A sensational, exhilarating adventure that will make new readers want to read the series’ first.

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KEYS TO ATLANTIS

THE ODYSSEY OF JON SINCLAIR, VOLUME 2

Time traveler Jon Sinclair returns to the 17th century to find the lost city of Atlantis in the second installment of Copus’ (BlackHeart’s Legacy, 2012) middle-grade adventure series.

It’s been three years since 15-year-old Jon fought with pirates in 1692, and now he’s back in the present. He reads a letter from his friend, Capt. BlackHeart, which hints that the captain is able to take him to Atlantis. Jon, his “Pappy” Alistair, his godfather, Nikos, and an English BlackHeart descendant named Colin all hop aboard the space-time-bending ship Carousel and journey to 1699 Crete. There, they reconnect with the captain, who tells them that he may have the key to the legendary lost city. But that key, a black opal stone, is part of a set—and the group will need to find at least one more opal before they can make the Atlantean journey. BlackHeart, however, then encounters an old pal whom he thought was dead. The man also knows far too much about his expedition, which can only mean that there’s a traitor among the captain’s group. This is a sequel that does everything right. For starters, it features several returning characters, such as former navigator Spider and quartermaster Mr. Token, and recognizable predicaments, such as a harrowing battle at sea. But Copus truly expands the Sinclairs’ world by opening up subplots that the preceding novel merely teased. For example, there’s much more back story this time concerning Jon’s long-deceased parents, particularly his father, Weston, who worked for the government’s Office of External Affairs. Similarly, further details about the Carousel suggest its possible origin: the Kimmerii, men from the future who need the ship to return to their own time, a few centuries hence. Unfortunately, Grammy, aka Kathryn, a featured player in the last book, has a much smaller role, but new character Haley, Colin’s little sis, almost fills that void. She’s a brilliant hacker who’s close to Jon’s age, and her addition adds romantic possibilities to the story. Copus has great fun with timeline-divided culture; BlackHeart’s hilarious fascination with a Post-it Note, for example, is a standout moment. There are a few other tasty morsels as well, including a contemporary car chase; a vicious, human-sized falcon; and an ending that leaves at least two characters’ fates in question.

A sensational, exhilarating adventure that will make new readers want to read the series’ first.

Pub Date: March 5, 2015

ISBN: 978-1508419204

Page Count: 386

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: April 16, 2015

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THE CITY OF EMBER

This promising debut is set in a dying underground city. Ember, which was founded and stocked with supplies centuries ago by “The Builders,” is now desperately short of food, clothes, and electricity to keep the town illuminated. Lina and Doon find long-hidden, undecipherable instructions that send them on a perilous mission to find what they believe must exist: an exit door from their disintegrating town. In the process, they uncover secret governmental corruption and a route to the world above. Well-paced, this contains a satisfying mystery, a breathtaking escape over rooftops in darkness, a harrowing journey into the unknown and cryptic messages for readers to decipher. The setting is well-realized with the constraints of life in the city intriguingly detailed. The likable protagonists are not only courageous but also believably flawed by human pride, their weaknesses often complementing each other in interesting ways. The cliffhanger ending will leave readers clamoring for the next installment. (Fiction. 9-13)

Pub Date: May 27, 2003

ISBN: 0-375-82273-9

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2003

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Though the lessons weigh more heavily than in The One and Only Ivan, a potential disappointment to its fans, the story is...

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CRENSHAW

Applegate tackles homelessness in her first novel since 2013 Newbery winner The One and Only Ivan.

Hunger is a constant for soon-to-be fifth-grader Jackson and his family, and the accompanying dizziness may be why his imaginary friend is back. A giant cat named Crenshaw first appeared after Jackson finished first grade, when his parents moved the family into their minivan for several months. Now they’re facing eviction again, and Jackson’s afraid that he won’t be going to school next year with his friend Marisol. When Crenshaw shows up on a surfboard, Jackson, an aspiring scientist who likes facts, wonders whether Crenshaw is real or a figment of his imagination. Jackson’s first-person narrative moves from the present day, when he wishes that his parents understood that he’s old enough to hear the truth about the family’s finances, to the first time they were homeless and back to the present. The structure allows readers access to the slow buildup of Jackson’s panic and his need for a friend and stability in his life. Crenshaw tells Jackson that “Imaginary friends don’t come of their own volition. We are invited. We stay as long as we’re needed.” The cat’s voice, with its adult tone, is the conduit for the novel’s lessons: “You need to tell the truth, my friend….To the person who matters most of all.”

Though the lessons weigh more heavily than in The One and Only Ivan, a potential disappointment to its fans, the story is nevertheless a somberly affecting one . (Fiction. 7-11)

Pub Date: Sept. 22, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-250-04323-8

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Feiwel & Friends

Review Posted Online: June 29, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2015

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