Light on mystery but strong on adventure and heart.

SLIDE

From the Seven Prequels series

Fourteen-year-old Rennie accompanies his grandmother on a ski trip and uncovers a murder plot.

When Rennie’s strict father announces that he has asked Rennie’s grandmother to babysit while he is out of town, the white boy is ecstatic. His military father has always been exacting, but after Rennie’s mother died, everything got turned up a notch. Spending time on the slopes with his adventurous grandmother ends up being just what Rennie needs to start healing from the feelings of guilt and grief that have haunted him ever since his mother’s death. Things look even better when he meets Annie, a beautiful Indian-American resort employee. Unfortunately, Annie is four years older and Harvard bound. She also is dating Derek, a handsome and arrogant white man. But when Annie’s uncle arrives from India, claiming that she needs to return with him, Annie suspects he has his sights set on her trust fund. Rennie learns that Uncle Raj will do anything to put his hands on the money. This is more a story of unrequited love and adventure than a mystery. However, that does not diminish its power. Rennie’s struggles with his father and his grief over the loss of his mother will resonate with many readers.

Light on mystery but strong on adventure and heart. (Mystery. 9-12)

Pub Date: Sept. 20, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-4598-1167-6

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Orca

Review Posted Online: July 2, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2016

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Poet Alexander deftly reveals the power of the format to pack an emotional punch.

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THE CROSSOVER

Basketball-playing twins find challenges to their relationship on and off the court as they cope with changes in their lives.

Josh Bell and his twin, Jordan, aka JB, are stars of their school basketball team. They are also successful students, since their educator mother will stand for nothing else. As the two middle schoolers move to a successful season, readers can see their differences despite the sibling connection. After all, Josh has dreadlocks and is quiet on court, and JB is bald and a trash talker. Their love of the sport comes from their father, who had also excelled in the game, though his championship was achieved overseas. Now, however, he does not have a job and seems to have health problems the parents do not fully divulge to the boys. The twins experience their first major rift when JB is attracted to a new girl in their school, and Josh finds himself without his brother. This novel in verse is rich in character and relationships. Most interesting is the family dynamic that informs so much of the narrative, which always reveals, never tells. While Josh relates the story, readers get a full picture of major and minor players. The basketball action provides energy and rhythm for a moving story.

Poet Alexander deftly reveals the power of the format to pack an emotional punch. (Verse fiction. 9-12)

Pub Date: March 18, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-544-10771-7

Page Count: 240

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: Dec. 18, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2014

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NIGHTBIRD

There’s a monster in Sidwell, Massachusetts, that can only be seen at night or, as Twig reveals, if passersby are near her house.

It’s her older brother, James, born with wings just like every male in the Fowler line for the last 200 years. They were cursed by the Witch of Sidwell, left brokenhearted by their forebear Lowell Fowler. Twig and James are tired of the secret and self-imposed isolation. Lonely Twig narrates, bringing the small town and its characters to life, intertwining events present and past, and describing the effects of the spell on her fractured family’s daily life. Longing for some normalcy and companionship, she befriends new-neighbor Julia while James falls in love with Julia’s sister, Agate—only to learn they are descendants of the Witch. James and Agate seem as star-crossed as their ancestors, especially when the townspeople attribute a spate of petty thefts and graffiti protesting the development of the woods to the monster and launch a hunt. The mix of romance and magic is irresistible and the tension, compelling. With the help of friends and through a series of self-realizations and discoveries, Twig grows more self-assured. She is certain she knows how to change the curse. In so doing, Twig not only changes James’ fate, but her own, for the first time feeling the fullness of family, friends and hope for the future.

Enchanting. (Magical realism. 9-12)

Pub Date: March 10, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-385-38958-7

Page Count: 208

Publisher: Wendy Lamb/Random

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2015

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