Such stronger middle-grade narratives interweaving sports and life’s struggles as Newbery winner The Crossover and newcomer...

INSIDE HUDSON PICKLE

A middle schooler struggles to reconcile family secrets, his asthma, and his love of sports and firefighting.

White, sports-obsessed seventh-grader Hudson Pickle is frustrated with his life. After his asthma held him back a grade and he was removed from his hockey team due to a massive growth spurt, Hudson feels anxious. He’s lost touch with his two close friends, and without his team he feels even more socially adrift. Desperate not to let his body define him, he anxiously trains for basketball tryouts and stubbornly researches firefighting as his dream career. When his uncle moves in with Hudson and his mom, Hudson’s world is shaken up: 30-something Vic is an eccentric rocker whose unusual levels of fatigue and erratic behavior make Hudson nervous. Vic’s stay pushes more questions to the surface for Hudson: is Vic a drug addict? How did Hudson’s baby brother die when Hudson was 2? Who was Hudson’s father? Hudson’s mom firmly refuses to share any information, but Hudson is determined to find answers, no matter what. Hudson’s first-person narration doesn’t always feel authentically like an American teenager’s (he lives in western New York), with occasional outdated slang and Canadian vocabulary that doesn’t fit. Heavy-handed similes and an extremely tidy conclusion further drag down the narrative.

Such stronger middle-grade narratives interweaving sports and life’s struggles as Newbery winner The Crossover and newcomer Shamini Flint’s Ten (2017) mean this one can stay on the bench. (Fiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: Sept. 5, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-77138-620-3

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Kids Can

Review Posted Online: June 27, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2017

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With Ivan’s movie out this year from Disney, expect great interest—it will be richly rewarded.

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THE ONE AND ONLY BOB

Tiny, sassy Bob the dog, friend of The One and Only Ivan (2012), returns to tell his tale.

Wisecracking Bob, who is a little bit Chihuahua among other things, now lives with his girl, Julia, and her parents. Happily, her father works at Wildworld Zoological Park and Sanctuary, the zoo where Bob’s two best friends, Ivan the gorilla and Ruby the elephant, live, so Bob gets to visit and catch up with them regularly. Due to an early betrayal, Bob doesn’t trust humans (most humans are good only for their thumbs); he fears he’s going soft living with Julia, and he’s certain he is a Bad Dog—as in “not a good representative of my species.” On a visit to the zoo with a storm threatening, Bob accidentally falls into the gorilla enclosure just as a tornado strikes. So that’s what it’s like to fly. In the storm’s aftermath, Bob proves to everyone (and finally himself) that there is a big heart in that tiny chest…and a brave one too. With this companion, Applegate picks up where her Newbery Medal winner left off, and fans will be overjoyed to ride along in the head of lovable, self-deprecating Bob on his storm-tossed adventure. His wry doggy observations and attitude are pitch perfect (augmented by the canine glossary and Castelao’s picture dictionary of dog postures found in the frontmatter). Gorilla Ivan described Julia as having straight, black hair in the previous title, and Castelao's illustrations in that volume showed her as pale-skinned. (Finished art not available for review.)

With Ivan’s movie out this year from Disney, expect great interest—it will be richly rewarded. (afterword) (Fiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: May 5, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-299131-7

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: March 25, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 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...

NUMBER THE STARS

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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