THE HOP

Moranville transforms the Grimms' classic "The Frog Prince" into a humorous environmental tale.

It begins with a prophecy. Tad, a young toad, Bufo americanus, has a dream during his winter sleep, in which he sees "Rumbler" (a backhoe) burying all the residents of Toadville-by-Tumbledown. In order to save Tumbledown from becoming a mini strip mall, Tad must kiss the (human) Queen of the Hop. That human turns out to be Taylor, who frequently stays with her grandmother Eve, whose property borders Toadville-by-Tumbledown. Embracing Eve’s stories of Vietnam-era protests, Taylor embarks on a plan to stop the development. The quick-paced, humorous narrative shifts between Tad and Taylor. Readers will eagerly follow these two unlikely heroes as they share their first, then second kiss, and Taylor wins the title of Queen of the Hop. Tad’s transformation from toad to boy and back again is convincing. A subplot gently addresses Taylor’s concerns as Eve undergoes and recuperates from chemotherapy. Moranville writes about the complex world of toads and the importance of preserving wild areas with a light hand, and the happy ending, which moves several years into the future, is satisfying.

An enchanting adventure. (Fantasy. 8-12)

Pub Date: March 20, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-4231-3736-8

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion

Review Posted Online: Dec. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2012

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A fast and funny alternative to the Wimpy Kid.

JAKE THE FAKE KEEPS IT REAL

From the Jake the Fake series , Vol. 1

Black sixth-grader Jake Liston can only play one song on the piano. He can’t read music very well, and he can’t improvise. So how did Jake get accepted to the Music and Art Academy? He faked it.

Alongside an eclectic group of academy classmates, and with advice from his best friend, Jake tries to fit in at a school where things like garbage sculpting and writing art reviews of bird poop splatter are the norm. All is well until Jake discovers that the end-of-the-semester talent show is only two weeks away, and Jake is short one very important thing…talent. Or is he? It’s up to Jake to either find the talent that lies within or embarrass himself in front of the entire school. Light and humorous, with Knight’s illustrations adding to the fun, Jake’s story will likely appeal to many middle-grade readers, especially those who might otherwise be reluctant to pick up a book. While the artsy antics may be over-the-top at times, this is a story about something that most preteens can relate to: the struggle to find your authentic self. And in a world filled with books about wanting to fit in with the athletically gifted supercliques, this novel unabashedly celebrates the artsy crowd in all of its quirky, creative glory.

A fast and funny alternative to the Wimpy Kid. (Fiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: March 28, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-553-52351-5

Page Count: 144

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: Dec. 6, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2016

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90 MILES TO HAVANA

After Castro’s takeover, nine-year-old Julian and his older brothers are sent away by their fearful parents via “Operation Pedro Pan” to a camp in Miami for Cuban-exile children. Here he discovers that a ruthless bully has essentially been put in charge. Julian is quicker-witted than his brothers or anyone else ever imagined, though, and with his inherent smarts, developing maturity and the help of child and adult friends, he learns to navigate the dynamics of the camp and surroundings and grows from the former baby of the family to independence and self-confidence. A daring rescue mission at the end of the novel will have readers rooting for Julian even as it opens his family’s eyes to his courage and resourcefulness. This autobiographical novel is a well-meaning, fast-paced and often exciting read, though at times the writing feels choppy. It will introduce readers to a not-so-distant period whose echoes are still felt today and inspire admiration for young people who had to be brave despite frightening and lonely odds. (Historical fiction. 9-12)

 

Pub Date: Aug. 3, 2010

ISBN: 978-1-59643-168-3

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Roaring Brook Press

Review Posted Online: June 14, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2010

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