Mystery and history dance a mesmerizing waltz in this poignant, thoroughly entertaining novel that shows how “[t]he past...

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THE CHILDREN OF THE KING

No matter how far north of London the Lockwoods travel, they can’t escape the ravages of World War II.

Twelve-year-old Cecily Lockwood isn’t happy to leave her revered father behind in London, but she’s secretly thrilled she and her older brother, Jeremy, are bound for Heron Hall, her uncle Peregrine’s lovely country manor. At the train station, they convince their mother to take in a 10-year-old London evacuee named May Bright, who, to Cecily’s delight, becomes a sort of sister to her, though (less delightful for bossy Cecily) she’s “prone to bouts of independence.” Through her likable, vividly wrought characters, Hartnett respectfully captures the depth and ferocity of childhood. The poetic descriptions of the girls’ rural wanderings are to be savored like the best tea and biscuits, but the masterful lyricism never slows the suspenseful story of Cecily and May’s discovery of two “horrid boys” in velvet jackets, hiding among nearby castle ruins…or the rising tension between Jeremy and his mother as he battles his sense of helplessness as others fight the war. Uncle Peregrine tells a 450-year-old story whose themes are curiously relevant to World War II England…perhaps even to the be-velveted boys-in-hiding.

Mystery and history dance a mesmerizing waltz in this poignant, thoroughly entertaining novel that shows how “[t]he past lives everywhere.” (Historical fiction. 11-14)

Pub Date: March 1, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-7636-6735-1

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: Jan. 4, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2014

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A sly, side-splitting hoot from start to finish.

THE MECHANICAL MIND OF JOHN COGGIN

The dreary prospect of spending a lifetime making caskets instead of wonderful inventions prompts a young orphan to snatch up his little sister and flee. Where? To the circus, of course.

Fortunately or otherwise, John and 6-year-old Page join up with Boz—sometime human cannonball for the seedy Wandering Wayfarers and a “vertically challenged” trickster with a fantastic gift for sowing chaos. Alas, the budding engineer barely has time to settle in to begin work on an experimental circus wagon powered by chicken poop and dubbed (with questionable forethought) the Autopsy. The hot pursuit of malign and indomitable Great-Aunt Beauregard, the Coggins’ only living relative, forces all three to leave the troupe for further flights and misadventures. Teele spins her adventure around a sturdy protagonist whose love for his little sister is matched only by his fierce desire for something better in life for them both and tucks in an outstanding supporting cast featuring several notably strong-minded, independent women (Page, whose glare “would kill spiders dead,” not least among them). Better yet, in Boz she has created a scene-stealing force of nature, a free spirit who’s never happier than when he’s stirring up mischief. A climactic clutch culminating in a magnificently destructive display of fireworks leaves the Coggin sibs well-positioned for bright futures. (Illustrations not seen.)

A sly, side-splitting hoot from start to finish. (Adventure. 11-13)

Pub Date: April 12, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-06-234510-3

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Walden Pond Press/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2016

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A killer thriller.

THREE HOURS IN PARIS

Black takes time out from chronicling the neighborhood-themed exploits of half-French detective Aimée Leduc to introduce a heroine as American as apple pie.

Kate Rees never expected to see Paris again, especially not under these circumstances. Born and bred in rural Oregon, she earned a scholarship to the Sorbonne, where she met Dafydd, a handsome Welshman who stole her heart. The start of World War II finds the couple stationed in the Orkney Islands, where Kate impresses Alfred Stepney of the War Department with the rifle skills she developed helping her dad and five brothers protect the family’s cattle. After unimaginable tragedy strikes, Stepney recruits Kate for a mission that will allow her to channel her newly ignited rage against the Germans who’ve just invaded France. She’s parachuted into the countryside, where her fluent French should help her blend in. Landing in a field, she hops a milk train to Paris, where she plans to shoot Adolf Hitler as he stands on the steps of Sacre-Coeur. Instead, she kills his admiral and has to flee through the streets of Paris, struggling to hook up with the rescuers who are supposed to extract her. Meanwhile, Gunter Hoffman, a career policeman in a wartime assignment with the Reichssicherheitsdienst security forces, is charged with finding the assassin who dared attempt to kill the Führer. It’s hard to see how it can end well for both the cop and the cowgirl. The heroine’s flight is too episodic to capitalize on Black’s skill at character development, but she’s great at raising readers’ blood pressure.

A killer thriller.

Pub Date: April 7, 2020

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: 360

Publisher: Soho Crime

Review Posted Online: May 4, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2020

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A fitting end to a brilliantly conceived and developed series.

THE LAST GUARDIAN

From the Artemis Fowl series , Vol. 8

In his eighth, greatest and (billed as) final exploit, Artemis Fowl finally puts paid to archnemesis Opal Koboi while also saving humanity from extinction, but at a steep price.

The malign pixie Koboi has escaped prison, sown widespread destruction on both the surface and in the high-tech underground fairy realm, and acquired massive magical mojo. Now she is set to unlock two nested spells on the Fowl estate. One binds the spirits of a band of ancient fairy warriors to her while allowing them to possess any living or once-living bodies available, and the other unleashes Armageddon on the entire human race. Enter Artemis, with his usual sidekicks and allies, from tough fairy cop Holly Short to dangerously flatulent dwarf Mulch Diggums. Punctuating his breakneck narrative with silly turns, sudden extreme violence and memorable turns of phrase—“…like the man with the exploding head, it was a one-time trick”—Colfer pits his resourceful crew against an army of killer bunnies and decomposed corpses (most of the estate’s other residents being off for Christmas). All this is on the way to a smashing set of climactic twists and turns, just deserts and life-changing sacrifices.

A fitting end to a brilliantly conceived and developed series. (Fantasy. 11-14)

Pub Date: July 10, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-4231-6161-5

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion

Review Posted Online: July 10, 2012

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