The resolution is bittersweet but faintly hopeful—a fitting end for an unflinchingly gutsy series whose deftly drawn...

GREGOR AND THE CODE OF CLAW

From the Underland Chronicles series , Vol. 5

At the opening of this, the fifth and final entry in The Underland Chronicles, Gregor discovers why no one has told him what’s in “The Prophecy of Time”: He is to die.

In short order, an airlift of mouse refugees to Regalia, capital of the human territories in the Underland, gives way to a siege by the fascist Bane and his rat hordes, abetted by the giant moles the humans had displaced centuries before when they came to the Underland. As gallons of blood spill, Gregor’s math-whiz sister Lizzie helps a multi-species team break the rats’ Code of Claw, and Gregor himself agonizes over whether the cause for which he fights is a just one. Perhaps Collins’s greatest achievement in these tales is the effortless introduction of weighty geopolitical ethics into rip-roaring adventure. It seems as elusive in the Underland as up above, but Gregor and his companions, including the unforgettable rat Ripred, may yet find a way.

The resolution is bittersweet but faintly hopeful—a fitting end for an unflinchingly gutsy series whose deftly drawn characters have always lived dangerously. (Fiction. 9-12)

Pub Date: May 1, 2007

ISBN: 978-0-439-79143-4

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2007

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Poet Alexander deftly reveals the power of the format to pack an emotional punch.

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THE CROSSOVER

Basketball-playing twins find challenges to their relationship on and off the court as they cope with changes in their lives.

Josh Bell and his twin, Jordan, aka JB, are stars of their school basketball team. They are also successful students, since their educator mother will stand for nothing else. As the two middle schoolers move to a successful season, readers can see their differences despite the sibling connection. After all, Josh has dreadlocks and is quiet on court, and JB is bald and a trash talker. Their love of the sport comes from their father, who had also excelled in the game, though his championship was achieved overseas. Now, however, he does not have a job and seems to have health problems the parents do not fully divulge to the boys. The twins experience their first major rift when JB is attracted to a new girl in their school, and Josh finds himself without his brother. This novel in verse is rich in character and relationships. Most interesting is the family dynamic that informs so much of the narrative, which always reveals, never tells. While Josh relates the story, readers get a full picture of major and minor players. The basketball action provides energy and rhythm for a moving story.

Poet Alexander deftly reveals the power of the format to pack an emotional punch. (Verse fiction. 9-12)

Pub Date: March 18, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-544-10771-7

Page Count: 240

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: Dec. 18, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2014

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BECAUSE OF WINN-DIXIE

A 10-year old girl learns to adjust to a strange town, makes some fascinating friends, and fills the empty space in her heart thanks to a big old stray dog in this lyrical, moving, and enchanting book by a fresh new voice. India Opal’s mama left when she was only three, and her father, “the preacher,” is absorbed in his own loss and in the work of his new ministry at the Open-Arms Baptist Church of Naomi [Florida]. Enter Winn-Dixie, a dog who “looked like a big piece of old brown carpet that had been left out in the rain.” But, this dog had a grin “so big that it made him sneeze.” And, as Opal says, “It’s hard not to immediately fall in love with a dog who has a good sense of humor.” Because of Winn-Dixie, Opal meets Miss Franny Block, an elderly lady whose papa built her a library of her own when she was just a little girl and she’s been the librarian ever since. Then, there’s nearly blind Gloria Dump, who hangs the empty bottle wreckage of her past from the mistake tree in her back yard. And, Otis, oh yes, Otis, whose music charms the gerbils, rabbits, snakes and lizards he’s let out of their cages in the pet store. Brush strokes of magical realism elevate this beyond a simple story of friendship to a well-crafted tale of community and fellowship, of sweetness, sorrow and hope. And, it’s funny, too. A real gem. (Fiction. 9-12)

Pub Date: March 1, 2000

ISBN: 0-7636-0776-2

Page Count: 182

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2000

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