A solid, worthwhile read.

READ REVIEW

LORD OF THE MOUNTAIN

With the birth of country music as his backdrop, a boy searches for music’s place in his troubled family.

Thirteen-year-old Nate Owen’s father, pastor of the Church of Consecrated Heaven and Satan’s on the Run (located in a tent on the empty lot next door), preaches relentlessly that music is a sin. Nate can’t understand why. There’s plenty of music in the Bible. Nate’s family has been broken since Nate’s sister died when Nate was only 2, and Nate wants out. It’s 1927. Nate lives in the divided town of Bristol, which straddles the Tennessee/Virginia state line. That summer a man from Victor Records comes to record mountain music for the very first time. Nate, captivated, can’t keep away. Gradually, and believably, he becomes friends with and then an employee of the soon-to-be-famous Carter family, musicians from nearby Scott County. The Carters and the fictional characters are white, but Lesley Riddle, a real black man who helped A.P. Carter find songs, makes an important contribution, helping readers understand that while Bristol’s downtown sign read “A Good Place to Live,” that was true only for white residents. Nate tells the story in retrospect, so his voice often reads older than 13, and sometimes Kidd can’t resist throwing in a bit too much of his research, but the real history melds seamlessly with Nate’s family story, and the emotions ring true through the hopeful but bittersweet end.

A solid, worthwhile read. (Historical fiction. 10-13)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-8075-4751-9

Page Count: 296

Publisher: Whitman

Review Posted Online: June 11, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2018

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A sly, side-splitting hoot from start to finish.

THE MECHANICAL MIND OF JOHN COGGIN

The dreary prospect of spending a lifetime making caskets instead of wonderful inventions prompts a young orphan to snatch up his little sister and flee. Where? To the circus, of course.

Fortunately or otherwise, John and 6-year-old Page join up with Boz—sometime human cannonball for the seedy Wandering Wayfarers and a “vertically challenged” trickster with a fantastic gift for sowing chaos. Alas, the budding engineer barely has time to settle in to begin work on an experimental circus wagon powered by chicken poop and dubbed (with questionable forethought) the Autopsy. The hot pursuit of malign and indomitable Great-Aunt Beauregard, the Coggins’ only living relative, forces all three to leave the troupe for further flights and misadventures. Teele spins her adventure around a sturdy protagonist whose love for his little sister is matched only by his fierce desire for something better in life for them both and tucks in an outstanding supporting cast featuring several notably strong-minded, independent women (Page, whose glare “would kill spiders dead,” not least among them). Better yet, in Boz she has created a scene-stealing force of nature, a free spirit who’s never happier than when he’s stirring up mischief. A climactic clutch culminating in a magnificently destructive display of fireworks leaves the Coggin sibs well-positioned for bright futures. (Illustrations not seen.)

A sly, side-splitting hoot from start to finish. (Adventure. 11-13)

Pub Date: April 12, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-06-234510-3

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Walden Pond Press/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2016

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It’s great to see these kids “so enthusiastic about committing high treason.” (historical note) (Historical fiction. 10-12)

THE CONSPIRACY

From the Plot to Kill Hitler series , Vol. 1

Near the end of World War II, two kids join their parents in a plot to kill Adolf Hitler.

Max, 12, lives with his parents and his older sister in a Berlin that’s under constant air bombardment. During one such raid, a mortally wounded man stumbles into the white German family’s home and gasps out his last wish: “The Führer must die.” With this nighttime visitation, Max and Gerta discover their parents have been part of a resistance cell, and the siblings want in. They meet a colorful band of upper-class types who seem almost too whimsical to be serious. Despite her charming levity, Prussian aristocrat and cell leader Frau Becker is grimly aware of the stakes. She enlists Max and Gerta as couriers who sneak forged identification papers to Jews in hiding. Max and Gerta are merely (and realistically) cogs in the adults’ plans, but there’s plenty of room for their own heroism. They escape capture, rescue each other when they’re caught out during an air raid, and willingly put themselves repeatedly at risk to catch a spy. The fictional plotters—based on a mix of several real anti-Hitler resistance cells—are portrayed with a genuine humor, giving them the space to feel alive even in such a slim volume.

It’s great to see these kids “so enthusiastic about committing high treason.” (historical note) (Historical fiction. 10-12)

Pub Date: April 21, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-338-35902-2

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Jan. 21, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2020

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