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From the Middle School and Other Disasters series , Vol. 2

An entertaining and funny take on middle school drama with a light magical touch.

Heidi is a young witch attending middle school at Broomsfield Academy, a boarding school catering to both magical and nonmagical students.

Kids with magical powers must only use those skills for schoolwork, but Heidi can’t always control herself, like when she’s running late for class and needs to get dressed in a hurry. Her obsession with classmate Hunter McCann (aka Hunter McCutie) is threatening to take over her life. Melanie, her roommate and once her hometown enemy but now almost a friend, also has a crush on Hunter, who is actually a really nice boy. Heidi tries to hide her feelings from Melanie, but she pours out her heart to good friends Sunny and Annabelle. She also writes to Lucy, her BFF back home, about her situation. While Melanie is interested in flirting and makeup, Heidi’s closest friends give her good advice: “Just be yourself.” Nevertheless, Heidi keeps using witchcraft: first, growing long hair to attract Hunter (it backfires when her hair grows uncontrollably). She later attempts the love potion spell that inspires the title, hoping to isolate Hunter so that she can have him to herself. However, Heidi soon learns how harmful her behavior was. Readers looking for breezy fare will enjoy this second series installment, which uses varied size fonts, ample white space, and humorous digital grayscale illustrations. Most main characters present white.

An entertaining and funny take on middle school drama with a light magical touch. (Fiction. 9-12)

Pub Date: Aug. 29, 2023

ISBN: 9781665937207

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Simon Spotlight

Review Posted Online: June 8, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2023

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Charming, poignant, and thoughtfully woven.

An aspiring scientist and a budding artist become friends and help each other with dream projects.

Unfolding in mid-1980s Sacramento, California, this story stars 12-year-olds Rosalind and Benjamin as first-person narrators in alternating chapters. Ro’s father, a fellow space buff, was killed by a drunk driver; the rocket they were working on together lies unfinished in her closet. As for Benji, not only has his best friend, Amir, moved away, but the comic book holding the clue for locating his dad is also missing. Along with their profound personal losses, the protagonists share a fixation with the universe’s intriguing potential: Ro decides to complete the rocket and hopes to launch mementos of her father into outer space while Benji’s conviction that aliens and UFOs are real compels his imagination and creativity as an artist. An accident in science class triggers a chain of events forcing Benji and Ro, who is new to the school, to interact and unintentionally learn each other’s secrets. They resolve to find Benji’s dad—a famous comic-book artist—and partner to finish Ro’s rocket for the science fair. Together, they overcome technical, scheduling, and geographical challenges. Readers will be drawn in by amusing and fantastical elements in the comic book theme, high emotional stakes that arouse sympathy, and well-drawn character development as the protagonists navigate life lessons around grief, patience, self-advocacy, and standing up for others. Ro is biracial (Chinese/White); Benji is White.

Charming, poignant, and thoughtfully woven. (Fiction. 9-12)

Pub Date: Jan. 12, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-06-300888-5

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Quill Tree Books/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Oct. 26, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2020

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A deftly told story that dramatizes how Danes appointed themselves bodyguards—not only for their king, who was in the habit...

The author of the Anastasia books as well as more serious fiction (Rabble Starkey, 1987) offers her first historical fiction—a story about the escape of the Jews from Denmark in 1943.

Five years younger than Lisa in Carol Matas' Lisa's War (1989), Annemarie Johansen has, at 10, known three years of Nazi occupation. Though ever cautious and fearful of the ubiquitous soldiers, she is largely unaware of the extent of the danger around her; the Resistance kept even its participants safer by telling them as little as possible, and Annemarie has never been told that her older sister Lise died in its service. When the Germans plan to round up the Jews, the Johansens take in Annemarie's friend, Ellen Rosen, and pretend she is their daughter; later, they travel to Uncle Hendrik's house on the coast, where the Rosens and other Jews are transported by fishing boat to Sweden. Apart from Lise's offstage death, there is little violence here; like Annemarie, the reader is protected from the full implications of events—but will be caught up in the suspense and menace of several encounters with soldiers and in Annemarie's courageous run as courier on the night of the escape. The book concludes with the Jews' return, after the war, to homes well kept for them by their neighbors.

A deftly told story that dramatizes how Danes appointed themselves bodyguards—not only for their king, who was in the habit of riding alone in Copenhagen, but for their Jews. (Historical fiction. 9-12)

Pub Date: April 1, 1989

ISBN: 0547577095

Page Count: 156

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin

Review Posted Online: Oct. 17, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 1989

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