For series fans mostly; readers grabbed by the cover should go back to the beginning.

MUTATION

From the Cryptid Hunters series , Vol. 4

The cryptid hunters are back (Chupacabra, 2013, etc.), but this time they’re the hunted.

It’s only been a day since 13-year-old Marty O’Hara and his cousin Grace Wolfe (who he used to believe was his twin sister) rescued two baby dinosaurs and Grace herself from fake naturalist (and Grace’s grandfather) Noah Blackwood’s clutches. They are relatively safe with Grace’s father, actual naturalist and cryptid hunter Travis Wolfe, but they need to keep the hatchling dinosaurs out of Blackwood’s grasp and continue the hunt for Marty’s parents, who were lost in a helicopter crash over the jungles of Brazil. Grace, their school friend Luther and Wolfe head to a jaguar preserve with the hatchlings via helicopter while Marty, new friend Dylan and Wolfe’s partner, Ted, head there in a souped-up boat. But nefarious Blackwood and his paid minions are far from idle, and they have surprises both technological and historical for the young adventurers and their friends. The conclusion to Smith’s four-book series has some thrills, but key events of the denouement occur almost entirely off camera, so series fans don’t get to enjoy the villains’ comeuppance as they would probably like to. A huge cast list (thankfully summarized in a character list and series recap at the outset) and too many story threads undercut the action.

For series fans mostly; readers grabbed by the cover should go back to the beginning. (Adventure. 9-12)

Pub Date: Sept. 30, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-545-08180-1

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Aug. 12, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2014

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Entrancing and uplifting.

STAY

A small dog, the elderly woman who owns him, and a homeless girl come together to create a tale of serendipity.

Piper, almost 12, her parents, and her younger brother are at the bottom of a long slide toward homelessness. Finally in a family shelter, Piper finds that her newfound safety gives her the opportunity to reach out to someone who needs help even more. Jewel, mentally ill, lives in the park with her dog, Baby. Unwilling to leave her pet, and forbidden to enter the shelter with him, she struggles with the winter weather. Ree, also homeless and with a large dog, helps when she can, but after Jewel gets sick and is hospitalized, Baby’s taken to the animal shelter, and Ree can’t manage the complex issues alone. It’s Piper, using her best investigative skills, who figures out Jewel’s backstory. Still, she needs all the help of the shelter Firefly Girls troop that she joins to achieve her accomplishment: to raise enough money to provide Jewel and Baby with a secure, hopeful future and, maybe, with their kindness, to inspire a happier story for Ree. Told in the authentic alternating voices of loving child and loyal dog, this tale could easily slump into a syrupy melodrama, but Pyron lets her well-drawn characters earn their believable happy ending, step by challenging step, by reaching out and working together. Piper, her family, and Jewel present white; Pyron uses hair and naming convention, respectively, to cue Ree as black and Piper’s friend Gabriela as Latinx.

Entrancing and uplifting. (Fiction. 9-12)

Pub Date: Aug. 13, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-06-283922-0

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Katherine Tegen/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: April 10, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2019

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This can’t be the last we ever hear of the Legendary Alston Boys of the purely surreal Logan County—imaginative,...

THE LAST LAST-DAY-OF-SUMMER

From the Legendary Alston Boys series , Vol. 1

Can this really be the first time readers meet the Legendary Alston Boys of Logan County? Cousins and veteran sleuths Otto and Sheed Alston show us that we are the ones who are late to their greatness.

These two black boys are coming to terms with the end of their brave, heroic summer at Grandma’s, with a return to school just right around the corner. They’ve already got two keys to the city, but the rival Epic Ellisons—twin sisters Wiki and Leen—are steadily gaining celebrity across Logan County, Virginia, and have in hand their third key to the city. No way summer can end like this! These young people are powerful, courageous, experienced adventurers molded through their heroic commitment to discipline and deduction. They’ve got their shared, lifesaving maneuvers committed to memory (printed in a helpful appendix) and ready to save any day. Save the day they must, as a mysterious, bendy gentleman and an oversized, clingy platypus have been unleashed on the city of Fry, and all the residents and their belongings seem to be frozen in time and place. Will they be able to solve this one? With total mastery, Giles creates in Logan County an exuberant vortex of weirdness, where the commonplace sits cheek by jowl with the utterly fantastic, and populates it with memorable characters who more than live up to their setting.

This can’t be the last we ever hear of the Legendary Alston Boys of the purely surreal Logan County—imaginative, thrill-seeking readers, this is a series to look out for. (Fantasy. 10-12)

Pub Date: April 2, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-328-46083-7

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Versify/HMH

Review Posted Online: Jan. 15, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2019

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