SEBASTIAN DARKE

PRINCE OF EXPLORERS

“Wherever we go we encounter horrible, creepy, nasty things that want to kill us,” exclaims buffalope Max in this third fantasy featuring Max, elfling Sebastian and diminutive warrior Cornelius. Following hair-raising escapades in Sebastian Darke: Prince of Fools (2008) and Sebastian Darke: Prince of Pirates (2009), the three friends seek the legendary lost city of Mendip, where fabulous treasure and ill fortune await. Wounded en route by murderous Gograth, Sebastian’s rescued by Keera, a strong-willed female of the Jilith tribe who quickly falls for him. After Cornelius successfully defeats the Gograth, the expedition survives a harrowing raft ride, carnivorous water dragons and Mendip’s ghoulish Night Runners to escape with treasure in tow. With Cornelius as bold strategist, Sebastian as kind-hearted humanist and Max as comic relief, friendship remains key in this adventure that questions the moral price of fortune hunting while maintaining the rapid pace and successful formula of its predecessors. Duddle's black-and-white illustrations capture key events. The unresolved finale suggests the possibility of still further adventures for this fearless trio. (Fantasy. 12-17)

Pub Date: April 13, 2010

ISBN: 978-0-385-73469-1

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: Dec. 29, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2010

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An emotionally engaging closer that fumbles in its final moments.

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ALWAYS AND FOREVER, LARA JEAN

From the To All the Boys I've Loved Before series , Vol. 3

Lara Jean prepares for college and a wedding.

Korean-American Lara Jean is finally settled into a nice, complication-free relationship with her white boyfriend, Peter. But things don’t stay simple for long. When college acceptance letters roll in, Peter and Lara Jean discover they’re heading in different directions. As the two discuss the long-distance thing, Lara Jean’s widower father is making a major commitment: marrying the neighbor lady he’s been dating. The whirlwind of a wedding, college visits, prom, and the last few months of senior year provides an excellent backdrop for this final book about Lara Jean. The characters ping from event to event with emotions always at the forefront. Han further develops her cast, pushing them to new maturity and leaving few stones unturned. There’s only one problem here, and it’s what’s always held this series back from true greatness: Peter. Despite Han’s best efforts to flesh out Peter with abandonment issues and a crummy dad, he remains little more than a handsome jock. Frankly, Lara Jean and Peter may have cute teen chemistry, but Han's nuanced characterizations have often helped to subvert typical teen love-story tropes. This knowing subversion is frustratingly absent from the novel's denouement.

An emotionally engaging closer that fumbles in its final moments. (Romance. 14-17)

Pub Date: May 2, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4814-3048-7

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: March 29, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2017

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THE BOY IN THE STRIPED PAJAMAS

After Hitler appoints Bruno’s father commandant of Auschwitz, Bruno (nine) is unhappy with his new surroundings compared to the luxury of his home in Berlin. The literal-minded Bruno, with amazingly little political and social awareness, never gains comprehension of the prisoners (all in “striped pajamas”) or the malignant nature of the death camp. He overcomes loneliness and isolation only when he discovers another boy, Shmuel, on the other side of the camp’s fence. For months, the two meet, becoming secret best friends even though they can never play together. Although Bruno’s family corrects him, he childishly calls the camp “Out-With” and the Fuhrer “Fury.” As a literary device, it could be said to be credibly rooted in Bruno’s consistent, guileless characterization, though it’s difficult to believe in reality. The tragic story’s point of view is unique: the corrosive effect of brutality on Nazi family life as seen through the eyes of a naïf. Some will believe that the fable form, in which the illogical may serve the objective of moral instruction, succeeds in Boyle’s narrative; others will believe it was the wrong choice. Certain to provoke controversy and difficult to see as a book for children, who could easily miss the painful point. (Fiction. 12-14)

Pub Date: Sept. 12, 2006

ISBN: 0-385-75106-0

Page Count: 224

Publisher: David Fickling/Random

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2006

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