An imaginative adventure in a fully realized alternate world that young readers will surely want to visit.

Ethan Weiss and the City Between Two Rivers

A young hero exposes an evil plot in this sci-fi adventure set in an alternate version of New York City.

Ethan Weiss is an ordinary boy, although he lives in an America that not many people would recognize. Black (Zombie Scout, 2013) mixes the familiar with enough believably different details to create a convincing alternate world in which peacocks have overrun New York and two moons rise in the night sky. The characters are still relatable, however: Ethan is a lonely boy with few friends other than his neighbors; his mother, Rose; and his grandfather Simon. Ethan terribly misses his father, who died of an illness a few years ago, and dreams of seeing him again on his grandfather’s invention, the Psychokinetic Space Time Teletransporter—a television that shows scenes from the past. Before he can try to do so, though, Simon brings home a parrot named Churchill, the property of the city’s most powerful citizen. Churchill’s gift for gab has accidentally revealed a plot to “Enslave the city,” and Simon has bird-napped him so he can reveal the conspiracy to the authorities. But before he can, a gigantic wave rises up in the two rivers surrounding the city, cutting off any escape. Although the conspiracy may seem far-fetched, it launches an exciting escape plot. Despite a slight tendency toward wordiness, Black always keeps the action moving. Ethan, his grandfather, and a band of rebels evade soldiers in an underground cavern and try to fly over the frozen wave in an old-fashioned airship. As they try to get out of the city, the group witnesses atrocities reminiscent of the treatment of Jews during the Holocaust. This creates a sense of real danger, but some incidents—a mother and baby pursued by soldiers, the execution of an innocent man—may be disturbing to more sensitive readers. However, Black emphasizes the bravery of ordinary people when faced with the horrors of war. In the end, Ethan learns how critical family and friends are in overcoming adversity.

An imaginative adventure in a fully realized alternate world that young readers will surely want to visit.

Pub Date: April 15, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-9909367-4-9

Page Count: 266

Publisher: Luft Books

Review Posted Online: July 14, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2015

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A YA novel that treats its subject and its readers with respect while delivering an engaging story.



In the ninth book in the Bluford young-adult series, a young Latino man walks away from violence—but at great personal cost.

In a large Southern California city, 16-year-old Martin Luna hangs out on the fringes of gang life. He’s disaffected, fatherless and increasingly drawn into the orbit of the older, rougher Frankie. When a stray bullet kills Martin’s adored 8-year-old brother, Huero, Martin seems to be heading into a life of crime. But Martin’s mother, determined not to lose another son, moves him to another neighborhood—the fictional town of Bluford, where he attends the racially diverse Bluford High. At his new school, the still-grieving Martin quickly makes enemies and gets into trouble. But he also makes friends with a kind English teacher and catches the eye of Vicky, a smart, pretty and outgoing Bluford student. Martin’s first-person narration supplies much of the book’s power. His dialogue is plain, but realistic and believable, and the authors wisely avoid the temptation to lard his speech with dated and potentially embarrassing slang. The author draws a vivid and affecting picture of Martin’s pain and confusion, bringing a tight-lipped teenager to life. In fact, Martin’s character is so well drawn that when he realizes the truth about his friend Frankie, readers won’t feel as if they are watching an after-school special, but as though they are observing the natural progression of Martin’s personal growth. This short novel appears to be aimed at urban teens who don’t often see their neighborhoods portrayed in young-adult fiction, but its sophisticated characters and affecting story will likely have much wider appeal.

A YA novel that treats its subject and its readers with respect while delivering an engaging story.

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 2004

ISBN: 978-1591940173

Page Count: 152

Publisher: Townsend Press

Review Posted Online: Jan. 26, 2013

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A beautifully realized daydream; a fun yet thoughtful exploration of the complexities and possibilities hidden beneath...


In this debut middle-grade novel, a lonely boy finds friendship and learns about the magic of human connection.

Defined by the large mole on his lip, 10-year-old Gregory has grown distant from his family. He is friendless and withdrawn. Then one night a strange little creature emerges from Gregory’s mole. It is riding a (quite lovable) cockroach and can change size. This is the Grimbockle. The Grimbockle—one of many Bockles, who, like Palmer Cox’s Brownies, live at the peripheries of human awareness—tends to the exoodles that bind people together. Exoodles are long, transparent, noodlelike threads and are usually invisible. Once Gregory has his eyeballs painted with Carrot Juicy, though, he can see them. He joins the Grimbockle and the roach, traveling the exoodles as if on a high-speed roller coaster. Exoodles wither and die when people don’t look after their relationships. The Grimbockle is trying to repair a particularly sickly exoodle that links a boy to his mother. Can Gregory help—and can he mend the exoodles in his own life? Schubert follows delightedly in the footsteps of Roald Dahl, opening her unfortunate young protagonist’s eyes to a previously unseen world both weird and wondrous (yet for all its outlandish magic, oddly logical). The scenario is one of riotous imagination, while the Grimbockle himself—brought sweetly to life in black-and-white illustrations by Kraft—is a sprightly and good-natured little person, full of the type of singsong infelicities found in Dahl’s beloved nonhuman characters: “Is you ever seeing glimpses of squiggles in the corners of your twinklers but then they is disappearing in a snippety blink?” “ ‘Exoodles!’ shouted the Grimbockle in triumph. ‘Sometimes, hoo-mans is getting so twisty and wound up in extra exoodles that they is feeling gloomy blue and heavy all day long.’ ” The story is perhaps too much of a parable to fully match Dahl’s template; the adventure is safer and the threats less dark. Nonetheless, readers should fall willingly and with thrilled abandon into the fizzy, fanciful world of Gregory and his Grimbockle friend.

A beautifully realized daydream; a fun yet thoughtful exploration of the complexities and possibilities hidden beneath surface appearances.

Pub Date: Nov. 9, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-9911109-3-3

Page Count: 153

Publisher: New Wrinkle Publishing

Review Posted Online: Nov. 10, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2017

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