An average mystery for an uncertain audience.

SPEED

From the Seven Prequels series

A budding filmmaker finds opportunity and mystery on a camping trip with his family.

Spencer is on a camping trip with his developmentally delayed younger brother, Bunny, and their mildly mysterious grandfather David. Spencer gets caught up with War of 1812 re-enactors who are being filmed by a group of college students. Since he has a growing interest in moviemaking, the whole process is very appealing for Spencer. The college students take him on as an assistant, a duty Spencer must balance against trying to figure out where his wily brother has disappeared to. Although hints to that mystery abound, ultimately they come to nothing at all; either Bunny isn’t missing, or it doesn’t matter that he is. (Bunny tells his own version of this camping trip in companion novel Weerdest Day Ever!, by Richard Scrimger.) A secondary issue is that one re-enactor seems to be hatching a scheme that perhaps reveals yet another mystery about David. Spencer’s voice is authentic and amusing, but the mystery is never especially compelling. While Staunton spun perfectly fine mysteries starring an older Spencer in Jump Cut (2012) and Coda (2014), he seems particularly hamstrung by the necessity of writing for a younger audience, with the result that the plot fizzles.

An average mystery for an uncertain audience. (Mystery. 8-12)

Pub Date: Sept. 20, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-4598-1161-4

Page Count: 168

Publisher: Orca

Review Posted Online: July 2, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2016

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Japanese-American Aki and her family operate an asparagus farm in Westminster, Calif., until they are summarily uprooted and...

SYLVIA & AKI

Two third-grade girls in California suffer the dehumanizing effects of racial segregation after the Japanese attack Pearl Harbor in 1942 in this moving story based on true events in the lives of Sylvia Mendez and Aki Munemitsu.

Japanese-American Aki and her family operate an asparagus farm in Westminster, Calif., until they are summarily uprooted and dispatched to an internment camp in Poston, Ariz., for the duration of World War II. As Aki endures the humiliation and deprivation of the hot, cramped barracks, she wonders if there’s “something wrong with being Japanese.” Sylvia’s Mexican-American family leases the Munemitsu farm. She expects to attend the local school but faces disappointment when authorities assign her to a separate, second-rate school for Mexican kids. In response, Sylvia’s father brings a legal action against the school district arguing against segregation in what eventually becomes a successful landmark case. Their lives intersect after Sylvia finds Aki’s doll, meets her in Poston and sends her letters. Working with material from interviews, Conkling alternates between Aki and Sylvia’s stories, telling them in the third person from the war’s start in 1942 through its end in 1945, with an epilogue updating Sylvia’s story to 1955.

Pub Date: July 12, 2011

ISBN: 978-1-58246-337-7

Page Count: 160

Publisher: Tricycle

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2011

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An inspiring sports story all the way to the buzzer.

WE ARE FAMILY

Basketball is life in Lorain, Ohio.

A group of seventh graders have different reasons for joining Hoop Group, an elite youth basketball program. Jayden, who lives in a tiny, cramped house with his mother and grandmother, desperately needs the money playing for the NBA would bring. Chris’ uncle made it out of Lorain and into the NBA, but he doesn’t share his uncle’s skills and can’t quite live up to his father’s expectations. Tamika’s dad was Hoop Group’s coach before Parkinson’s disease put the team’s future in jeopardy; she has a lot to prove and dreams of being the next Pat Summitt. Dex and his hardworking single mom are struggling with poverty, but he just loves the game––especially the Cleveland Cavs. And Anthony, frankly, doesn’t have much of a choice; it was either join this character-building group or face expulsion from school. A makeshift team of preteens with a lot on their plates, they discover as much about themselves (and one another) off the court as they do on it. The authors present a convincing argument about the value of basketball beyond points on the board and big contracts. The characters’ dreams are relatable along with the book’s universally valuable emphasis on hard work and perseverance. But the specifics about what it takes to make it in basketball and the fast-paced on-court action provide something special for young fans of the game. Main characters read as Black.

An inspiring sports story all the way to the buzzer. (Fiction. 9-12)

Pub Date: Aug. 31, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-06-297109-8

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: July 8, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2021

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