A neat, suspenseful mystery tailor-made for young readers. (Mystery. 10-14)

READ REVIEW

CLOSE TO THE HEEL

From the Seven (The Series) series

This exciting mystery-suspense novel takes readers to faraway Iceland.

Written as one of a set of seven linked novels to be released simultaneously, this story easily stands on its own. Seventeen-year-old Rennie has serious trouble getting along with his superstrict, military dad and has engaged in serious rebellion since his mom died. As the novel opens, Rennie finds himself close to death, stumbling alone through a massive field of snow and ice, waiting to freeze. Rennie’s grandfather has died, leaving a request that Rennie go to Iceland to memorialize the enigmatic woman who had saved him after a plane crash in World War II. There, he stays with teenage Brynja and her father and grandfather, the doctor who also helped Rennie’s grandfather. Brynja, responding to Rennie’s insolence, treats him with open hostility from the start. Rennie quickly learns that a murder mystery festers in the tiny village. As he learns more, he wonders if Brynja’s family members are victims or culprits. When he uncovers the first real evidence of murder, however, he becomes the next possible victim. McClintock writes with her usual simple prose that can appeal to a broad audience, scattering little clues for astute readers and highlighting Iceland’s interesting culture. Rennie’s defiant character will appeal to many reluctant readers, who may be moved to try another in the series.

A neat, suspenseful mystery tailor-made for young readers. (Mystery. 10-14)

Pub Date: Oct. 10, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-55469-950-6

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Orca

Review Posted Online: Aug. 8, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2012

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AKATA WITCH

Who can't love a story about a Nigerian-American 12-year-old with albinism who discovers latent magical abilities and saves the world? Sunny lives in Nigeria after spending the first nine years of her life in New York. She can't play soccer with the boys because, as she says, "being albino made the sun my enemy," and she has only enemies at school. When a boy in her class, Orlu, rescues her from a beating, Sunny is drawn in to a magical world she's never known existed. Sunny, it seems, is a Leopard person, one of the magical folk who live in a world mostly populated by ignorant Lambs. Now she spends the day in mundane Lamb school and sneaks out at night to learn magic with her cadre of Leopard friends: a handsome American bad boy, an arrogant girl who is Orlu’s childhood friend and Orlu himself. Though Sunny's initiative is thin—she is pushed into most of her choices by her friends and by Leopard adults—the worldbuilding for Leopard society is stellar, packed with details that will enthrall readers bored with the same old magical worlds. Meanwhile, those looking for a touch of the familiar will find it in Sunny's biggest victories, which are entirely non-magical (the detailed dynamism of Sunny's soccer match is more thrilling than her magical world saving). Ebulliently original. (Fantasy. 11-13)

Pub Date: April 14, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-670-01196-4

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: March 28, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2011

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Readers who don’t need endings tied up with tight little bows will find much to think about here.

INFINITE SKY

Tragedy emerges from the commonplace miseries of everyday life in this evocative mood piece.

Thirteen-year-old Iris lives with her dad and older brother, Sam, in rural England. Until recently, Iris and Sam had a mum as well, but she’s taken off to Tunisia on a mission to find herself. Now Sam’s associating with ruffians, Dad’s taken to drinking, and Iris is avoiding her best friend, unable to bear the smug pity. When a few caravans of Irish “travelers” squat illegally in Dad’s paddock, Iris sees the possibility of something fresh and untainted in her life. But Dad and Sam loathe the travelers, calling them “Gypsies,” “parasites” and worse. Iris strikes up a friendship—and maybe more?—with 14-year-old Trick, but her father becomes increasingly erratic as he sees his control over his family slipping away. Her Dad repeatedly threatens eviction, and Iris must decide whom to believe in the face of petty crime. A senseless act of violence leads to heavily foreshadowed tragedy. This brief, gloomy debut concludes tidily though with an unclear trajectory: After a summer’s adventure, everyone’s right where they started yet nothing’s the same, mirroring the intransigence of hate.

Readers who don’t need endings tied up with tight little bows will find much to think about here. (Fiction. 10-13)

Pub Date: May 27, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4814-0658-1

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Atheneum

Review Posted Online: March 12, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2014

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