A quick, sweet read.

READ REVIEW

THE THEORY OF HUMMINGBIRDS

Two friends learn to respect each other’s big ideas.

Twelve-year-old Alba’s club foot, aka Cleo, has always been “directionally challenged.” Cleo has often worn casts or braces; like the hummingbirds that fascinate her best friend, Levi, Alba has never run. But when the cast from Cleo’s final operation comes off, Alba plans to run in her school’s cross-country race. Levi, an “above average thinker” and Stephen Hawking fan, is distracted by what he believes is a wormhole in the school librarian’s office—and he doesn’t believe Alba can run. As the race approaches and Alba also notices the librarian’s odd disappearances, Alba and Levi must put aside their squabbles. The wormhole plot seems slightly juvenile for 12-year-olds, and characterization is somewhat uneven. Levi, who is white and has asthma, talks of little else but wormholes. Stubborn, self-conscious Alba, also white, is more sympathetic, particularly in her belief that running will earn her a place in “magical Normal Land.” Her goals occur in small steps, easing her into the difference between her dream and the reality without diminishing her accomplishments. Alba’s relationship with her single mother is touching, and the budding relationship between her mother and her doctor is awkward but optimistic. Alba’s narration is dotted with hummingbird facts, which Kadarusman—who had a club foot herself—explains in a glossary.

A quick, sweet read. (author’s note) (Fiction. 9-11)

Pub Date: Oct. 16, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-77278-027-7

Page Count: 160

Publisher: Pajama Press

Review Posted Online: Aug. 21, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2017

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However the compelling fitness of theme and event and the apt but unexpected imagery (the opening sentences compare the...

TUCK EVERLASTING

At a time when death has become an acceptable, even voguish subject in children's fiction, Natalie Babbitt comes through with a stylistic gem about living forever. 

Protected Winnie, the ten-year-old heroine, is not immortal, but when she comes upon young Jesse Tuck drinking from a secret spring in her parents' woods, she finds herself involved with a family who, having innocently drunk the same water some 87 years earlier, haven't aged a moment since. Though the mood is delicate, there is no lack of action, with the Tucks (previously suspected of witchcraft) now pursued for kidnapping Winnie; Mae Tuck, the middle aged mother, striking and killing a stranger who is onto their secret and would sell the water; and Winnie taking Mae's place in prison so that the Tucks can get away before she is hanged from the neck until....? Though Babbitt makes the family a sad one, most of their reasons for discontent are circumstantial and there isn't a great deal of wisdom to be gleaned from their fate or Winnie's decision not to share it. 

However the compelling fitness of theme and event and the apt but unexpected imagery (the opening sentences compare the first week in August when this takes place to "the highest seat of a Ferris wheel when it pauses in its turning") help to justify the extravagant early assertion that had the secret about to be revealed been known at the time of the action, the very earth "would have trembled on its axis like a beetle on a pin." (Fantasy. 9-11)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 1975

ISBN: 0312369816

Page Count: 164

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: April 13, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 1975

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Flimsily entertaining

THE SECRET OF WHITE STONE GATE

From the Black Hollow Lane series , Vol. 2

An American schoolgirl in a British boarding school battles a secret society in this adventure.

In this trope-y sequel to The Mystery of Black Hollow Lane (2019), the students at Wellsworth must stay safe from the evil order that’s been there for generations and still entangles their parents. Emmy, a white, well-to-do Connecticut 12-year-old, is determined to return to Wellsworth even though last year she was nearly killed. The Order of Black Hollow Lane, the mysterious bad guys who are disguised as the school’s Latin Society, want something from Emmy. Her long-lost father, for one, and Emmy’s box of medallions, for another. Why? Do they really need a reason aside from being an evil club full of wickedness determined to find a whole box of MacGuffins that will somehow make them even richer and more powerful or at least propel the plot? In any case the dastardly fiends plague Emmy, framing one of her best friends for theft and leaving cryptic notes and computer files to threaten the lives of Emmy’s loved ones. Though the Order has infiltrated this (nearly all-white, wealthy) school for generations, Emmy must somehow defeat them and save her dad. The quest is peppered with spy-thriller moments that are mostly only thinly sketched and go nowhere, though some (such as a disguise right out of Scooby Doo cartoons) are funny enough to keep the action moving.

Flimsily entertaining . (Adventure. 9-11)

Pub Date: March 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4926-6467-3

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Sourcebooks Young Readers

Review Posted Online: Oct. 27, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2019

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