A riveting tale of family ties, friendship and community loyalty.

UNTRACEABLE

THE NATURE OF GRACE—BOOK 1

Gutsy teen Grace, who is much more at home fly fishing, hiking and tracking bears through the woods than hanging out at the mall or chasing boys, has a mission—to prove that her father is still alive.

Grace’s father—forest ranger and wilderness survival expert—has taught his daughter everything she needs to know to trek through the Smoky Mountains, searching for clues to his sudden disappearance. After the police find his torn, blood-stained shirt in a local river, they, along with Grace’s mother, assume he has been killed in a tragic accident. Despite being snubbed by the local police chief, running up against the wrath of the chief of the town’s Native American reservation and alienating herself from her distraught mother, Grace is determined to prove them all wrong. The spunky sleuth goes all out to find her dad, determined not to be put off by her longtime friend and admirer Wyn or distracted by the amorous attentions of the intriguing British stranger Mo. When she inadvertently stumbles upon a dark, dangerous secret, it challenges everything Grace thought she knew about her sleepy hometown and its inhabitants. This thrilling story is a dramatic entanglement of mystery, deception and teen romance. The author has achieved a stunning, high-tension tale that takes the reader on a journey over rough terrain as it follows a young girl’s quest to find the truth and protect the sanctity of a national park and the animals that owe their survival to it. These unique, lively characters will rouse a gamut of emotions in young adult readers. The action flows like a brisk mountain stream interspersed with rapids, holding suspense to last page and then leaving an intriguing teaser in anticipation of the sequel.

A riveting tale of family ties, friendship and community loyalty.

Pub Date: Nov. 29, 2011

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: 314

Publisher: Coleman & Stott

Review Posted Online: Nov. 18, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2011

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Little Blue Truck keeps on truckin’—but not without some backfires.

LITTLE BLUE TRUCK'S VALENTINE

Little Blue Truck feels, well, blue when he delivers valentine after valentine but receives nary a one.

His bed overflowing with cards, Blue sets out to deliver a yellow card with purple polka dots and a shiny purple heart to Hen, one with a shiny fuchsia heart to Pig, a big, shiny, red heart-shaped card to Horse, and so on. With each delivery there is an exchange of Beeps from Blue and the appropriate animal sounds from his friends, Blue’s Beeps always set in blue and the animal’s vocalization in a color that matches the card it receives. But as Blue heads home, his deliveries complete, his headlight eyes are sad and his front bumper droops ever so slightly. Blue is therefore surprised (but readers may not be) when he pulls into his garage to be greeted by all his friends with a shiny blue valentine just for him. In this, Blue’s seventh outing, it’s not just the sturdy protagonist that seems to be wilting. Schertle’s verse, usually reliable, stumbles more than once; stanzas such as “But Valentine’s Day / didn’t seem much fun / when he didn’t get cards / from anyone” will cause hitches during read-alouds. The illustrations, done by Joseph in the style of original series collaborator Jill McElmurry, are pleasant enough, but his compositions often feel stiff and forced.

Little Blue Truck keeps on truckin’—but not without some backfires. (Board book. 1-4)

Pub Date: Dec. 8, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-358-27244-1

Page Count: 20

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: Jan. 19, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2021

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Readers can still rely on this series to bring laughs.

WRECKING BALL

From the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series , Vol. 14

The Heffley family’s house undergoes a disastrous attempt at home improvement.

When Great Aunt Reba dies, she leaves some money to the family. Greg’s mom calls a family meeting to determine what to do with their share, proposing home improvements and then overruling the family’s cartoonish wish lists and instead pushing for an addition to the kitchen. Before bringing in the construction crew, the Heffleys attempt to do minor maintenance and repairs themselves—during which Greg fails at the work in various slapstick scenes. Once the professionals are brought in, the problems keep getting worse: angry neighbors, terrifying problems in walls, and—most serious—civil permitting issues that put the kibosh on what work’s been done. Left with only enough inheritance to patch and repair the exterior of the house—and with the school’s dismal standardized test scores as a final straw—Greg’s mom steers the family toward moving, opening up house-hunting and house-selling storylines (and devastating loyal Rowley, who doesn’t want to lose his best friend). While Greg’s positive about the move, he’s not completely uncaring about Rowley’s action. (And of course, Greg himself is not as unaffected as he wishes.) The gags include effectively placed callbacks to seemingly incidental events (the “stress lizard” brought in on testing day is particularly funny) and a lampoon of after-school-special–style problem books. Just when it seems that the Heffleys really will move, a new sequence of chaotic trouble and property destruction heralds a return to the status quo. Whew.

Readers can still rely on this series to bring laughs. (Graphic/fiction hybrid. 8-12)

Pub Date: Nov. 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4197-3903-3

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Amulet/Abrams

Review Posted Online: Nov. 19, 2019

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