DON’T TELL ANYONE

Twelve-year-old Megan Perk unwittingly becomes involved in a criminal’s plan to embezzle money from a construction company and is also the only eyewitness in a serious hit-and-run accident. The chain of events starts when softhearted Megan determines to save a group of feral cats that she discovers in an empty field near her house. Shane Turner is a convicted criminal who is embezzling money from his brother-in-law’s construction company. When he spots Megan hanging around the site of the company’s next project, he sees his whole plan of stealing even more money and then making a perfect getaway going up in smoke. Shane’s scheme requires that the construction project start right away—any busybody do-gooders interested in saving a bunch of worthless wild cats who might delay the start of the building will throw a serious wrench into the plan. As if things weren’t getting complicated enough, one day when Megan is feeding the cats, she hears a screech of brakes, horns blaring, and then sees the crash as a car and a minivan plow into each other. The story comes to a suspenseful climax involving a hot-air balloon, Megan’s abduction by Shane, followed by a daring escape, which she engineers. Megan’s relationship with her little sister is particularly well-handled: Kehret captures the annoyance the older sibling feels towards Kylie, as well as the guilt Megan feels when she knows she’s being mean to her sister. There are moments of compassion and empathy when Megan realizes that Kylie is a person with feelings, too. An absorbing and suspenseful novel with a strong female main character. (Fiction. 9-13)

Pub Date: June 1, 2000

ISBN: 0-525-46388-7

Page Count: 144

Publisher: Dutton

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2000

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Moving and poetic.

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PAX

A motherless boy is forced to abandon his domesticated fox when his father decides to join soldiers in an approaching war.

Twelve-year-old Peter found his loyal companion, Pax, as an orphaned kit while still grieving his own mother’s death. Peter’s difficult and often harsh father said he could keep the fox “for now” but five years later insists the boy leave Pax by the road when he takes Peter to his grandfather’s house, hundreds of miles away. Peter’s journey back to Pax and Pax’s steadfastness in waiting for Peter’s return result in a tale of survival, intrinsic connection, and redemption. The battles between warring humans in the unnamed conflict remain remote, but the oncoming wave of deaths is seen through Pax’s eyes as woodland creatures are blown up by mines. While Pax learns to negotiate the complications of surviving in the wild and relating to other foxes, Peter breaks his foot and must learn to trust a seemingly eccentric woman named Vola who battles her own ghosts of war. Alternating chapters from the perspectives of boy and fox are perfectly paced and complementary. Only Peter, Pax, Vola, and three of Pax’s fox companions are named, conferring a spare, fablelike quality. Every moment in the graceful, fluid narrative is believable. Klassen’s cover art has a sense of contained, powerful stillness. (Interior illustrations not seen.)

Moving and poetic. (Animal fantasy. 9-13)

Pub Date: Feb. 2, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-06-237701-2

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Oct. 19, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2015

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  • Newbery Honor Book

BECAUSE OF WINN-DIXIE

A 10-year old girl learns to adjust to a strange town, makes some fascinating friends, and fills the empty space in her heart thanks to a big old stray dog in this lyrical, moving, and enchanting book by a fresh new voice. India Opal’s mama left when she was only three, and her father, “the preacher,” is absorbed in his own loss and in the work of his new ministry at the Open-Arms Baptist Church of Naomi [Florida]. Enter Winn-Dixie, a dog who “looked like a big piece of old brown carpet that had been left out in the rain.” But, this dog had a grin “so big that it made him sneeze.” And, as Opal says, “It’s hard not to immediately fall in love with a dog who has a good sense of humor.” Because of Winn-Dixie, Opal meets Miss Franny Block, an elderly lady whose papa built her a library of her own when she was just a little girl and she’s been the librarian ever since. Then, there’s nearly blind Gloria Dump, who hangs the empty bottle wreckage of her past from the mistake tree in her back yard. And, Otis, oh yes, Otis, whose music charms the gerbils, rabbits, snakes and lizards he’s let out of their cages in the pet store. Brush strokes of magical realism elevate this beyond a simple story of friendship to a well-crafted tale of community and fellowship, of sweetness, sorrow and hope. And, it’s funny, too. A real gem. (Fiction. 9-12)

Pub Date: March 1, 2000

ISBN: 0-7636-0776-2

Page Count: 182

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2000

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