TENTACLE AND WING

An inventive, charming tale with a strange mix of science and fantasy.

Ada Lahey has been carrying a secret all of her life, one her father has helped her to keep: though she appears to be a brown-skinned human, 12-year-old Ada is a chimera with infrared vision, seeing hues that others don’t.

This secret is exposed during a random health check at school, when a DNA test reveals her to be a kime. Possibly the result of a mysterious genetic experiment gone awry, kimes are believed to be infectious, even causing death to “normal” humans. Ada is taken from her parents and housed in a Long Island facility with other kime children, who exhibit a variety of animallike features. At first appearance, the quarantined compound seems a safe haven from those who want them all dead. However, shortly after arriving, Ada begins to suspect that the adults in charge have a sinister agenda that involves plans for what this new species of human children could become. Ada soon learns that the strange hues she sees are actually intelligent and may hold the key to the destiny of all of the chimera children. Ada’s snarky personality, conveyed in her likable, present-tense voice, lightens the mood of this dark yet mystical story. It’s set against the current backdrop of climate change, imagining the evolution of humans into a new species (with a little tinkering from scientists).

An inventive, charming tale with a strange mix of science and fantasy. (Science fiction. 10-12)

Pub Date: Oct. 10, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-328-70733-8

Page Count: 272

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: June 26, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2017

MILLIONAIRES FOR THE MONTH

Cinematic, over-the-top decadence, a tense race against time, and lessons on what’s truly valuable.

A reward of $5,000,000 almost ruins everything for two seventh graders.

On a class trip to New York City, Felix and Benji find a wallet belonging to social media billionaire Laura Friendly. Benji, a well-off, chaotic kid with learning disabilities, swipes $20 from the wallet before they send it back to its owner. Felix, a poor, shy, rule-follower, reluctantly consents. So when Laura Friendly herself arrives to give them a reward for the returned wallet, she’s annoyed. To teach her larcenous helpers a lesson, Laura offers them a deal: a $20,000 college scholarship or slightly over $5 million cash—but with strings attached. The boys must spend all the money in 30 days, with legal stipulations preventing them from giving anything away, investing, or telling anyone about it. The glorious windfall quickly grows to become a chore and then a torment as the boys appear increasingly selfish and irresponsible to the adults in their lives. They rent luxury cars, hire a (wonderful) philosophy undergrad as a chauffeur, take their families to Disney World, and spend thousands on in-app game purchases. Yet, surrounded by hedonistically described piles of loot and filthy lucre, the boys long for simpler fundamentals. The absorbing spending spree reads like a fun family film, gleefully stuffed with the very opulence it warns against. Major characters are White.

Cinematic, over-the-top decadence, a tense race against time, and lessons on what’s truly valuable. (mathematical explanations) (Fiction. 10-12)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-593-17525-5

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: June 29, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2020

MY LIFE AS A POTATO

On equal footing with a garden-variety potato.

The new kid in school endures becoming the school mascot.

Ben Hardy has never cared for potatoes, and this distaste has become a barrier to adjusting to life in his new Idaho town. His school’s mascot is the Spud, and after a series of misfortunes, Ben is enlisted to don the potato costume and cheer on his school’s team. Ben balances his duties as a life-sized potato against his desperate desire to hide the fact that he’s the dork in the suit. After all, his cute new crush, Jayla, wouldn’t be too impressed to discover Ben’s secret. The ensuing novel is a fairly boilerplate middle–grade narrative: snarky tween protagonist, the crush that isn’t quite what she seems, and a pair of best friends that have more going on than our hero initially believes. The author keeps the novel moving quickly, pushing forward with witty asides and narrative momentum so fast that readers won’t really mind that the plot’s spine is one they’ve encountered many times before. Once finished, readers will feel little resonance and move on to the next book in their to-read piles, but in the moment the novel is pleasant enough. Ben, Jayla, and Ben’s friend Hunter are white while Ellie, Ben’s other good pal, is Latina.

On equal footing with a garden-variety potato. (Fiction. 10-12)

Pub Date: March 24, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-593-11866-5

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: Nov. 23, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2019

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