This blend of history with mystery and fantasy with realism is a good find indeed.

SUMMER OF LOST AND FOUND

The mystery of the Lost Colony of Roanoke becomes an engaging backdrop for a preteen experiencing her own losses.

Nell Dare has her summer all planned: she’ll take tennis lessons with her BFF and stay with her writer father in their New York City apartment while her botanist mother works on the Outer Banks of North Carolina. When her ever quarreling parents separate suddenly and her father leaves without a goodbye, the white girl must give up her dreams and help her mother study the “Mother Vine,” the oldest cultivated grapevine in America, perhaps even known to the first English colonists. In her quiet yet evenly paced narration, the preteen meets two new friends, both also white. She’s drawn to Ambrose, a Colonial re-enactor from England whose own father left and hasn’t returned, and bristles against Lila, a know-it-all local-history buff who searches for ghost activity related to the Lost Colony. Hoping to best Lila, Nell teams up with Ambrose to discover Lost Colony clues and entice her father to return and write about them. Interspersed throughout are diary entries from a member of the Lost Colony. Mounting evidence offers possible connections to the Lost Colony’s fate and Ambrose’s otherworldly relation to the colonists. Readers will have fun realizing the author of the diary entries long before Nell.

This blend of history with mystery and fantasy with realism is a good find indeed. (author’s note, historical notes) (Fiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: May 24, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-4814-5896-2

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Aladdin

Review Posted Online: Feb. 17, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2016

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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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With Ivan’s movie out this year from Disney, expect great interest—it will be richly rewarded.

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THE ONE AND ONLY BOB

Tiny, sassy Bob the dog, friend of The One and Only Ivan (2012), returns to tell his tale.

Wisecracking Bob, who is a little bit Chihuahua among other things, now lives with his girl, Julia, and her parents. Happily, her father works at Wildworld Zoological Park and Sanctuary, the zoo where Bob’s two best friends, Ivan the gorilla and Ruby the elephant, live, so Bob gets to visit and catch up with them regularly. Due to an early betrayal, Bob doesn’t trust humans (most humans are good only for their thumbs); he fears he’s going soft living with Julia, and he’s certain he is a Bad Dog—as in “not a good representative of my species.” On a visit to the zoo with a storm threatening, Bob accidentally falls into the gorilla enclosure just as a tornado strikes. So that’s what it’s like to fly. In the storm’s aftermath, Bob proves to everyone (and finally himself) that there is a big heart in that tiny chest…and a brave one too. With this companion, Applegate picks up where her Newbery Medal winner left off, and fans will be overjoyed to ride along in the head of lovable, self-deprecating Bob on his storm-tossed adventure. His wry doggy observations and attitude are pitch perfect (augmented by the canine glossary and Castelao’s picture dictionary of dog postures found in the frontmatter). Gorilla Ivan described Julia as having straight, black hair in the previous title, and Castelao's illustrations in that volume showed her as pale-skinned. (Finished art not available for review.)

With Ivan’s movie out this year from Disney, expect great interest—it will be richly rewarded. (afterword) (Fiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: May 5, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-299131-7

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: March 25, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2020

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