When Rachel’s mother runs away from home, Rachel and her dad can barely cope. In a series of bland verses, Rachel breaks up the time since her mother’s flight into sections labeled, The First Day, The First Week, The First Month, The First Year. As she and her father get to know one another, they cope with grief, guilt and their newly-forming affection for each other. Rachel’s initial shock and fury are tempered as she learns how her seemingly distant father always wanted a child and so convinced his pregnant, bipolar girlfriend to stay with him and raise their baby. Rachel’s growing comprehension of her mother’s mental illness is heartbreaking, despite the story’s troubling judgmental perspective of a severely ill woman whose issues with unplanned motherhood are presented as indifference. Despite weaknesses, a poignant tale of father-daughter love and friendship. (Fiction. 10-12)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2006

ISBN: 1-58246-180-5

Page Count: 176

Publisher: Tricycle

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2006

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Emily’s motives turn out to be little more than a pretext, but the author delivers another clever, suspenseful drama in the...


Vande Velde again traps teenagers inside an authentically depicted arcade game—but here she works twists into the premise that are both amusing and crank up the danger.

As in User Unfriendly (1991) and Heir Apparent (2002), the game, called “The Land of Golden Butterflies,” is manufactured by the shadowy Rasmussem Corp. and is fully immersive, fed directly into the brain through electrodes. Into this game 14-year-old Grace Pizzelli’s big sister Emily has gone; moreover, she has refused to come out and altered the code so she can’t be forcibly ejected. As sessions that run longer than a few hours cause brain damage and death, the corporation desperately turns to Grace to follow Emily in and persuade her to leave. Reluctantly agreeing, Grace discovers to her disgust that, rather than offering the usual heroic-fantasy or science-fiction setting, this digital world has been colored in pinks and lavenders. It is stocked with (supposedly) benign magical creatures and hunky male servitors—in general, it seems designed to cater to 10-year-old would-be princesses. The idyll has gone sour, though, because thanks to Emily’s fiddling, not only have the wish-granting sprites turned nasty, but the game’s governing Artificial Intelligence has changed the Rules—disabling the “Quit” function and forcing both Grace and her already-failing sister to embark on a seemingly hopeless quest with their real lives at stake.

Emily’s motives turn out to be little more than a pretext, but the author delivers another clever, suspenseful drama in the digital domain. (Science fiction. 10-12)

Pub Date: July 10, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-547-73850-5

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Harcourt

Review Posted Online: April 12, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2012

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Stenhouse continues his story begun in Across the Steel River (not reviewed) with another mystery laced with tones of racial bias and starring the same two boys, Will, who’s white, and Arthur, a Blackfoot Indian. The title holds double meaning: “deed,” as in an action, in this case one against decency, justice, and the Indian people of a small Canadian town on Alberta’s prairies. The other meaning, a title to land ownership, here refers to that deeded to an Indian during WWI by the most powerful, cruel, and unjust white man in town, “old man Howe.” Now, during the Korean War in 1952, Howe will stop at nothing to retrieve the document that has passed to other generations of the original deed-holder’s family. Told in the first person, the adventure-mystery speeds along as the town, its inhabitants, its setting, and history are revealed. Howe controls the Mounties, the town’s business, and a gang of thugs who do his bidding, often cruel and physically destructive to those who oppose him. The too-large cast weaves in and out of Will’s narrative and relationships become hazy. Throughout, Will and Arthur meet with near-escapes, but there are so many cliffhangers that it stretches reader credulity. The latter is especially so, given the uncertain duration of the endless action, which may cover only a few days and nights. A good many unexplained incidents also occur and may leave a reader unclear about them as real experiences or as mere figments of Will’s dreams. Despite a very active plot that portrays the degradation of Canada’s first People, Stenhouse tries to do too much and, as a result, fails. (Fiction. 10-12)

Pub Date: March 1, 2003

ISBN: 1-55337-360-X

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Kids Can

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2003

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