A nimble, expertly paced middle-grade adventure yarn.

READ REVIEW

QUEST FOR THE SPARK

BOOK TWO

From the Bone series , Vol. 2

The Bone universe proves that it can still expand without spreading thin.

As introduced in the previous volume (2011), The Valley, still under a nightmare sleep, awaits rescue from a motley crew of Bones, beasts, a boy and a brawny priest. Jumping right in where the action left off, readers discover that the Nacht’s evil power is strengthening. Tom and his crew are still seeking to reunite pieces of the Spark, and in this adventure, they face some of the most dire peril the group has yet encountered: giant bears and bees, a horrible airship accident and the trek to distant Lorimar, a forest spirit with magical powers. As they battle and overcome these obstacles hurled at them by the Nacht, it seems that they’re getting closer to waking the Valley—but does the Nacht have a plan that may sabotage the group from within? Sniegoski’s writing is strong and swift, and it properly propels the action needed to fuel such a broad crusade. However, those new to the series will want to read this series sequentially: The burst into action offers little back story, and many of the running jokes will be missed without it. An expected cliffhanger will leave readers clamoring for the final installment.

A nimble, expertly paced middle-grade adventure yarn. (Fantasy/adventure. 9 & up)

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-545-14103-1

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Graphix/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Jan. 4, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2012

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A brisk, buffed-up finish threaded with inner and outer, not to mention sartorial, changes.

THE TOWER OF NERO

From the Trials of Apollo series , Vol. 5

In this tumultuous series closer, Apollo, transformed into a mortal teenager, takes on both a deified emperor in a luxurious Manhattan high-rise and an older adversary.

Lester/Apollo’s coast-to-coast quest reaches its climactic stage as, with help from both eager squads of fledgling demigods from Camp Half-Blood and reluctant allies from realms deep below New York, he invades the palatial lair of Emperor Nero—followed by a solo bout with another foe from a past struggle. Riordan lays on the transformation of the heedless, arrogant sun god to a repentant lover of his long-neglected semidivine offspring and of humanity in general, which has served as the series’ binding theme, thickly enough to have his humbled narrator even apologizing (twice!) to his underwear for having to change it periodically. Still, the author delivers a fast, action-driven plot with high stakes, lots of fighting, and occasional splashes of gore brightened by banter and silly bits, so readers aren’t likely to mind all the hand-wringing. He also leaves any real-life parallels to the slick, megalomaniacal, emotionally abusive Nero entirely up to readers to discern and dishes out just deserts all round, neatly tying up loose ends in a set of closing vignettes. The supporting cast is predominantly White, with passing mention of diverse representation.

A brisk, buffed-up finish threaded with inner and outer, not to mention sartorial, changes. (glossary) (Fantasy. 10-14)

Pub Date: Oct. 6, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4847-4645-5

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion

Review Posted Online: Oct. 22, 2020

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A well-Crafted, visually rich, truth-telling tale for our troubled times that affirms the eternal importance of friends.

CLASS ACT

Jordan Banks has returned to the elite Riverdale Academy Day School for eighth grade, and although he still doesn’t smell like an eighth grade boy—much to his dismay—his growth spurt comes in other forms.

Unlike New Kid (2019), this sequel offers the perspectives of not just Jordan, but also his best friend, Drew, and his wealthy White friend, Liam. As Jordan navigates what may be his last year at RAD before transferring to art school, he frequently compares his experiences with Drew’s: Both boys are Black, but Drew is taller, more athletic, and has darker skin. Drew also has a new flattop that attracts unwanted touching from non-Black kids. This story focuses on how differently RAD students and teachers treat light-skinned Jordan and dark-skinned Drew and also how middle-class Jordan, working-class Drew, and rich Liam negotiate a friendship of mutual respect and care. RAD administrators and teachers have also realized that they need to work on diversity, equity, and inclusion, but their leadership choice for this initiative results in more microaggressions for the students of color. Jordan’s cartoon “intermissions,” black-and-white pencil sketches, capture his imaginative wit while conveying perceptive observations about race and class that ring true. Each chapter’s title page textually and illustratively echoes popular graphic works for young readers such as Jeff Kinney’s Diary of a Wimpy Kid.

A well-Crafted, visually rich, truth-telling tale for our troubled times that affirms the eternal importance of friends. (author's note) (Graphic fiction. 9-14)

Pub Date: Oct. 6, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-288551-7

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Quill Tree Books/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: July 28, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2020

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