A cliffhanging conclusion will ensure that readers who’ve enjoyed these improbable tales will be impatient to find out about...

SAMANTHA SPINNER AND THE SPECTACULAR SPECS

The further adventures of Samantha Spinner involve rubber-nosed clowns, a gross of chinchillas, and a Broadway play.

In the first installment of their search for their missing uncle Paul, Samantha Spinner and the Super-Secret Plans (2018), 11-year-old Samantha and her annoying little brother, Nipper, traveled to France, Italy, and Egypt. They didn’t find their uncle, but they outwitted an organization called the Royal Academy of International Ninjas (RAIN). Here, they visit Mali, Indonesia, and Peru, using supersecret underground transport, and take a train to New York to see the opening of older sister Buffy’s Broadway play, all the while trying to avoid the clowns of the Society of Universal Nonsense (SUN). The narrative in this second series entry includes explanatory background, but the Spinners’ adventures are so bizarre that new readers may find it hard to catch up. Still, fast-paced action and zany humor could keep them turning pages anyway. Samantha is clever and focused, Nipper impulsive and impatient (his impulsive, unintentional purchase of 144 chinchillas is dealt with by the Komodo dragon he brings home); both contribute to finding clues and occasionally ignore what readers will see as obvious. With no physical descriptions, they’re presumably white, which is confirmed on the cover. Interspersed in the narrative are more supersecret plans—of the Borobadur Temple, fire hydrants, accelerated moving walkways, the Great Mosque of Djenné, Lucy the Elephant, and the USS Intrepid. All but the elephant have roles in this adventure—perhaps she’ll appear in the next book.

A cliffhanging conclusion will ensure that readers who’ve enjoyed these improbable tales will be impatient to find out about the WIND. (further information) (Adventure. 9-12)

Pub Date: March 12, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5247-2004-9

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: Nov. 21, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2018

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Poet Alexander deftly reveals the power of the format to pack an emotional punch.

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  • New York Times Bestseller

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THE CROSSOVER

Basketball-playing twins find challenges to their relationship on and off the court as they cope with changes in their lives.

Josh Bell and his twin, Jordan, aka JB, are stars of their school basketball team. They are also successful students, since their educator mother will stand for nothing else. As the two middle schoolers move to a successful season, readers can see their differences despite the sibling connection. After all, Josh has dreadlocks and is quiet on court, and JB is bald and a trash talker. Their love of the sport comes from their father, who had also excelled in the game, though his championship was achieved overseas. Now, however, he does not have a job and seems to have health problems the parents do not fully divulge to the boys. The twins experience their first major rift when JB is attracted to a new girl in their school, and Josh finds himself without his brother. This novel in verse is rich in character and relationships. Most interesting is the family dynamic that informs so much of the narrative, which always reveals, never tells. While Josh relates the story, readers get a full picture of major and minor players. The basketball action provides energy and rhythm for a moving story.

Poet Alexander deftly reveals the power of the format to pack an emotional punch. (Verse fiction. 9-12)

Pub Date: March 18, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-544-10771-7

Page Count: 240

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: Dec. 18, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2014

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This pitch-perfect contemporary novel gently explores the past’s repercussions on the present

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    Best Books Of 2016

  • Kirkus Prize
  • Kirkus Prize
    winner

  • Schneider Family Book Award Winner

AS BRAVE AS YOU

Eleven-year-old Brooklynite Genie has “worry issues,” so when he and his older brother, Ernie, are sent to Virginia to spend a month with their estranged grandparents while their parents “try to figure it all out,” he goes into overdrive.

First, he discovers that Grandpop is blind. Next, there’s no Internet, so the questions he keeps track of in his notebook (over 400 so far) will have to go un-Googled. Then, he breaks the model truck that’s one of the only things Grandma still has of his deceased uncle. And he and Ernie will have to do chores, like picking peas and scooping dog poop. What’s behind the “nunya bidness door”? And is that a gun sticking out from Grandpop’s waistband? Reynolds’ middle-grade debut meanders like the best kind of summer vacation but never loses sense of its throughline. The richly voiced third-person narrative, tightly focused through Genie’s point of view, introduces both brothers and readers to this rural African-American community and allows them to relax and explore even as it delves into the many mysteries that so bedevil Genie, ranging from "Grits? What exactly are they?" to, heartbreakingly, “Why am I so stupid?” Reynolds gives his readers uncommonly well-developed, complex characters, especially the completely believable Genie and Grandpop, whose stubborn self-sufficiency belies his vulnerability and whose flawed love both Genie and readers will cherish.

This pitch-perfect contemporary novel gently explores the past’s repercussions on the present . (Fiction. 9-12)

Pub Date: May 3, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-4814-1590-3

Page Count: 432

Publisher: Caitlyn Dlouhy/Atheneum

Review Posted Online: March 30, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2016

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