An intriguing and singular depiction of angels neatly wrapped up in a brief, captivating coming-of-age tale. (Fantasy. 10-14)

ANGEL CREEK

What do we really know about angels?

While recent literature for teens teems with vengeful or romantically inclined angels, this Australian import offers a refreshing view of the seraphim. Frustrated and lonely after her family’s recent move, Jelly faces the first year of high school knowing no one. She wanders down to the creek behind her house with her cousins, Gino and much younger Pik, where they discover a small, waterlogged angel with a broken wing. Rippin’s vision of an angel is of a near-feral, childlike creature. The angel determinedly attaches itself to Jelly, ignoring the now-jealous Gino. She and Gino hide it in a metal shed, a poor choice in the summer heat. Then, as the angel suffers from its captivity, things begin to go badly all around them, starting with their grandmother’s nearly lethal heart ailment and including bullies and a younger cousin’s serious illness. Gino connects the dots before Jelly, but both come to realize they don’t really understand angels and the potential dangers they might present. A neighborhood boy provides needed insight and the promise of a friend for Jelly. Characters are believably portrayed, the shredded remains of childhood innocence slowly giving way to the worldly skepticism of adolescence.

An intriguing and singular depiction of angels neatly wrapped up in a brief, captivating coming-of-age tale. (Fantasy. 10-14)

Pub Date: July 16, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-921758-05-8

Page Count: 140

Publisher: Text

Review Posted Online: May 23, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2013

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An engaging novel-in-poems that imagines one earnest, impassioned teenage girl’s experience of the Japanese-American...

DUST OF EDEN

Crystal-clear prose poems paint a heart-rending picture of 13-year-old Mina Masako Tagawa’s journey from Seattle to a Japanese-American internment camp during World War II.

This vividly wrought story of displacement, told from Mina’s first-person perspective, begins as it did for so many Japanese-Americans: with the bombs dropping on Pearl Harbor. The backlash of her Seattle community is instantaneous (“Jap, Jap, Jap, the word bounces / around the walls of the hall”), and Mina chronicles its effects on her family with a heavy heart. “I am an American, I scream / in my head, but my mouth is stuffed / with rocks; my body is a stone, like the statue / of a little Buddha Grandpa prays to.” When Roosevelt decrees that West Coast Japanese-Americans are to be imprisoned in inland camps, the Tagawas board up their house, leaving the cat, Grandpa’s roses and Mina’s best friend behind. Following the Tagawas from Washington’s Puyallup Assembly Center to Idaho’s Minidoka Relocation Center (near the titular town of Eden), the narrative continues in poems and letters. In them, injustices such as endless camp lines sit alongside even larger ones, such as the government’s asking interned young men, including Mina’s brother, to fight for America.

An engaging novel-in-poems that imagines one earnest, impassioned teenage girl’s experience of the Japanese-American internment. (historical note) (Verse/historical fiction. 11-14)

Pub Date: March 1, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-8075-1739-0

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Whitman

Review Posted Online: Jan. 29, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2014

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Not for the faint of heart or stomach (or maybe of any parts) but sure to be appreciated by middle school zombie cognoscenti.

ZOMBIE BASEBALL BEATDOWN

Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle meets Left for Dead/The Walking Dead/Shaun of the Dead in a high-energy, high-humor look at the zombie apocalypse, complete with baseball (rather than cricket) bats.

The wholesome-seeming Iowa cornfields are a perfect setting for the emergence of ghastly anomalies: flesh-eating cows and baseball-coach zombies. The narrator hero, Rabi (for Rabindranath), and his youth baseball teammates and friends, Miguel and Joe, discover by chance that all is not well with their small town’s principal industry: the Milrow corporation’s giant feedlot and meat-production and -packing facility. The ponds of cow poo and crammed quarters for the animals are described in gaggingly smelly detail, and the bone-breaking, bloody, flesh-smashing encounters with the zombies have a high gross-out factor. The zombie cows and zombie humans who emerge from the muck are apparently a product of the food supply gone cuckoo in service of big-money profits with little concern for the end result. It’s up to Rabi and his pals to try to prove what’s going on—and to survive the corporation’s efforts to silence them. Much as Bacigalupi’s Ship Breaker (2010) was a clarion call to action against climate change, here’s a signal alert to young teens to think about what they eat, while the considerable appeal of the characters and plot defies any preachiness.

Not for the faint of heart or stomach (or maybe of any parts) but sure to be appreciated by middle school zombie cognoscenti. (Fiction. 11-14)

Pub Date: Sept. 10, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-316-22078-1

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: June 26, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2013

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