THE SILVER PENNY

Jacob, called Deb, is an adventuresome boy who always wants to see what’s beyond his world of farm chores and family. His impulsiveness leads to an accident so severe that he is in danger of losing his ability to walk and possibly his life. His great-grandfather gives him a lucky silver penny that he credits with having saved his life during the Revolutionary War. It is here that Wright moves from a 19th-century coming-of-age story to a tale filled with portents, spirits, ghosts, alternate time and place and almost every supernatural conceit imaginable. Are these fantastic events occurring only in Deb’s fevered dreams, or are they the results of the silver penny’s magical powers? Because it’s often difficult to follow all the abrupt and ever-changing transitions, it takes patience and determination to keep track of it all. It may not be worth the effort. (Fiction. 10-12)

Pub Date: June 1, 2005

ISBN: 0-8050-7391-4

Page Count: 208

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2005

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The bird’s-eye view into this pivotal moment provides a powerful story, one that adults will applaud—but between the...

MIDNIGHT WITHOUT A MOON

The ugly brutality of the Jim Crow South is recounted in dulcet, poetic tones, creating a harsh and fascinating blend.

Fact and fiction pair in the story of Rose Lee Carter, 13, as she copes with life in a racially divided world. It splits wide open when a 14-year-old boy from Chicago named Emmett Till goes missing. Jackson superbly blends the history into her narrative. The suffocating heat, oppression, and despair African-Americans experienced in 1955 Mississippi resonate. And the author effectively creates a protagonist with plenty of suffering all her own. Practically abandoned by her mother, Rose Lee is reviled in her own home for the darkness of her brown skin. The author ably captures the fear and dread of each day and excels when she shows the peril of blacks trying to assert their right to vote in the South, likely a foreign concept to today’s kids. Where the book fails, however, is in its overuse of descriptors and dialect and the near-sociopathic zeal of Rose Lee's grandmother Ma Pearl and her lighter-skinned cousin Queen. Ma Pearl is an emotionally remote tyrant who seems to derive glee from crushing Rose Lee's spirits. And Queen is so glib and self-centered she's almost a cartoon.

The bird’s-eye view into this pivotal moment provides a powerful story, one that adults will applaud—but between the avalanche of old-South homilies and Rose Lee’s relentlessly hopeless struggle, it may be a hard sell for younger readers. (Historical fiction. 10-12)

Pub Date: Jan. 3, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-544-78510-6

Page Count: 320

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: Sept. 19, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2016

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Fans of mythology-based fantasies will devour this adventure and anxiously await the next installment.

THE LAST SHADOW WARRIOR

Abby is your average 12-year-old North Carolinian—and Viking.

She has been eager for years to follow in her mother's footsteps as an Aesir, or Viking warrior charged with protecting the world from Grendels, descendants of the same monster faced down by Beowulf. Still reeling from her mother’s death four years ago, Abby is worried because she hasn’t developed the unusual abilities needed by Aesirs. After she is attacked at home, she and her father head to Vale Hall, an elite Minnesota private school her mother also attended. Along the way they are attacked again, and her father falls into a mysterious coma. Abby is positive a Grendel is after her, but the Viking council at Vale Hall doesn't believe her. She quickly befriends Grimsby and Gwynn, each with their own burdens and secrets. Together they try to find a cure for her father, in the process uncovering secrets from her mother's past and discovering some truths hiding at Vale Hall. This entertaining debut novel seamlessly blends Norse mythology with a modern-day setting to tell an action-packed and humorous story. In addition, the book explores grief, growing up, and starting over with sensitivity and insight. Abby and most other characters are cued as White; Gwynn is described as Asian American.

Fans of mythology-based fantasies will devour this adventure and anxiously await the next installment. (Fantasy. 10-12)

Pub Date: April 6, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-338-63607-9

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Jan. 26, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2021

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