MONKEY TOWN

THE SUMMER OF THE SCOPES TRIAL

Drawing incidents, dialogue and all but a few minor members of the cast from the historical record, Kidd views the Scopes trial through the eyes of a teenaged local—weaving in a thoughtful coming-of-age tale in the process. Nursing both a strong crush on handsome teacher/coach “Johnny” Scopes and a conviction that the sun rises and sets on her businessman father, Frances rides an emotional roller coaster as the trial—engineered by her father and some cronies as a publicity stunt, with the reluctant cooperation of Scopes—quickly turns into a circus, with undertones of hostility and violence coming to the fore. Frances meets all the major players—hard-bitten journalist H.L. Mencken, for instance, coming across as particularly complex and memorable—and gradually comes to realize that the world is not as simple as she had always thought: “There are lots of people out there,” she tells her father. “They don’t believe the same things we do.” Readers who found Jen Bryant’s novel-in-poems The Trial (2004) (which is built around another notorious American trial but shares many of the same themes and plot points) superficial will be pleased by the depth of character and ideas here. (afterword) (Fiction. 11-13)

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2006

ISBN: 1-4169-0572-3

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2005

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AKATA WITCH

Who can't love a story about a Nigerian-American 12-year-old with albinism who discovers latent magical abilities and saves the world? Sunny lives in Nigeria after spending the first nine years of her life in New York. She can't play soccer with the boys because, as she says, "being albino made the sun my enemy," and she has only enemies at school. When a boy in her class, Orlu, rescues her from a beating, Sunny is drawn in to a magical world she's never known existed. Sunny, it seems, is a Leopard person, one of the magical folk who live in a world mostly populated by ignorant Lambs. Now she spends the day in mundane Lamb school and sneaks out at night to learn magic with her cadre of Leopard friends: a handsome American bad boy, an arrogant girl who is Orlu’s childhood friend and Orlu himself. Though Sunny's initiative is thin—she is pushed into most of her choices by her friends and by Leopard adults—the worldbuilding for Leopard society is stellar, packed with details that will enthrall readers bored with the same old magical worlds. Meanwhile, those looking for a touch of the familiar will find it in Sunny's biggest victories, which are entirely non-magical (the detailed dynamism of Sunny's soccer match is more thrilling than her magical world saving). Ebulliently original. (Fantasy. 11-13)

Pub Date: April 14, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-670-01196-4

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: March 28, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2011

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GHOST CANOE

Hobbs (Beardream, p. 462, etc.), setting his novel on Washington's Cape Flattery in 1874, presents a hero who not only has the intelligence to solve a murder, but the resources to help bring a killer to justice. Nathan MacAllister, 14, has a fairly exciting life as a de facto assistant lighthouse keeper to his father, retired Captain Zachary MacAllister. When not tending the lighthouse, Nathan looks after his sick mother and fishes with a friend, Lighthouse George, a Makah fisherman. When a sailing ship, the L.S. Burnaby, crashes on the rocks near the lighthouse, and the captain's murdered body washes ashore, Nathan becomes an amateur sleuth. At first, he believes (as the Makah do) that an evil spirit is at work, but certain events—his neighbor, Captain Bim, burying a treasure box at night, the discovery of a skeleton in a Makah canoe hanging in the treetops, the appearance of a charismatic yet strange new shopkeeper, Mr. Kane—lead Nathan to sensibly conclude that the mystery has more to do with real people than ghosts. While the mystery is compelling, it is Hobbs's deft weaving of Makah culture into the story that resonates, from their harvesting of wood without cutting any trees to their generosity to friends. A robust adventure in an intriguing setting. (map) (Fiction. 11-13)

Pub Date: April 1, 1997

ISBN: 0-688-14193-5

Page Count: 195

Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 1997

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