A stinky, creepy tale for anyone who’s ever felt like an outsider. (Fiction. 8-11)

DEAD BOY

Crow can’t sleep and won’t eat. But he’s not dead-tired, he’s dead—and his taste buds rotted off a long time ago. 

Eleven-year-old Crow Darlingson doesn’t remember dying and certainly doesn’t know how or why he was resurrected. What he does remember is what it was like to have friends, a joy amputated from his life by his zealously overprotective single mother. When outgoing new neighbor Melody moves in, Crow breaks all the rules of house arrest and strikes up a sneak-out-at-night friendship with her. His secret and stench of decay don’t bother Melody—they thrill and comfort her. To Melody, Crow is magic, and the existence of magic means there’s a more palatable reason for her mother’s disappearance than just abandonment. When Crow realizes there may be a way back to life, he must reckon with the possible cost. This isn’t your typical zombie tale, so readers hankering for brain buffets should look elsewhere. This is all about that sticky transition from childhood to adolescence and the realization that adults don’t have all the answers. Rotting guts and decaying limbs are pretty icky, but they are really just a vehicle for recognizing how awkward it can be in one’s own skin. Tanaka contributes grayscale chapter-head illustrations for extra, maggoty mood-setting.

A stinky, creepy tale for anyone who’s ever felt like an outsider. (Fiction. 8-11)

Pub Date: Sept. 29, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-553-51008-9

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: June 16, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2015

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A smart, fresh take on an old favorite makes for a terrific series kickoff

THE GREAT SHELBY HOLMES

From the Shelby Holmes series , Vol. 1

A modern Sherlock Holmes retelling brings an 11-year-old black John Watson into the sphere of know-it-all 9-year-old white detective Shelby Holmes.

John's an Army brat who's lived in four states already. Now, with his parents' divorce still fresh, the boy who's lived only on military bases must explore the wilds of Harlem. His new life in 221A Baker St. begins inauspiciously, as before he's even finished moving in, his frizzy-haired neighbor blows something up: "BOOM!" But John's great at making friends, and Shelby certainly seems like an interesting kid to know. Oddly loquacious, brusque, and extremely observant, Shelby's locally famous for solving mysteries. John’s swept up in her detecting when a wealthy, brown-skinned classmate enlists their help in the mysterious disappearance of her beloved show dog, Daisy. Whatever could have happened to the prizewinning Cavalier King Charles spaniel? Has she been swiped by a jealous competitor? Has Daisy’s trainer—mysteriously come into enough money to take a secret weekend in Cozumel—been placing bets against his own dog? Brisk pacing, likable characters, a few silly Holmes jokes ("I'm Petunia Cumberbatch," says Shelby while undercover), and a diverse neighborhood, carefully and realistically described by John, are ingredients for success.

A smart, fresh take on an old favorite makes for a terrific series kickoff . (Mystery. 9-11)

Pub Date: Sept. 6, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-68119-051-8

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Review Posted Online: June 22, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2016

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Warmhearted cross-cultural friendship for a refugee on distant shores: both necessary and kind.

LETTERS FROM CUBA

In 1938, a Jewish refugee from Poland joins her father in small-town Cuba.

After three years abroad, Papa’s saved only enough money to send for one of his children. Thus Esther boards the steamship alone even though she’s not quite 12. Cuba is a constant surprise: Her father’s an itinerant peddler and not a shopkeeper; they live as the only Jews in a tiny village; and she’s allowed to wear sandals and go bare-legged in the heat. But the island is also a constant joy. Nearly everyone Esther meets is generous beyond their means. She adores her new trade as a dressmaker, selling her creations in Havana to earn money to bring over the rest of the family. In glowing letters to her sister back in Poland, Esther details how she’s learning Spanish through the poems of José Martí. She introduces her sister to her beloved new friends: a White doctor’s wife and her vegetarian, atheist husband; a Black, Santería-following granddaughter of an ex-slave; a Chinese Cuban shopkeeper’s nephew. Esther’s first year in Cuba is marked by the calendar of Jewish holidays, as she wonders if she can be both Cuban and a Jew. As the coming war looms in Europe, she and her friends find solidarity, standing together against local Nazis and strike breakers. An author’s note describes how the story was loosely inspired by the author’s own family history.

Warmhearted cross-cultural friendship for a refugee on distant shores: both necessary and kind. (bibliography) (Historical fiction. 8-11)

Pub Date: Aug. 25, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-525-51647-7

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Nancy Paulsen Books

Review Posted Online: June 3, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2020

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