A moving, atmospheric journey of hope.

WILLA OF THE WOOD

From the Willa of the Wood series , Vol. 1

The old sourwood trees, the rushing streams and rivers, and the great mountain are home to 12-year-old Willa.

She and her mamaw live in Dead Hollow with hundreds of her dwindling Faeran clan. Ruled over by their fearsome leader and god, the padaran, the Faeran are a woodland race who once numbered in the thousands, living on the Smoky Mountain as stewards of the forest. Under the rule of the padaran, the old ways of speaking to animals and plants, foraging and caretaking, and using the old language are forbidden. Instead, Faeran children are forced to speak Eng-lish and drafted into his fearsome army of trained hunter-thieves called jaetters, who must steal from the day-folk, or white homesteaders. One night, Willa breaks into a homesteader’s cabin and is badly wounded. When the human man sees that she’s so gravely hurt, he tries to help—to her shock. Willa flees to Dead Hollow, where she is shocked to discover a young Cherokee boy along with many other human children imprisoned. As she sets out to unravel this mystery, she grows to understand the power of individual choice and of standing up for what’s right. Beatty writes a close third-person narration from Willa’s perspective, allowing readers to see the various humans she encounters through her eyes: the Cherokee the Faeran predated but live peacefully alongside; the day-folk the jaetters steal from; and the loggers and developers who do violence to them all—and with whom the padaran has more in common than he should.

A moving, atmospheric journey of hope. (Fantasy. 10-14)

Pub Date: July 10, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-368-00584-5

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion

Review Posted Online: June 17, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2018

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Poignant, respectful, and historically accurate while pulsating with emotional turmoil, adventure, and suspense.

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  • New York Times Bestseller

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REFUGEE

In the midst of political turmoil, how do you escape the only country that you’ve ever known and navigate a new life? Parallel stories of three different middle school–aged refugees—Josef from Nazi Germany in 1938, Isabel from 1994 Cuba, and Mahmoud from 2015 Aleppo—eventually intertwine for maximum impact.

Three countries, three time periods, three brave protagonists. Yet these three refugee odysseys have so much in common. Each traverses a landscape ruled by a dictator and must balance freedom, family, and responsibility. Each initially leaves by boat, struggles between visibility and invisibility, copes with repeated obstacles and heart-wrenching loss, and gains resilience in the process. Each third-person narrative offers an accessible look at migration under duress, in which the behavior of familiar adults changes unpredictably, strangers exploit the vulnerabilities of transients, and circumstances seem driven by random luck. Mahmoud eventually concludes that visibility is best: “See us….Hear us. Help us.” With this book, Gratz accomplishes a feat that is nothing short of brilliant, offering a skillfully wrought narrative laced with global and intergenerational reverberations that signal hope for the future. Excellent for older middle grade and above in classrooms, book groups, and/or communities looking to increase empathy for new and existing arrivals from afar.

Poignant, respectful, and historically accurate while pulsating with emotional turmoil, adventure, and suspense. (maps, author’s note) (Historical fiction. 10-14)

Pub Date: July 25, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-545-88083-1

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: May 10, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2017

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Is this the end? Well, no…the series will stagger on through at least one more scheduled sequel.

CAPTAIN UNDERPANTS AND THE TERRIFYING RETURN OF TIPPY TINKLETROUSERS

From the Captain Underpants series , Vol. 9

Sure signs that the creative wells are running dry at last, the Captain’s ninth, overstuffed outing both recycles a villain (see Book 4) and offers trendy anti-bullying wish fulfillment.

Not that there aren’t pranks and envelope-pushing quips aplenty. To start, in an alternate ending to the previous episode, Principal Krupp ends up in prison (“…a lot like being a student at Jerome Horwitz Elementary School, except that the prison had better funding”). There, he witnesses fellow inmate Tippy Tinkletrousers (aka Professor Poopypants) escape in a giant Robo-Suit (later reduced to time-traveling trousers). The villain sets off after George and Harold, who are in juvie (“not much different from our old school…except that they have library books here.”). Cut to five years previous, in a prequel to the whole series. George and Harold link up in kindergarten to reduce a quartet of vicious bullies to giggling insanity with a relentless series of pranks involving shaving cream, spiders, effeminate spoof text messages and friendship bracelets. Pilkey tucks both topical jokes and bathroom humor into the cartoon art, and ups the narrative’s lexical ante with terms like “pharmaceuticals” and “theatrical flair.” Unfortunately, the bullies’ sad fates force Krupp to resign, so he’s not around to save the Earth from being destroyed later on by Talking Toilets and other invaders…

Is this the end? Well, no…the series will stagger on through at least one more scheduled sequel. (Fantasy. 10-12)

Pub Date: Aug. 28, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-545-17534-0

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: June 20, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2012

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