A darkly polished superteen adventure.




This YA novel stars a handicapped teen with special powers striving to make the most of his traumatic past.

High school student Benjamin Brown is new to Seattle. He escaped a turbulent home life near San Diego after his mother ran off and his alcoholic father crippled his leg. Now he lives alone, spending much of his time with his best friends, Maddy and Baffle, in Goodturn’s pawnshop. The teens witness the tiny, elderly Mr. Goodturn disarm and dismiss a robber without using violence. Goodturn reveals to Benjamin that he has a “knack” for slowing down time and another for manipulating people’s minds. Further, the older man knows that Benjamin has a knack, too. The boy can create illusions, and he uses playing cards to perform magic shows in parks. This earns him enough money to support himself and rent an apartment that’s decorated as if his mom lives there (her whereabouts are unknown). As Benjamin masters his knack—making new friends and enemies along the way—he and the tomboyish Maddy grow closer. Meanwhile, Baffle digs into Goodturn’s past only to find inconsistencies that force Ben to question his mentor’s intentions. Then there’s the eerie Miss Hoch, from Social Services, who’s been lingering like a spider in the corners of Benjamin’s life. Author Twitchel has conceived a hard-luck tale that would make YA scribe Jerry Spinelli swoon. He writes realistically likable—and loathsome—characters, and Ben narrates with a tough-as-nails voice he might have picked up reading pulp fiction magazines (Baffle has “a little angst, but what teen doesn’t have an account at that bank?”). Goodturn is an extraordinary creation, perfectly representing the ethical gray zone that many teens grow up protected from. He tells Ben that “to acquire wisdom a man must suffer, whether it is physical, mental or emotional.” And these characters do suffer—in brutal ways that mark this novel for older teens and adults looking for a page-turner in which the multitudinous plot threads never tangle. Twitchel’s cliffhanger perfectly lures readers toward the sequel.

A darkly polished superteen adventure.

Pub Date: July 7, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-941142-82-0

Page Count: 386

Publisher: Jetlaunch

Review Posted Online: Sept. 14, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2015

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The book is perfect for read-alouds, with occasional, often onomatopoeic Spanish words such as “quiquiriquí,” “tacatac” and...


Inspired by Colombian librarian Luis Soriano Bohórquez, Brown’s latest tells of a little girl whose wish comes true when a librarian and two book-laden burros visit her remote village.

Ana loves to read and spends all of her free time either reading alone or to her younger brother. She knows every word of the one book she owns. Although she uses her imagination to create fantastical bedtime tales for her brother, she really wants new books to read. Everything changes when a traveling librarian and his two donkeys, Alfa and Beto, arrive in the village. Besides loaning books to the children until his next visit, the unnamed man also reads them stories and teaches the younger children the alphabet. When Ana suggests that someone write a book about the traveling library, he encourages her to complete this task herself. After she reads her library books, Ana writes her own story for the librarian and gives it to him upon his reappearance—and he makes it part of his biblioburro collection. Parra’s colorful folk-style illustrations of acrylics on board bring Ana’s real and imaginary worlds to life. This is a child-centered complement to Jeanette Winter’s Biblioburro (2010), which focuses on Soriano.

The book is perfect for read-alouds, with occasional, often onomatopoeic Spanish words such as “quiquiriquí,” “tacatac” and “iii-aah” adding to the fun.   (author’s note, glossary of Spanish terms) (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: July 12, 2011

ISBN: 978-1-58246-353-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Tricycle

Review Posted Online: June 6, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2011

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This companion piece to the other fairy tales Marcia Brown has interpreted (see Puss In Boots, 1952, p. 548 and others) has the smoothness of a good translation and a unique charm to her feathery light pictures. The pictures have been done in sunset colors and the spreads on each page as they illustrate the story have the cumulative effect of soft cloud banks. Gentle.

Pub Date: June 15, 1954

ISBN: 0684126761

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Scribner

Review Posted Online: Oct. 26, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1954

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