In equal parts philosophical and wryly humorous, this magical tale will satisfy both fans and new readers alike

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13 GIFTS

From the Willow Falls series , Vol. 3

A rash decision involving attempted theft of a school mascot sets into motion a series of life-altering events for nearly–13-year-old Tara.

Mysteries abound as readers return to Willow Falls in this third installment of the series. Years of constant relocation have caused the reclusive Tara to avoid forming friendships. She also longs to understand her mother’s mystifying need to continually move. Banished to her aunt’s house for the summer, Tara soon finds herself embroiled in another mishap. Mass revisits familiar ground with a plot that loosely follows the formula of her previous novels, 11 Birthdays (2009) and Finally (2010): The protagonist is on the cusp of a birthday and must go through a journey of self-discovery and enlightenment guided by the enigmatic Angelina. In payment for her misdeeds, Tara must complete a curious scavenger hunt before her 13th birthday but soon discovers she requires the help—and maybe even the friendship—of others. Tara’s quirky personality invigorates the familiar plot. Mass skillfully resolves mysteries while perpetuating Willow Falls’ mystique. Readers will be eager to discover the outcome of Tara’s quest.

In equal parts philosophical and wryly humorous, this magical tale will satisfy both fans and new readers alike  . (Fiction. 9-13)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-545-31003-1

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: July 5, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2011

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Readers who don’t need endings tied up with tight little bows will find much to think about here.

INFINITE SKY

Tragedy emerges from the commonplace miseries of everyday life in this evocative mood piece.

Thirteen-year-old Iris lives with her dad and older brother, Sam, in rural England. Until recently, Iris and Sam had a mum as well, but she’s taken off to Tunisia on a mission to find herself. Now Sam’s associating with ruffians, Dad’s taken to drinking, and Iris is avoiding her best friend, unable to bear the smug pity. When a few caravans of Irish “travelers” squat illegally in Dad’s paddock, Iris sees the possibility of something fresh and untainted in her life. But Dad and Sam loathe the travelers, calling them “Gypsies,” “parasites” and worse. Iris strikes up a friendship—and maybe more?—with 14-year-old Trick, but her father becomes increasingly erratic as he sees his control over his family slipping away. Her Dad repeatedly threatens eviction, and Iris must decide whom to believe in the face of petty crime. A senseless act of violence leads to heavily foreshadowed tragedy. This brief, gloomy debut concludes tidily though with an unclear trajectory: After a summer’s adventure, everyone’s right where they started yet nothing’s the same, mirroring the intransigence of hate.

Readers who don’t need endings tied up with tight little bows will find much to think about here. (Fiction. 10-13)

Pub Date: May 27, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4814-0658-1

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Atheneum

Review Posted Online: March 12, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2014

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Myers once again offers a story of smart kids living out their middle school days as Cruisers “on the high seas of life.”...

OH, SNAP!

From the Cruisers series , Vol. 4

The fourth installment of the Cruisers series finds Zander Scott and friends unwittingly involved in an international investigation.

Zander, Bobbi, LaShonda and Kambui are middle school students at Harlem’s Da Vinci Academy for the Gifted and Talented. Their alternative newspaper, The Cruiser, came in third on the School Journalism Association’s list of best school newspapers. Good for them, not so good for Ashley Schmidt, editor of Da Vinci’s official newspaper, The Palette, which received no recognition. “I’m going to bury you and your stupid newspaper!” hisses Ashley, who’s planning on a monthly reprinting of 200 words from the British newspaper the Guardian to borrow a bit of glory. Zander decides to do the same and somehow thinks it’s a good idea to tell the folks at London’s Phoenix School about the pictures Kambui took that place their “Genius Gangsta” friend Phat Tony at the mall when a robbery occurred there. Tony denies being at the mall, and the Cruisers haven’t told anyone else about the pictures, so the British school contacts Scotland Yard, and now Zander and company may be in big trouble. As with the previous three installments, this sparkles with intelligent dialogue and clever banter, all while advancing a story in which Zander ponders journalism, academics, girls, and even the Fibonacci sequence and the grand design of the universe.

Myers once again offers a story of smart kids living out their middle school days as Cruisers “on the high seas of life.” (Fiction. 9-13)

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-439-91629-5

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: May 8, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2013

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