SAMMY KEYES AND THE KILLER CRUISE

From the Sammy Keyes Mysteries series , Vol. 18

A celebratory cruise leads to mischief and mystery for Sammy as she embarks upon a memorable journey.

In this second-to-last title in the long-running series, Sammy is in the midst of transition. In addition to her BFF Marissa’s impending move and her grandmother’s second marriage, Sammy has just begun establishing a relationship with her recently discovered father, Darren, who happens to be a famous musician. In honor of Sammy’s 14th birthday—and in an endeavor to further their relationship—Darren invites Sammy and Marissa to accompany him on a cruise where his band will be performing. Nautical life quickly becomes complicated for the irrepressible sleuth. After meeting JT and Kip, members of the wealthy Kensington family, Sammy and Marissa inadvertently become embroiled in their family drama. When the Kensington family matriarch goes missing midcruise, Sammy joins Kip in his quest to discover what happened to his grandmother. Van Draanen provides a satisfyingly convoluted mystery for Sammy—and readers—to unravel. Secret codes, greedy heirs and ambiguous clues test Sammy’s sleuthing mettle. However, at the center of this tale is the emotional journey Sammy takes as she navigates her fledgling relationship with her father. Their emerging bond reveals a new emotional dimension to the savvy teen. Van Draanen’s latest tale combines a fresh adventure and diverting mystery with a heartfelt storyline that enriches the series. (Mystery. 10-14)

 

Pub Date: Sept. 10, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-375-87054-5

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: June 26, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2013

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A sly, side-splitting hoot from start to finish.

THE MECHANICAL MIND OF JOHN COGGIN

The dreary prospect of spending a lifetime making caskets instead of wonderful inventions prompts a young orphan to snatch up his little sister and flee. Where? To the circus, of course.

Fortunately or otherwise, John and 6-year-old Page join up with Boz—sometime human cannonball for the seedy Wandering Wayfarers and a “vertically challenged” trickster with a fantastic gift for sowing chaos. Alas, the budding engineer barely has time to settle in to begin work on an experimental circus wagon powered by chicken poop and dubbed (with questionable forethought) the Autopsy. The hot pursuit of malign and indomitable Great-Aunt Beauregard, the Coggins’ only living relative, forces all three to leave the troupe for further flights and misadventures. Teele spins her adventure around a sturdy protagonist whose love for his little sister is matched only by his fierce desire for something better in life for them both and tucks in an outstanding supporting cast featuring several notably strong-minded, independent women (Page, whose glare “would kill spiders dead,” not least among them). Better yet, in Boz she has created a scene-stealing force of nature, a free spirit who’s never happier than when he’s stirring up mischief. A climactic clutch culminating in a magnificently destructive display of fireworks leaves the Coggin sibs well-positioned for bright futures. (Illustrations not seen.)

A sly, side-splitting hoot from start to finish. (Adventure. 11-13)

Pub Date: April 12, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-06-234510-3

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Walden Pond Press/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2016

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Guaranteed to enchant, enthrall, and enmagick.

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THE GIRL WHO DRANK THE MOON

An elderly witch, a magical girl, a brave carpenter, a wise monster, a tiny dragon, paper birds, and a madwoman converge to thwart a magician who feeds on sorrow.

Every year Elders of the Protectorate leave a baby in the forest, warning everyone an evil Witch demands this sacrifice. In reality, every year, a kind witch named Xan rescues the babies and find families for them. One year Xan saves a baby girl with a crescent birthmark who accidentally feeds on moonlight and becomes “enmagicked.” Magic babies can be tricky, so Xan adopts little Luna herself and lovingly raises her, with help from an ancient swamp monster and a chatty, wee dragon. Luna’s magical powers emerge as her 13th birthday approaches. Meanwhile, Luna’s deranged real mother enters the forest to find her daughter. Simultaneously, a young carpenter from the Protectorate enters the forest to kill the Witch and end the sacrifices. Xan also enters the forest to rescue the next sacrificed child, and Luna, the monster, and the dragon enter the forest to protect Xan. In the dramatic denouement, a volcano erupts, the real villain attempts to destroy all, and love prevails. Replete with traditional motifs, this nontraditional fairy tale boasts sinister and endearing characters, magical elements, strong storytelling, and unleashed forces. Luna has black eyes, curly, black hair, and “amber” skin.

Guaranteed to enchant, enthrall, and enmagick. (Fantasy. 10-14)

Pub Date: Aug. 9, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-61620-567-6

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Algonquin

Review Posted Online: May 14, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2016

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