Exciting adventure and honest, insightful characterization—a winner.


Joey and the Magic Map

In this YA novel, a mysterious caretaker, a friendly ghost, and a magic map lead to adventure for a 12-year-boy still grieving his father’s death.

Joey Johanaby, his mother, and 8-year-old twin siblings Glory and Story lost Mr. Johanaby to cancer eight months ago. The family has just moved from Idaho to Tennessee and into a 160-year-old house that’s said to be haunted—but Joey has more immediate problems. His mother needs him to babysit the unmanageable twins, without pay, while she studies online for a new career. Of course, the twins defy him, and Joey always gets the blame. One bright spot is a man named Beezer, a caretaker who has a model-filled workshop in the garage; another is Henrietta Calhoun, the resident ghost. After the family almost suffers another tragedy, Joey receives a magic map that reads, “The adventure starts in Beezer’s room. The adventure ends in your heart.” On this journey, Joey will discover the true natures of love, courage, and family. Anderson (From Hogs to Heaven: The Life of Laurel Rae Dickinson, 2011) draws on some familiar tropes—the magical journey; the dead, absent, or absent-minded parent—but in his hands, they don’t feel rehashed. Magic allows entry to a world where Joey must still rely on his own experience, strength, and courage to succeed, and his insights are well-earned: “It wasn’t danger that was the adventure” but helping others. Anderson thoughtfully depicts how children think and feel, warts and all, such as Joey’s simultaneous pride in and resentment over his responsibilities and his disappointment when a “treasure chest” hidden by Beezer contains only chocolate coins: “He wanted gold, not an object lesson.” Mrs. Johanaby, though she expects too much from Joey, isn’t a cartoon villain but a realistically overburdened woman who wants to do better. Anderson’s exploration of forgiveness is equally thoughtful—even inspiring. Humor, charm, and affection help lighten the book’s serious themes.

Exciting adventure and honest, insightful characterization—a winner.

Pub Date: Nov. 26, 2013

ISBN: 978-1483961682

Page Count: 218

Publisher: Toryander Books

Review Posted Online: May 6, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 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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With comically realistic black-and-white illustrations by Selznick (The Robot King, 1995, etc.), this is a captivating...


Nicholas is a bright boy who likes to make trouble at school, creatively. 

When he decides to torment his fifth-grade English teacher, Mrs. Granger (who is just as smart as he is), by getting everyone in the class to replace the word "pen'' with "frindle,'' he unleashes a series of events that rapidly spins out of control. If there's any justice in the world, Clements (Temple Cat, 1995, etc.) may have something of a classic on his hands. By turns amusing and adroit, this first novel is also utterly satisfying. The chess-like sparring between the gifted Nicholas and his crafty teacher is enthralling, while Mrs. Granger is that rarest of the breed: a teacher the children fear and complain about for the school year, and love and respect forever after. 

With comically realistic black-and-white illustrations by Selznick (The Robot King, 1995, etc.), this is a captivating tale—one to press upon children, and one they'll be passing among themselves. (Fiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1996

ISBN: 0-689-80669-8

Page Count: 105

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 1996

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