LIAR & SPY

A seventh-grade boy who is coping with social and economic issues moves into a new apartment building, where he makes friends with an over-imaginative home-schooled boy and his eccentric family.

Social rules are meant to be broken is the theme of this bighearted, delightfully quirky tale, and in keeping with that, Stead creates a world where nothing is as it seems. Yet the surprises are meticulously foreshadowed, so when the pieces of the puzzle finally click in, the readers’ "aha" moments are filled with profound satisfaction. When an economic downturn forces Georges’ family to move out of their house and into an apartment, it brings Georges into contact with Safer, a home-schooled boy about the same age, and his unconventional but endearing family—and a mystery involving their possibly evil neighbor, Mr. X. At school, Georges must grapple with another type of mystery: why his once–best friend Jason “shrugged off” their lifelong friendship and suddenly no longer sits with him at lunch. Instead, Jason now sits at the cool table, which is controlled by a bully named Dallas, who delights in tormenting Georges. It would be unfair to give anything away, but suffice it to say that Georges resolves his various issues in a way that’s both ingenious and organic to the story.

Original and winning. (Fiction. 10-14)

Pub Date: Aug. 7, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-385-73743-2

Page Count: 208

Publisher: Wendy Lamb/Random

Review Posted Online: May 16, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2012

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GOLDEN GATE

From the City Spies series , Vol. 2

The City Spies return.

Like any good spy thriller, this second adventure with MI6’s young secret agents begins in the middle of a perilous mission: Agents Brooklyn, 12, and Sydney, 14, are stealthily escorting two daughters of high-ranking Brits on an shipboard marine biology program for girls, which turns out to be good luck because the ship has just been boarded by Norwegian pirates who plan to kidnap them for ransom. Brooklyn and Sydney thwart them handily and return to Scotland, where they attend school under assumed names while continuing their spy training at a facility hidden inside a climate research station. Before MI6 can give them a new mission, the whole group—Puerto Rican Brooklyn (nee Sara Maria Martinez), Rwandan French Paris (ne Salomon Omborenga), White Australian Sydney (nee Olivia Rose), Nepali Kat (nee Amita Bishwakarma), and Brazilian Rio (ne João Cardozo)—accidentally stumble upon two new missions on their own. First, they help track down the long-lost children of their leader, fondly called Mother even though he’s a man, and then they figure out the true story behind the suspicious California death of a retired MI6 agent and ornithologist. Combining their skills in areas like math, hacking, and sneaking around, the prodigies traverse the Western hemisphere looking for clues. The thriller is well paced, the characters animated, and the adventure engaging.

A winner. (spy profiles) (Mystery. 10-14)

Pub Date: March 9, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-5344-1494-5

Page Count: 432

Publisher: Aladdin

Review Posted Online: Dec. 15, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2021

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A fantastic, heartbreaking crescendo that echoes beyond the final page.

WILLA OF DARK HOLLOW

From the Willa of the Wood series , Vol. 2

A young Faeran girl puts everything on the line to save her home and the family she loves.

Emerging from the charred ruins of the Faeran forest lair, 13-year-old green-skinned, brown-haired Willa has formed a new family with humans who care about the Great Smoky Mountain as much as she does. Unfortunately, the Sutton Lumber Company has plans to clear the forest for railroad tracks. Her White adoptive father, Nathaniel, has become a leading voice against the destruction, making him a target. After he is arrested on suspicion of murdering loggers, Willa asks for help from her Faeran clan, but they blame her for the death of their leader and subsequent loss of their old home. Even the forest itself has grown hostile as strange, deathly cold creatures attack. Adelaide, a new blond, blue-eyed friend, and Hialeah, Nathaniel’s White and Cherokee daughter, join Willa in protecting the forest, clearing Nathaniel’s name, saving the Faeran, and unraveling the mystery of the malicious beasts. This duology closer is a captivating, stirring tale of family, friendship, the environment, and our place in the world. At every turn, Willa is faced with higher stakes and decisions that are even harder to make; the consequences of each choice weigh on her heart. The gorgeous prose and imagery of the mountains will inspire in readers a deep admiration for nature and support for Willa’s fight.

A fantastic, heartbreaking crescendo that echoes beyond the final page. (Fantasy. 10-14)

Pub Date: May 4, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-368-00760-3

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion

Review Posted Online: April 8, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2021

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