An appealing journey and a fascinating life.

This charming debut brings Alice Roosevelt to life when 13-year-old “first daughter” Audrey finds Alice’s century-old diary and turns to it for advice.

Audrey finds the White House to be more like a prison than a privilege, especially since her mom, the president, and her dad, a cancer researcher, find little time for her. Security concerns ruin her first party, and she has difficulty making friends at school. Poking around in a White House closet, Audrey finds a long-hidden diary that belonged to Alice Roosevelt, Theodore Roosevelt’s spirited oldest daughter, and discovers that Alice shared many of her problems. Alice was older and much more rebellious, keeping a garter snake in her bag and smoking on the White House roof; she famously said she wanted to “eat up the world.” Audrey adopts Alice as her role model, making a bracelet for herself with the initials WWAD: What Would Alice Do? Audrey’s efforts to imitate Alice, however, only land her in more hot water. Behrens invents a fictional Alice, as she reveals in her author’s note, and writes the diary entries in credible period prose that’s still accessible to modern readers. Audrey knows that she’s just a normal girl for all that she lives in the White House, making Audrey and the story nicely accessible.

An appealing journey and a fascinating life. (bibliography) (Fiction. 9-12)

Pub Date: Feb. 4, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4022-8642-1

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Sourcebooks Jabberwocky

Review Posted Online: Dec. 6, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2013


Ultimately, Burg’s lyrical prose will make readers think about the common ground among peoples, despite inevitable...

Melding the colors of heartache and loss with painterly strokes, Burg creates a vivid work of art about a girl grieving for her recently deceased mother against a Third World backdrop.

Clare is not speaking to her father. She has vowed never to speak to him again. Which could be tough, since the pair just touched down in Malawi. There, Clare finds herself struck by the contrast between American wealth and the relatively bare-bones existence of her new friends. Drowning in mourning and enraged at the emptiness of grief, Clare is a hurricane of early-adolescent emotions. Her anger toward her father crackles like lightning in the treetops. She finds purpose, though, in teaching English to the younger children, which leads her out of grief. Burg’s imagery shimmers. “The girl talks to her mother in a language that sounds like fireworks, full of bursts and pops. She holds her hand over her mouth giggling.... She probably has so many minutes with her mother, she can’t even count them.” Her realization of the setting and appreciation for the Malawian people are so successful that they compensate for Clare's wallowing, which sometimes feels contrived.

Ultimately, Burg’s lyrical prose will make readers think about the common ground among peoples, despite inevitable disparities. (Fiction. 9-12)

Pub Date: June 12, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-385-73471-4

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: March 20, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2012


Whether it’s because she would rather write stories alone than hang out with her gossiping classmates or because she lives in the Visconti House, a crumbling Italianate villa (which, everyone assumes, must be haunted), Year 8 Aussie Laura Horton always feels like an outsider. When Leon Murphy, a loner in his own right, moves in with his odd grandmother, Laura notices that they have more in common than she originally thought, including wanting to solve the mystery behind Mr. Visconti, his once-ornate house and the woman he loved. Debut author Edgar’s quiet, old-fashioned storytelling, in which the children can sound older than their years, celebrates curiosity, hidden treasures and impromptu gatherings with spirited and creative family members. In the process of ferreting out the secrets of Mr. Visconti and his formerly splendid estate (with written letters, interviews and intuition rather than the Internet), Laura also discovers friendship, romance and accepting the differences in herself and others. Fans of Blue Balliett and Elise Broach’s Shakespeare’s Secret (2005) will enjoy another puzzle to solve. (author’s note) (Mystery. 9-12)

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-7636-5019-3

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: Dec. 29, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2011