Few will make it to the monster’s first mention, nearly halfway through. (Horror. 9-12)


Is there a secret in the swamp that can cure all ills? Piper’s banking on it.

Piper Canfield wished for a baby sister when she learned her parents couldn’t have any more children. She promised to watch over the baby if it came. Miraculously, baby Grace arrived, and Piper has made good on her promise, but one lapse puts Grace in danger when a rabid wolverine threatens her in her bassinet while the family is camping. Grace is fine, but Piper blames her best friend, Tad, and freezes him out. She starts running with the popular, pretty crowd until baby Grace comes down with Alpers syndrome, a virtual death sentence…and Tad suggests they use his ancestor’s notes to search the Okefenokee Swamp for a fabled silver flower that cures all diseases. Piper, Tad, Monty (aka Creeper, Piper’s little brother) and swamp-boat driver Perch head out on what they think will be a one-day excursion, but the wildlife is attacking when it shouldn’t—and something deeper in the swamp is even more dangerous. Readers drawn in by the Goosebumps-like cover will quickly set aside Lettrick’s second animals-attack tale (Frenzy, 2014). The kid characters have an unfortunate tendency to speak like college professors, hampering their development significantly. Also hindering the story’s effectiveness are interspersed excerpts from Tad’s ancestor’s 19th-century diary, rendered in florid prose.

Few will make it to the monster’s first mention, nearly halfway through. (Horror. 9-12)

Pub Date: April 21, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-4231-8695-3

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion

Review Posted Online: Feb. 3, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2015

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A quick, agreeable caper, this may spark some discussion even as it entertains.


Myla and Peter step into the path of a gang when they unite forces to find Peter’s runaway brother, Randall.

As they follow the graffiti tags that Randall has been painting in honor of the boys’ deceased father, they uncover a sinister history involving stolen diamonds, disappearances, and deaths. It started long ago when the boys’ grandmother, a diamond-cutter, partnered with the head of the gang. She was rumored to have hidden his diamonds before her suspicious death, leaving clues to their whereabouts. Now everyone is searching, including Randall. The duo’s collaboration is initially an unwilling one fraught with misunderstandings. Even after Peter and Myla bond over being the only people of color in an otherwise white school (Myla is Indian-American; mixed-race Peter is Indian, African-American, and white), Peter can’t believe the gang is after Myla. But Myla possesses a necklace that holds a clue. Alternating first-person chapters allow peeks into how Myla, Peter, and Randall unravel the story and decipher clues. Savvy readers will put the pieces together, too, although false leads and red herrings are cleverly interwoven. The action stumbles at times, but it takes place against the rich backdrops of gritty New York City and history-laden Dobbs Ferry and is made all the more colorful by references to graffiti art and parkour.

A quick, agreeable caper, this may spark some discussion even as it entertains. (Mystery. 10-12)

Pub Date: May 30, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4197-2296-7

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Amulet/Abrams

Review Posted Online: Feb. 20, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2017

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Fluid prose elucidates a life much stranger than fiction.


MacColl's second novel brings to life the childhood of future aviator and writer Beryl Markham (Prisoners in the Palace, 2010).

Born Beryl Clutterbuck, she moved with her family to the highlands of Kenya as a toddler. Not long after, her mother and brother returned to England, abandoning her with her rough though loving father. MacColl's account begins when a leopard steals into Beryl's hut and attacks her dog—the child leaping from her bed to give chase. Though she loses the leopard in the night, the next morning, she and her new friend, a Nandi boy, Kibii, find the dog still alive and save it. Later she insists on being part of the hunt for the leopard. Young Beryl wants nothing more than to be a warrior, a murani, and to be able to leap higher than her own head. Her jumping skills progress apace, but young white girls, no matter how determined, cannot become part of the Nandi tribe. Her relationship with Kibii's father, the wise Arap Maina, along with a growing awareness of the consequences of her actions, help lead her into a more mature—though still wildly impulsive and daring—life. MacColl intersperses her third-person narrative with faux news reports and first-person diary entries of two decades later, when Beryl Markham became the first person—let alone woman—to fly a plane west from Europe to America.

Fluid prose elucidates a life much stranger than fiction. (Historical fiction. 9-12)

Pub Date: Nov. 2, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-8118-7625-4

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Chronicle Books

Review Posted Online: Sept. 14, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2011

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