THE AMAZING LIFE OF BIRDS

THE TWENTY-DAY PUBERTY JOURNAL OF DUANE HOMER LEECH

Twelve-year-old Duane Homer Leech feels he’s in the clutches of something insidious, a cruel joke that’s ruining his life. Everyone calls it “puberty,” but what exactly is puberty? He can’t walk without tripping; he’s a human zit factory; when females are near, he can’t form words, much less coherent sentences. He sees ELBOWS everywhere (that’s his code word for those other parts of anatomy, which you can probably guess). At school, he causes a ringworm scare by cutting off his cowlick, leaving a circular bald spot. He destroys the library by falling against a shelf reaching for a book on puberty. Duane commiserates over the phone with his friend Willy and feels a kinship with the awkward, ugly baby bird that lives on his windowsill. Between Willy and the bird, Duane realizes that life after puberty won’t be nearly as hellish. Paulsen has created a humorous Are you There God? It’s Me, Margaret for boys. Every male on either side of puberty will see themselves in Duane. At times laugh-out-loud funny, here is an only slightly exaggerated manual for every boy encountering his first life change. (Fiction. 10-14)

Pub Date: June 13, 2006

ISBN: 0-385-74660-1

Page Count: 96

Publisher: Wendy Lamb/Random

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2006

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A bit of envelope-pushing freshens up the formula.

HOCUS POCUS AND THE ALL-NEW SEQUEL

In honor of its 25th anniversary, a Disney Halloween horror/comedy film gets a sequel to go with its original novelization.

Three Salem witches hanged in 1693 for stealing a child’s life force are revived in 1993 when 16-year-old new kid Max completes a spell by lighting a magical candle (which has to be kindled by a virgin to work). Max and dazzling, popular classmate Allison have to keep said witches at bay until dawn to save all of the local children from a similar fate. Fast-forward to 2018: Poppy, daughter of Max and Allison, inadvertently works a spell that sends her parents and an aunt to hell in exchange for the gleeful witches. With help from her best friend, Travis, and classmate Isabella, on whom she has a major crush, Poppy has only hours to keep the weird sisters from working more evil. The witches, each daffier than the last, supply most of the comedy as well as plenty of menace but end up back in the infernal regions. There’s also a talking cat, a talking dog, a gaggle of costumed heroines, and an oblique reference to a certain beloved Halloween movie. Traditional Disney wholesomeness is spiced, not soured, by occasional innuendo and a big twist in the sequel. Poppy and her family are white, while Travis and Isabella are both African-American.

A bit of envelope-pushing freshens up the formula. (Fantasy. 10-15)

Pub Date: July 10, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-368-02003-9

Page Count: 528

Publisher: Freeform/Disney

Review Posted Online: June 17, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2018

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THE TEQUILA WORM

Sofia, growing up in an urban Latino neighborhood in McAllen, Texas, has a chance to attend an expensive boarding school in Austin on scholarship. Like her father, Sofia lives the life of the mind, rich with story and possibility. How can she convince her mother to let her take this opportunity? By learning to dance and showing her that she can leave home and still learn to become a good comadre. Canales, the author of the story collection Orange Candy Slices and Other Secret Tales (2001), is a graduate of Harvard Law School, suggesting that Sofia’s story at least closely parallels her own. She is an accomplished storyteller, though not yet, perhaps, a successful novelist. The episodic narrative has disconcerting leaps in time at the beginning, and a sense of completion, or a moral displayed, at several points throughout—all lacking the tension to carry the reader forward. This said, the characters and setting are so real to life that readers who connect with Sofia at the start will find many riches here, from a perspective that is still hard to find in youth literature. (Fiction. 10-14)

Pub Date: Aug. 9, 2005

ISBN: 0-385-74674-1

Page Count: 176

Publisher: Wendy Lamb/Random

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2005

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