An excellent resource that will spark the imaginations of many readers.

BREAK THE SIEGE

MAKE YOUR OWN CATAPULTS

From the Tabletop Wars series

Everything you need to know to create your own tabletop medieval battlefields.

Readers interested in models, warfare, and construction will find lots to love in this volume, an instructional tome dedicated to helping readers build the best tabletop siege engines. Readers will learn how to build trebuchets, spring-armed catapults, blasting ballistas, and more. Young tinkerers will delight in poking through their recycling bins and junk drawers to find materials to build weaponry of all sorts. The materials are not exotic: paperclips, produce-bag netting, the occasional spork. The instructions are clean and clear, charmingly illustrated with a diverse array of child warriors, and smartly paced. Bits of history involving these war machines pop up here and there (“The balls [early catapults] fired could fell ranks of soldiers at a range of 1,300 feet (400 m)”), but the primary focus here is model-building technique. Readers are encouraged to use what they’ve learned and design their own weapons, with modifications as desired. For those delighted by the concept of tabletop warfare, three other titles offering instructions on how to develop the battlefield are concurrently published: Castle Attack, Ready, Aim, Launch!, and Surprise the Enemy. All three detail their subjects in similar fashion.

An excellent resource that will spark the imaginations of many readers. (index) (Nonfiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-5124-0638-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Hungry Tomato/Lerner

Review Posted Online: Aug. 30, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2016

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A deceptively simple, tender tale in which respect, resilience, and hope triumph.

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WISHTREE

Generations of human and animal families grow and change, seen from the point of view of the red oak Wishing Tree that shelters them all.

Most trees are introverts at heart. So says Red, who is over 200 years old and should know. Not to mention that they have complicated relationships with humans. But this tree also has perspective on its animal friends and people who live within its purview—not just witnessing, but ultimately telling the tales of young people coming to this country alone or with family. An Irish woman named Maeve is the first, and a young 10-year-old Muslim girl named Samar is the most recent. Red becomes the repository for generations of wishes; this includes both observing Samar’s longing wish and sporting the hurtful word that another young person carves into their bark as a protest to Samar’s family’s presence. (Red is monoecious, they explain, with both male and female flowers.) Newbery medalist Applegate succeeds at interweaving an immigrant story with an animated natural world and having it all make sense. As Red observes, animals compete for resources just as humans do, and nature is not always pretty or fair or kind. This swiftly moving yet contemplative read is great for early middle grade, reluctant or tentative readers, or precocious younger students.

A deceptively simple, tender tale in which respect, resilience, and hope triumph. (Fantasy. 8-12)

Pub Date: Sept. 26, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-250-04322-1

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Feiwel & Friends

Review Posted Online: Aug. 2, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2017

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A fresh premise, good pacing, surprising twists and engaging characters all combine to make this a series worth following.

MASTERMINDS

From the Masterminds series , Vol. 1

With no unemployment, no homelessness and no crime, Serenity, New Mexico, is the perfect town. Or is it?

When 13-year-old Eli Frieden attempts to bike past the town limits for the first time, he is struck with paralyzing nausea and pain that makes him wonder if Serenity is less of a paradise and more of a prison. When Malik Bruder, his classmate, discovers that the major employer, a traffic-cone factory, is just a front for something more sinister, the two boys, along with friends Hector Amani and Tori Pritel, decide to investigate. They find that Serenity, which holds honesty and integrity above all else, is built on a lie. The truth is so shocking that it puts into question everything they know, even their identities. The mystery is unraveled through several alternating first-person narratives. The distinctive voices of a cynic, a true believer, a hopeful optimist, a terrified tag-along and others create depth, while break-ins, theft, vandalism and an explosive car chase keep the pages turning. A cliffhanger ending points to at least one sequel.

A fresh premise, good pacing, surprising twists and engaging characters all combine to make this a series worth following. (Adventure. 8-12)

Pub Date: Feb. 3, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-06-229996-3

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Nov. 4, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2014

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