An action-oriented closer, conventionally tidy at the end but distinctive for its richly imagined world.


From the NewsPrints series , Vol. 2

Rounding off a tale begun in NewsPrints (2017), budding journalist Blue continues to search for her robotic friend, Crow, as the long war between Goswing and Grimmaea comes to a head.

Just 17 and blind, but determined not to appear weak, Corazana Lina, newly crowned queen of Goswing, lays a fresh claim to mines needed to fuel her rapidly growing fleet of flying warships. But as Grimmaea is building an air force of its own and the mines’ range is also home to a cluster of active volcanoes, widespread disaster looms…and, ultimately, strikes. Meanwhile Blue, caught between opposing armies and monarchs, weathers a rapid succession of dramatic encounters and narrow squeaks as she brings her quest to a successful conclusion at last. Exaggerated facial expressions occasionally give the figures in Xu’s bordered panels an artificially stylized, manga-esque look, but the action is easy to follow, and sharply rendered background details add depth and detail to the steampunk-ish setting. The author weaves a strong anti-war message through her tale, casting righteous shade on the evil, which both sides here practice, of recruiting children for military service and playing up the importance of an independent press. Though a bit unwieldy, her populous cast features several characters with mixed ancestry (including Blue), a trans character, and one that is constructed but human in all the ways that count.

An action-oriented closer, conventionally tidy at the end but distinctive for its richly imagined world. (Graphic science fiction. 11-13)

Pub Date: Jan. 29, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-545-80316-8

Page Count: 208

Publisher: Graphix/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Nov. 26, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2018

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


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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Narrow squeaks aplenty combine with bursts of lyrical prose for a satisfying adventure


A Prohibition-era child enlists a gifted pickpocket and a pair of budding circus performers in a clever ruse to save her ancestral home from being stolen by developers.

Rundell sets her iron-jawed protagonist on a seemingly impossible quest: to break into the ramshackle Hudson River castle from which her grieving grandfather has been abruptly evicted by unscrupulous con man Victor Sorrotore and recover a fabulously valuable hidden emerald. Laying out an elaborate scheme in a notebook that itself turns out to be an integral part of the ensuing caper, Vita, only slowed by a bout with polio years before, enlists a team of helpers. Silk, a light-fingered orphan, aspiring aerialist Samuel Kawadza, and Arkady, a Russian lad with a remarkable affinity for and with animals, all join her in a series of expeditions, mostly nocturnal, through and under Manhattan. The city never comes to life the way the human characters do (Vita, for instance, “had six kinds of smile, and five of them were real”) but often does have a tangible presence, and notwithstanding Vita’s encounter with a (rather anachronistically styled) “Latina” librarian, period attitudes toward race and class are convincingly drawn. Vita, Silk, and Arkady all present white; Samuel, a Shona immigrant from Southern Rhodesia, is the only primary character of color. Santoso’s vignettes of, mostly, animals and small items add occasional visual grace notes.

Narrow squeaks aplenty combine with bursts of lyrical prose for a satisfying adventure . (Historical fiction. 11-13)

Pub Date: Aug. 27, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4814-1948-2

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 26, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2019

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