An equally wholesome and amusing tale that celebrates friendship, nature, and curious inquiry.

OXBOW ISLAND GANG: LOBSTER GRAVEYARD

In this middle-grade novel, a boy works with friends to investigate illegally caught lobsters.

Last September, Berend “Bear” Houtman stayed with his grandmother on Oxbow Island (near Portland, Maine) while he was suspended from sixth grade; he redeemed himself by helping to catch a poacher. This year, with Halloween approaching, Bear has gotten permission to carry out an ocean research project there. He also hopes to build a record-setting pumpkin pyramid, but for both projects, Bear runs into problems figuring out the proper equipment and procedures. For the science part, many recommend he ask Hiram Wiley, a battered old lobsterman and “practically an oceanographer.” But Bear feels uncomfortable around Hiram after he warned Bear about an especially large lobster claw he’d found: “Never tell anyone about that. Never. Do you hear me?” But more claws from lobsters that should have been thrown back keep turning up, indicating someone’s been catching them illegally, so Bear—wondering whom to trust—investigates with his friend Olivia Anaya, also a seventh grader. Whether building a pyramid, catching illegal lobster catchers, or thwarting Olivia’s sexist, racist track-team coach, the quirky island community comes together to make things right. As in her first novel, Chalmers conjures up the warmth, charm, and eccentricity of Oxbow Island’s widely diverse but close-knit residents (plus some Portlanders). It’s heartening to see how they creatively rally round each other again and again for problem-solving and protection. Chalmers also makes math and science attractive, as with Bear’s increasing enthusiasm for his project or when calculating how many pumpkins are needed for a pyramid. A satisfying conclusion ties things up. Hogan contributes monochrome chapter-head illustrations that reflect the island’s appeal and quirky characters.

An equally wholesome and amusing tale that celebrates friendship, nature, and curious inquiry.

Pub Date: N/A

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: 209

Publisher: Maine Authors Publishing

Review Posted Online: Dec. 29, 2020

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A sly, side-splitting hoot from start to finish.

THE MECHANICAL MIND OF JOHN COGGIN

The dreary prospect of spending a lifetime making caskets instead of wonderful inventions prompts a young orphan to snatch up his little sister and flee. Where? To the circus, of course.

Fortunately or otherwise, John and 6-year-old Page join up with Boz—sometime human cannonball for the seedy Wandering Wayfarers and a “vertically challenged” trickster with a fantastic gift for sowing chaos. Alas, the budding engineer barely has time to settle in to begin work on an experimental circus wagon powered by chicken poop and dubbed (with questionable forethought) the Autopsy. The hot pursuit of malign and indomitable Great-Aunt Beauregard, the Coggins’ only living relative, forces all three to leave the troupe for further flights and misadventures. Teele spins her adventure around a sturdy protagonist whose love for his little sister is matched only by his fierce desire for something better in life for them both and tucks in an outstanding supporting cast featuring several notably strong-minded, independent women (Page, whose glare “would kill spiders dead,” not least among them). Better yet, in Boz she has created a scene-stealing force of nature, a free spirit who’s never happier than when he’s stirring up mischief. A climactic clutch culminating in a magnificently destructive display of fireworks leaves the Coggin sibs well-positioned for bright futures. (Illustrations not seen.)

A sly, side-splitting hoot from start to finish. (Adventure. 11-13)

Pub Date: April 12, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-06-234510-3

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Walden Pond Press/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2016

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A thrilling conclusion to a beautifully crafted, heart-stopping trilogy.

THRIVE

From the Overthrow series , Vol. 3

This is the moment teens Seth, Anaya, and Petra have both been anticipating and dreading ever since aliens called cryptogens began attempting to colonize the Earth: the chance to defend their planet.

In an earlier volume, Seth, Anaya, and Petra began growing physical characteristics that made them realize they were half alien. Seth has wings, Petra has a tail, and Anaya has fur. They also have the power of telepathy, which Anaya uses to converse with Terra, a cryptogen rebel looking for human allies who could help stop the invasion of Earth. Terra plans to use a virus stored in the three teens’ bodies to disarm the flyers, which are the winged aliens that are both masterminding the invasion and enslaving the other species of cryptogens known as swimmers and runners. But Terra and her allies can’t pull any of this off without the help of Anaya, Seth, and Petra. Although the trio is anxious about their abilities, they don’t have much of a choice—the entire human race is depending on them for salvation. Like its predecessors, this trilogy closer is fast-paced and well structured. Despite its post-apocalyptic setting, the story is fundamentally character driven, and it is incredibly satisfying to watch each protagonist overcome their inner battles within the context of the larger human-alien war. Main characters read as White.

A thrilling conclusion to a beautifully crafted, heart-stopping trilogy. (Science fiction. 11-14)

Pub Date: May 4, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-984894-80-9

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: Feb. 9, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2021

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