A vivid, accessible tale of the staggering price war exacts from those who had no voice in waging it.

STAY WHERE YOU ARE AND THEN LEAVE

Another child’s-eye view of war from the author of The Boy in the Striped Pajamas (2006); here the child is working-class, the conflict, World War I.

The fighting starts July 28, 1914, the day Alfie Summerfield turns 5. Eager to defend king and country, young men—including Alfie’s dad, Georgie—enlist in droves, leaving wives to manage households and families. Everyone says it will be over by Christmas, but four years later, the war grinds on, having transformed Alfie’s stable, working-class neighborhood beyond recognition. Czech-immigrant neighbors have been taken away, their candy shop boarded up. Released from jail, a conscientious objector and old family friend is reviled and beaten when he returns home. Georgie’s letters stop coming. Alfie’s mother, now a nurse, insists he’s on a secret government mission, but Alfie fears he’s dead. Hard times get harder. Skipping school to shine shoes at King’s Cross railway station, Alfie learns Georgie’s hospitalized with shell shock and vows to bring him home. Alfie’s the novel’s strong suit: self-centered, altruistic, schooled by years of war, yet clinging to the belief that he can control the uncontrollable. His authenticity lends credibility to the sometimes–far-fetched, coincidence-heavy plot. (Conversely, a didactic tone creeps in when the viewpoint shifts from Alfie.)

A vivid, accessible tale of the staggering price war exacts from those who had no voice in waging it. (Historical fiction. 9-14)

Pub Date: March 25, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-62779-031-4

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: Dec. 24, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2014

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Some readers may feel that the resolution comes a mite too easily, but most will enjoy the journey and be pleased when...

ASHES TO ASHEVILLE

Two sisters make an unauthorized expedition to their former hometown and in the process bring together the two parts of their divided family.

Dooley packs plenty of emotion into this eventful road trip, which takes place over the course of less than 24 hours. Twelve-year-old Ophelia, nicknamed Fella, and her 16-year-old sister, Zoey Grace, aka Zany, are the daughters of a lesbian couple, Shannon and Lacy, who could not legally marry. The two white girls squabble and share memories as they travel from West Virginia to Asheville, North Carolina, where Zany is determined to scatter Mama Lacy’s ashes in accordance with her wishes. The year is 2004, before the Supreme Court decision on gay marriage, and the girls have been separated by hostile, antediluvian custodial laws. Fella’s present-tense narration paints pictures not just of the difficulties they face on the trip (a snowstorm, car trouble, and an unlikely thief among them), but also of their lives before Mama Lacy’s illness and of the ways that things have changed since then. Breathless and engaging, Fella’s distinctive voice is convincingly childlike. The conversations she has with her sister, as well as her insights about their relationship, likewise ring true. While the girls face serious issues, amusing details and the caring adults in their lives keep the tone relatively light.

Some readers may feel that the resolution comes a mite too easily, but most will enjoy the journey and be pleased when Fella’s family figures out how to come together in a new way . (Historical fiction. 10-14)

Pub Date: April 4, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-399-16504-7

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: Feb. 1, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2017

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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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