Readers will be quickly and surely drawn in by quirky siblings Grover and Sudie, rooting for them to find a measure of peace...

WHAT I CAME TO TELL YOU

Two lovable, grief-stricken children try to find their footing after their mother’s death in a senseless accident.

Twelve-year-old Grover and his little sister, Sudie, have already lost their mother, and now their father, director of the Thomas Wolfe house in Asheville, N.C., has practically disappeared as well, throwing himself into his work. Grover and Sudie spend most of their time in the city’s Bamboo Forest, where Grover creates intricate weavings from bamboo, leaves and grass. When kids Emma Lee and Clay move in next door from Roan Mountain, Grover and Sudie discover they have the loss of a parent in common; Emma Lee and Clay’s father was killed in Iraq. In addition to grief, this ambitious offering explores the meanings and value of art, faith and destiny, and Appalachian mountain culture. In a scene related to the latter, a student throws the slur “hillbilly” in Emma Lee’s direction, and a boy named Daniel remarks that “ ‘Hillbilly’ is kind of like the N-word...except it’s talking about mountain people.” In some instances, the text veers toward the didactic, but the compelling characters and engaging prose put it squarely in the win column.

Readers will be quickly and surely drawn in by quirky siblings Grover and Sudie, rooting for them to find a measure of peace and happiness in the wake of tragedy. (Fiction. 10-14)

Pub Date: Sept. 24, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-60684-433-5

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Egmont USA

Review Posted Online: June 26, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2013

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Likely to sell in spades but a slipshod, slapdash outing from co-authors who usually have higher standards.

BEST NERDS FOREVER

Two young ghosts with unfinished business in this world join forces.

Eighth grade cyclist Finn McAllister decides to undertake a search for the supposedly crazed driver who forced him off the road and over a cliff to his death, but he spends far more of his time attending his own funeral, hovering near his grieving family and his four besties to overhear conversations, and floating through school—skipping the girls’ restroom because he still has some standards—and positively hammering on the realization that wasting any of life’s opportunities can only lead to regret. He discovers that he can still taste ice cream, smell farts, skip stones in the local lake, and use a TV remote. He can also share thoughts with both the living and with Isabella Rojas, the ghost of a classmate who vanished several months previously but is still hanging around, although she is not sure why. Eventually, in a massively contrived climax that leaves both souls ready to move on, Finn comes up with a scheme to produce proof of Isabella’s death to bring closure to her mother and also absolves his hit-and-run driver of fault (for a reason readers will see coming). In this outing, the usually dynamic duo throws together an aimless ramble around a set of flimsy mysteries that fail to coalesce. Finn reads as White; Isabella is cued as Latinx. Final illustrations not seen.

Likely to sell in spades but a slipshod, slapdash outing from co-authors who usually have higher standards. (Paranormal fantasy. 10-13)

Pub Date: May 3, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-316-50024-1

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Jimmy Patterson/HMH Books

Review Posted Online: July 8, 2021

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Longing—for connection, for family, for a voice—roars to life with just a touch of magic.

Our Verdict

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  • Kirkus Reviews'
    Best Books Of 2020

  • New York Times Bestseller

  • IndieBound Bestseller

  • Asian/Pacific American Award for Literature Winner

  • Newbery Medal Winner

WHEN YOU TRAP A TIGER

A young girl bargaining for the health of her grandmother discovers both her family’s past and the strength of her own voice.

For many years, Lily’s Korean grandmother, Halmoni, has shared her Asian wisdom and healing powers with her predominantly White community. When Lily, her sister, Sam—both biracial, Korean and White—and their widowed mom move in with Halmoni to be close with her as she ages, Lily begins to see a magical tiger. What were previously bedtime stories become dangerously prophetic, as Lily begins to piece together fact from fiction. There is no need for prior knowledge of Korean folktales, although a traditional Korean myth propels the story forward. From the tiger, Lily learns that Halmoni has bottled up the hard stories of her past to keep sadness at bay. Lily makes a deal with the tiger to heal her grandmother by releasing those stories. What she comes to realize is that healing doesn’t mean health and that Halmoni is not the only one in need of the power of storytelling. Interesting supporting characters are fully developed but used sparingly to keep the focus on the simple yet suspenseful plot. Keller infuses this tale, which explores both the end of life and coming-of-age, with a sensitive examination of immigration issues and the complexity of home. It is at one and the same time completely American and thoroughly informed by Korean culture.

Longing—for connection, for family, for a voice—roars to life with just a touch of magic. (Fiction. 10-14)

Pub Date: Jan. 28, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5247-1570-0

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: Sept. 29, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2019

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