Readers who liked the first book will appreciate this one, too, and the glimmerings of a few romances on the horizon will...

APPLEWHITES AT WIT'S END

From the Applewhites series , Vol. 2

In Newbery Honor–winning Surviving the Applewhites (2002), Jake Semple, the big-city “bad kid,” didn’t know how he’d manage a year with that irrepressible clan. In this sequel Jake’s back, but it’s the Applewhites who don’t know how or if they’ll make it.

Thanks to an embezzling financial manager, they’re facing ruin. Theater-director dad Randolph decides to raise money by opening a creative-arts summer camp on their property, at which his uber-talented family will teach gifted kids. As with all of Randolph’s plans, the family is initially skeptical. They pull together when it really counts, though, and soon things are humming and the stage is set for a rousing summer. Just a couple problems, though—threatening notes are turning up in the mailbox, and a mysterious stranger’s nosing around. Organizational-genius daughter E.D. and Jake are on the case, eventually enlisting the aid of the rest of the family. Together with the campers, they devise an ingenious plot to foil the enemy in a satisfying, comical solution to a not-very-mystifying puzzle. The Applewhites remain humorous, heartwarming and devoted to their respective crafts and each other. The campers are fairly successfully realized, though most characterizations are superficial.

Readers who liked the first book will appreciate this one, too, and the glimmerings of a few romances on the horizon will satisfy. (Fiction. 10-13)

Pub Date: May 8, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-06-057938-8

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Feb. 15, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2012

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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 solid debut: fluent, funny and eminently sequel-worthy.

ALMOST SUPER

Inventively tweaking a popular premise, Jensen pits two Incredibles-style families with superpowers against each other—until a new challenge rises to unite them.

The Johnsons invariably spit at the mere mention of their hated rivals, the Baileys. Likewise, all Baileys habitually shake their fists when referring to the Johnsons. Having long looked forward to getting a superpower so that he too can battle his clan’s nemeses, Rafter Bailey is devastated when, instead of being able to fly or something else cool, he acquires the “power” to strike a match on soft polyester. But when hated classmate Juanita Johnson turns up newly endowed with a similarly bogus power and, against all family tradition, they compare notes, it becomes clear that something fishy is going on. Both families regard themselves as the heroes and their rivals as the villains. Someone has been inciting them to fight each other. Worse yet, that someone has apparently developed a device that turns real superpowers into silly ones. Teaching themselves on the fly how to get past their prejudice and work together, Rafter, his little brother, Benny, and Juanita follow a well-laid-out chain of clues and deductions to the climactic discovery of a third, genuinely nefarious family, the Joneses, and a fiendishly clever scheme to dispose of all the Baileys and Johnsons at once. Can they carry the day?

A solid debut: fluent, funny and eminently sequel-worthy. (Adventure. 10-12)

Pub Date: Jan. 21, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-06-220961-0

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Nov. 2, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2013

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