THE OMINOUS EYE

From the Nocturnals series , Vol. 2

A welcome return of the colorful and curious trio—their next can’t arrive soon enough.

The protectors of the forest return to face a monstrous new threat in the sequel to The Mysterious Abductions (2016).

Sugar glider and master of love Bismark, nervous pangolin Tobin, and fearless fox Dawn—the Nocturnal Brigade—face an unprecedented mystery in the woods. Without warning, the ground cracks, ashes fill the sky, and a large boom shakes the air. No one can predict when the earth will open again or say what is causing this terrible occurrence. A solitary tuatara, Polyphema, appears to have the answers. She tells them a great monster is in their midst, a beast bent on destruction and death. However, something about her raises concerns for Dawn. How does she know of this danger? What brought the creature to the forest? Everyone else believes that Polyphema holds the key to surviving the terror—even Bismark and Tobin believe Polyphema knows best. Will the Nocturnal Brigade survive the rift in their ranks, or will the monster get to them first? Hecht continues to charm readers with delightfully drawn characters and consistent suspense. Bismark's trademark, multilingual adulations fuel both Dawn's eye-rolls and readers' chuckles. Tobin remains cautiously adventurous. His quiet remarks and social perceptiveness ground Bismark's slapstick and elicit warmth from Dawn's cool leadership. Each animal, from the common to the exotic, shines with quirky personality and endearing traits.

A welcome return of the colorful and curious trio—their next can’t arrive soon enough. (Fantasy. 9-12)

Pub Date: Sept. 20, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-944020-03-3

Page Count: 232

Publisher: Fabled Films

Review Posted Online: July 25, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2016

THE WORLD-FAMOUS NINE

A whodunit that doesn’t live up to its intriguing premise.

Coded clues put two young sleuths on the trail of a magic mandala hidden somewhere in a huge, bustling department store.

Hardly has meek young Zander Olinga arrived for a visit with Zina Winebee, his grandmother and owner-manager of the Number Nine Plaza, than he learns of a threat to the continued existence of the renowned emporium. The danger is linked to Darkbloom, a rumored evil spirit set on reversing the good-fortune charm left by Nepali monks at the store’s founding. The stone tablet bearing the magical mandala vanished 90 years ago, and finding its hiding place becomes a race pitting Zander and intrepid new ally Natasha Novikov against unknown saboteurs whose minds have been taken over by Darkbloom. The keys to the tablet’s location are a series of ingenious word and number clues left by Zander’s great-granduncle Vladimir, and Guterson provides enough hints along the way for savvy readers to decode them. What he doesn’t do is give either his leads or the many-faceted store (which, over the course of the story, is explored from the Ferris wheel on its roof to the bakery in the cellar) any more depth or distinctive traits than he gives Nepali religious practice. Darkbloom remains a shadowy bugaboo, its actual nature and motivations unexplained and its fate left anticlimactically unresolved. Zander’s father is from Cameroon, and his mother reads white; names cue some diversity in the supporting cast. Final art not seen. (This review has been updated for factual accuracy.)

A whodunit that doesn’t live up to its intriguing premise. (Mystery. 9-12)

Pub Date: Jan. 30, 2024

ISBN: 9780316484442

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Christy Ottaviano Books

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2023

STAY

Entrancing and uplifting.

A small dog, the elderly woman who owns him, and a homeless girl come together to create a tale of serendipity.

Piper, almost 12, her parents, and her younger brother are at the bottom of a long slide toward homelessness. Finally in a family shelter, Piper finds that her newfound safety gives her the opportunity to reach out to someone who needs help even more. Jewel, mentally ill, lives in the park with her dog, Baby. Unwilling to leave her pet, and forbidden to enter the shelter with him, she struggles with the winter weather. Ree, also homeless and with a large dog, helps when she can, but after Jewel gets sick and is hospitalized, Baby’s taken to the animal shelter, and Ree can’t manage the complex issues alone. It’s Piper, using her best investigative skills, who figures out Jewel’s backstory. Still, she needs all the help of the shelter Firefly Girls troop that she joins to achieve her accomplishment: to raise enough money to provide Jewel and Baby with a secure, hopeful future and, maybe, with their kindness, to inspire a happier story for Ree. Told in the authentic alternating voices of loving child and loyal dog, this tale could easily slump into a syrupy melodrama, but Pyron lets her well-drawn characters earn their believable happy ending, step by challenging step, by reaching out and working together. Piper, her family, and Jewel present white; Pyron uses hair and naming convention, respectively, to cue Ree as black and Piper’s friend Gabriela as Latinx.

Entrancing and uplifting. (Fiction. 9-12)

Pub Date: Aug. 13, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-06-283922-0

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Katherine Tegen/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: April 9, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2019

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