fast-paced thriller guaranteed to distract teens from Facebook for at least a little while.

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Assured Destruction

The real-world consequences of a teenage hacker’s online exploits threaten to bring down her family business in the first book of Stewart’s (Ruination, 2012, etc.) projected teen thriller series.

You can learn a lot about someone by looking through their hard drive. Sixteen-year-old Janus Rose and her divorced mother run Assured Destruction, a business that protects personal information by destroying computer hard drives in an industrial shredder in Ottawa. But no one knows that Janus, a talented hacker, has built an entire network she calls Shadownet from some of the identities she has illicitly collected. In a social network of sorts, each of the hard drives in Shadownet has become something of an alter ego of hers, and she’s come to see Shadownet as her own group of family and friends. When Janus begins to develop a crush on the newest addition to Shadownet and questions whether what she’s doing is right, bad things start happening to the real people whose hard drives Janus stole. It seems like too much of a coincidence not to suspect the unthinkable—Shadownet has been hacked. But by whom? If it gets out that Janus has been stealing hard drives, Assured Destruction will be ruined. She can’t go to the police or even tell her mother, but as things go downhill, it becomes clear that Janus is in over her head. Stewart seamlessly incorporates the fast-paced world of social media into a unique writing style that perfectly captures the world of a modern teen. Janus’ complicated web of computer networks is intricate enough to leave readers thoroughly engrossed by her hacking acumen while remaining accessible to even the least tech-savvy readers. Many teenage girl readers will find unconventional, strong Janus to be an intriguing role model, but as a clever, talented and often slightly dark hacker, she transcends gender stereotypes and will find fans among teen boy readers as well.

A fun, fast-paced thriller guaranteed to distract teens from Facebook for at least a little while.

Pub Date: March 22, 2013

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: 174

Publisher: Dog Ear Publisher

Review Posted Online: March 11, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2013

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Readers can still rely on this series to bring laughs.

WRECKING BALL

From the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series , Vol. 14

The Heffley family’s house undergoes a disastrous attempt at home improvement.

When Great Aunt Reba dies, she leaves some money to the family. Greg’s mom calls a family meeting to determine what to do with their share, proposing home improvements and then overruling the family’s cartoonish wish lists and instead pushing for an addition to the kitchen. Before bringing in the construction crew, the Heffleys attempt to do minor maintenance and repairs themselves—during which Greg fails at the work in various slapstick scenes. Once the professionals are brought in, the problems keep getting worse: angry neighbors, terrifying problems in walls, and—most serious—civil permitting issues that put the kibosh on what work’s been done. Left with only enough inheritance to patch and repair the exterior of the house—and with the school’s dismal standardized test scores as a final straw—Greg’s mom steers the family toward moving, opening up house-hunting and house-selling storylines (and devastating loyal Rowley, who doesn’t want to lose his best friend). While Greg’s positive about the move, he’s not completely uncaring about Rowley’s action. (And of course, Greg himself is not as unaffected as he wishes.) The gags include effectively placed callbacks to seemingly incidental events (the “stress lizard” brought in on testing day is particularly funny) and a lampoon of after-school-special–style problem books. Just when it seems that the Heffleys really will move, a new sequence of chaotic trouble and property destruction heralds a return to the status quo. Whew.

Readers can still rely on this series to bring laughs. (Graphic/fiction hybrid. 8-12)

Pub Date: Nov. 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4197-3903-3

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Amulet/Abrams

Review Posted Online: Nov. 19, 2019

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THE WONKY DONKEY

The print version of a knee-slapping cumulative ditty.

In the song, Smith meets a donkey on the road. It is three-legged, and so a “wonky donkey” that, on further examination, has but one eye and so is a “winky wonky donkey” with a taste for country music and therefore a “honky-tonky winky wonky donkey,” and so on to a final characterization as a “spunky hanky-panky cranky stinky-dinky lanky honky-tonky winky wonky donkey.” A free musical recording (of this version, anyway—the author’s website hints at an adults-only version of the song) is available from the publisher and elsewhere online. Even though the book has no included soundtrack, the sly, high-spirited, eye patch–sporting donkey that grins, winks, farts, and clumps its way through the song on a prosthetic metal hoof in Cowley’s informal watercolors supplies comical visual flourishes for the silly wordplay. Look for ready guffaws from young audiences, whether read or sung, though those attuned to disability stereotypes may find themselves wincing instead or as well.

Hee haw. (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: May 1, 2010

ISBN: 978-0-545-26124-1

Page Count: 26

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Dec. 29, 2018

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