Well done; here’s to the next installment. (Graphic fiction. 9-13)

THE MEANING OF LIFE...AND OTHER STUFF

From the Amelia Rules! series , Vol. 7

A standout graphic-novel series continues on its well-thought-out path.

Precocious preteen Amelia McBride returns in a relatively somber seventh volume, in which she encounters her first adolescent existential crisis. Though she spends her days as Princess Powerful hanging with her superhero friends, G.A.S.P. (the Gathering of Awesome Super Pals), young Amelia is growing up and now straddles the line between angst-ridden adolescence and her fading carefree childhood. For the first time in her young life, she realizes that nothing is permanent, and not everything is fair: Her parents’ marriage has dissolved into divorce; her friend’s father is fighting in Afghanistan, which affects their relationship; her school’s principal treats her unjustly and even her beloved rock-star Aunt Tanner, whom she counted on for support, is now on tour. Though it is a slender volume, Gownley does not shy away from tough topics, presenting them in a way that is both approachable and understandable to kids. Reminiscent of an illustrated Alice McKinley, Amelia is growing up with her readership and taking them along on her often bumpy voyage. With all of the tribulations Amelia must deal with, she paints an accurate portrait of what preteens must deal with and how fast they sometimes have to grow up.

Well done; here’s to the next installment. (Graphic fiction. 9-13) 

Pub Date: Sept. 6, 2011

ISBN: 978-1416986126

Page Count: 160

Publisher: Atheneum

Review Posted Online: July 5, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2011

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Good Guys and Bad get just deserts in the end, and Stanley gets plenty of opportunities to display pluck and valor in this...

HOLES

Sentenced to a brutal juvenile detention camp for a crime he didn't commit, a wimpy teenager turns four generations of bad family luck around in this sunburnt tale of courage, obsession, and buried treasure from Sachar (Wayside School Gets a Little Stranger, 1995, etc.).

Driven mad by the murder of her black beau, a schoolteacher turns on the once-friendly, verdant town of Green Lake, Texas, becomes feared bandit Kissin' Kate Barlow, and dies, laughing, without revealing where she buried her stash. A century of rainless years later, lake and town are memories—but, with the involuntary help of gangs of juvenile offenders, the last descendant of the last residents is still digging. Enter Stanley Yelnats IV, great-grandson of one of Kissin' Kate's victims and the latest to fall to the family curse of being in the wrong place at the wrong time; under the direction of The Warden, a woman with rattlesnake venom polish on her long nails, Stanley and each of his fellow inmates dig a hole a day in the rock-hard lake bed. Weeks of punishing labor later, Stanley digs up a clue, but is canny enough to conceal the information of which hole it came from. Through flashbacks, Sachar weaves a complex net of hidden relationships and well-timed revelations as he puts his slightly larger-than-life characters under a sun so punishing that readers will be reaching for water bottles.

Good Guys and Bad get just deserts in the end, and Stanley gets plenty of opportunities to display pluck and valor in this rugged, engrossing adventure. (Fiction. 9-13)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1998

ISBN: 978-0-374-33265-5

Page Count: 233

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2000

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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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