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FINDERS KEEPERS

Entertaining and humorous; good light fare for middle graders

A 10-year-old searches for Al Capone's lost treasure.

It's Christa's last summer in the north woods of Wisconsin: her teacher father has lost his job, and the family cabin is for sale. Everything's different—her parents are working temp jobs instead of relaxing, her 16-year-old sister is too busy waitressing to be any fun, and their grumpy neighbor has retired (thus able to bear witness to Christa's many escapades) and now has his 11-year-old grandson, Alex, living with him. When Alex proves to have a quirky sense of humor that matches Christa's, they imagine fantastic adventures until a real one—finding the stash of money Al Capone supposedly stored somewhere nearby—absorbs their attention. Could the money be enough to save the cabin? Tougas' first-person narration seems stiff at first, as Christa starts out as a whiny one-note character. Eventually, however, the characterization deepens as well as the intrigue, and the fast-paced ending has enough bite to satisfy. The premise will cause inevitable comparisons to Gennifer Choldenko’s Alcatraz tales, but the story stands on its own.

Entertaining and humorous; good light fare for middle graders . (Fiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-59643-990-0

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Roaring Brook Press

Review Posted Online: June 22, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2015

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THE WILD ROBOT PROTECTS

From the Wild Robot series , Vol. 3

Hugely entertaining, timely, and triumphant.

Robot Roz undertakes an unusual ocean journey to save her adopted island home in this third series entry.

When a poison tide flowing across the ocean threatens their island, Roz works with the resident creatures to ensure that they will have clean water, but the destruction of vegetation and crowding of habitats jeopardize everyone’s survival. Brown’s tale of environmental depredation and turmoil is by turns poignant, graceful, endearing, and inspiring, with his (mostly) gentle robot protagonist at its heart. Though Roz is different from the creatures she lives with or encounters—including her son, Brightbill the goose, and his new mate, Glimmerwing—she makes connections through her versatile communication abilities and her desire to understand and help others. When Roz accidentally discovers that the replacement body given to her by Dr. Molovo is waterproof, she sets out to seek help and discovers the human-engineered source of the toxic tide. Brown’s rich descriptions of undersea landscapes, entertaining conversations between Roz and wild creatures, and concise yet powerful explanations of the effect of the poison tide on the ecology of the island are superb. Simple, spare illustrations offer just enough glimpses of Roz and her surroundings to spark the imagination. The climactic confrontation pits oceangoing mammals, seabirds, fish, and even zooplankton against hardware and technology in a nicely choreographed battle. But it is Roz’s heroism and peacemaking that save the day.

Hugely entertaining, timely, and triumphant. (author’s note) (Fiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: Sept. 26, 2023

ISBN: 9780316669412

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Aug. 26, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2023

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CHARLOTTE'S WEB

The three way chats, in which they are joined by other animals, about web spinning, themselves, other humans—are as often...

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A successful juvenile by the beloved New Yorker writer portrays a farm episode with an imaginative twist that makes a poignant, humorous story of a pig, a spider and a little girl.

Young Fern Arable pleads for the life of runt piglet Wilbur and gets her father to sell him to a neighbor, Mr. Zuckerman. Daily, Fern visits the Zuckermans to sit and muse with Wilbur and with the clever pen spider Charlotte, who befriends him when he is lonely and downcast. At the news of Wilbur's forthcoming slaughter, campaigning Charlotte, to the astonishment of people for miles around, spins words in her web. "Some Pig" comes first. Then "Terrific"—then "Radiant". The last word, when Wilbur is about to win a show prize and Charlotte is about to die from building her egg sac, is "Humble". And as the wonderful Charlotte does die, the sadness is tempered by the promise of more spiders next spring.

The three way chats, in which they are joined by other animals, about web spinning, themselves, other humans—are as often informative as amusing, and the whole tenor of appealing wit and pathos will make fine entertainment for reading aloud, too.

Pub Date: Oct. 15, 1952

ISBN: 978-0-06-026385-0

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Sept. 14, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 1952

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