Warm, exciting, hopeful, and ethical.

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SPARK

While training to help helm the weather, a girl realizes that her country’s constructed climate has consequences.

Twelve-year-old Mina lives on her family’s farm in sunny Alorria, country of soft breezes and blue skies. There’s never been a tornado, hurricane, or thunderstorm; except on the mountaintops, snow exists only in stories. But the climate isn’t naturally occurring: Five types of storm beasts—sun, rain, wind, snow, lightning—and their loving human guardians keep the weather calm and productive. For example, they direct wind to the sea and moderate it to sailors’ advantage. When Mina’s beast hatches as a lightning beast, everyone’s shocked: Mina’s so quiet she often goes unheard, and lightning guardians should be “brash and loud and brave.” But Mina is brave, though sometimes self-doubting, and she finds creative ways to be heard. Probing the undiscussed connection between Alorria’s intentional weather and the weather across the mountains where “outsiders” live spurs this thoughtful heroine into forbidden actions to address her realization that “The truth ha[s] faces. And graves.” Race is unmentioned; nothing hints away from a white default. The effusive adoration between Mina and her beast, Pixit, evokes The Golden Compass’ Lyra and Pan, though Pixit and Mina can separate; readers will crave their own dragon-shaped storm beast with a face “like a lizard crossed with a puppy” to take them flying into storms and grabbing lightning with their hands.

Warm, exciting, hopeful, and ethical. (Fantasy. 9-12)

Pub Date: May 14, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-328-97342-9

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Clarion

Review Posted Online: Feb. 13, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2019

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However the compelling fitness of theme and event and the apt but unexpected imagery (the opening sentences compare the...

TUCK EVERLASTING

At a time when death has become an acceptable, even voguish subject in children's fiction, Natalie Babbitt comes through with a stylistic gem about living forever. 

Protected Winnie, the ten-year-old heroine, is not immortal, but when she comes upon young Jesse Tuck drinking from a secret spring in her parents' woods, she finds herself involved with a family who, having innocently drunk the same water some 87 years earlier, haven't aged a moment since. Though the mood is delicate, there is no lack of action, with the Tucks (previously suspected of witchcraft) now pursued for kidnapping Winnie; Mae Tuck, the middle aged mother, striking and killing a stranger who is onto their secret and would sell the water; and Winnie taking Mae's place in prison so that the Tucks can get away before she is hanged from the neck until....? Though Babbitt makes the family a sad one, most of their reasons for discontent are circumstantial and there isn't a great deal of wisdom to be gleaned from their fate or Winnie's decision not to share it. 

However the compelling fitness of theme and event and the apt but unexpected imagery (the opening sentences compare the first week in August when this takes place to "the highest seat of a Ferris wheel when it pauses in its turning") help to justify the extravagant early assertion that had the secret about to be revealed been known at the time of the action, the very earth "would have trembled on its axis like a beetle on a pin." (Fantasy. 9-11)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 1975

ISBN: 0312369816

Page Count: 164

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: April 13, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 1975

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SPACE CASE

From the Moon Base Alpha series , Vol. 1

When Dr. Holtz’s body is discovered just outside the lunar colony, everyone assumes he made a mistake putting on his spacesuit—but 12-year-old Dashiell “Dash” Gibson has reason to believe this was no accident.

Earth’s first space base has been a living hell for Dash. There’s not much to do on the moon besides schoolwork and virtual-reality gaming, and there’s only a handful of kids his age up there with him. The chance to solve a murder is exactly the type of excitement Dash needs. As clues are found and secrets are uncovered, Dash comes to understand that some of the base’s residents aren’t what they seem to be. With a small cast of characters supplying an excellent variety of suspects, Gibbs creates the best kind of “murder on a train” mystery. The genius, however, is putting the train in space. Closed quarters and techno–mumbo-jumbo add delightful color to the proceedings. Thankfully, the author doesn’t let the high-concept setting overshadow the novel’s mystery. The whodunit is smartly paced and intricately plotted. Best of all, the reveal is actually worth all the buildup. Thrillers too often fly off the rails in their final moments, but the author’s steady hand keeps everything here on track.

Fully absorbing. (Mystery. 9-12)

Pub Date: Sept. 16, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4424-9486-2

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 28, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2014

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