Rebecca Caudill Awards
2017
The Crossover
Book Jacket   Kwame Alexander
Kirkus Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission. Basketball-playing twins find challenges to their relationship on and off the court as they cope with changes in their lives. Josh Bell and his twin, Jordan, aka JB, are stars of their school basketball team. They are also successful students, since their educator mother will stand for nothing else. As the two middle schoolers move to a successful season, readers can see their differences despite the sibling connection. After all, Josh has dreadlocks and is quiet on court, and JB is bald and a trash talker. Their love of the sport comes from their father, who had also excelled in the game, though his championship was achieved overseas. Now, however, he does not have a job and seems to have health problems the parents do not fully divulge to the boys. The twins experience their first major rift when JB is attracted to a new girl in their school, and Josh finds himself without his brother. This novel in verse is rich in character and relationships. Most interesting is the family dynamic that informs so much of the narrative, which always reveals, never tells. While Josh relates the story, readers get a full picture of major and minor players. The basketball action provides energy and rhythm for a moving story. Poet Alexander deftly reveals the power of the format to pack an emotional punch. (Verse fiction. 9-12)]] Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
Horn Book (c) Copyright The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. 9780544107717 Twelve-year-old twins Josh and Jordan (JB) are a well-oiled machine on the basketball court. But then JB gets a girlfriend, and before Josh knows it, things start to change. Josh's narration is a combination of exciting play-by-play game details, insightful observations on middle school, and poignant meditations on sibling dynamics and familial love. This verse novel has massive appeal for reluctant readers. (c) Copyright 2014. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
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2016
Michael Vey: The Prisoner of Cell 25
Book Jacket   Richard Paul Evans
 
2015
Legend
 Marie Lu
Kirkus Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission. A gripping thriller in dystopic future Los Angeles.Fifteen-year-olds June and Day live completely different lives in the glorious Republic. June is rich and brilliant, the only candidate ever to get a perfect score in the Trials, and is destined for a glowing career in the military. She looks forward to the day when she can join up and fight the Republic's treacherous enemies east of the Dakotas. Day, on the other hand, is an anonymous street rat, a slum child who failed his own Trial. He's also the Republic's most wanted criminal, prone to stealing from the rich and giving to the poor. When tragedies strike both their families, the two brilliant teens are thrown into direct opposition. In alternating first-person narratives, Day and June experience coming-of-age adventures in the midst of spying, theft and daredevil combat. Their voices are distinct and richly drawn, from Day's self-deprecating affection for others to June's Holmesian attention to detail. All the flavor of a post-apocalyptic settingplagues, class warfare, maniacal soldiersescalates to greater complexity while leaving space for further worldbuilding in the sequel.This is no didactic near-future warning of present evils, but a cinematic adventure featuring endearing, compelling heroes. (Science fiction. 12-14)]] Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
Horn Book (c) Copyright The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. 9780399256752 In the distant future, the western half of the United States has seceded and is ruled by an oppressive totalitarian regime. Fifteen-year-old Day is one of its most wanted criminals. June, also fifteen and one of the Republic's brightest prodigies, is hunting Day down to kill him. The story is written in alternating first-person present-tense narratives with lightning-fast pacing and nonstop action. (c) Copyright 2012. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
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2014
Wonder
 by R. J. Palacio
Horn Book (c) Copyright The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. 9780375869020 Born with a severe facial deformity, formerly homeschooled Auggie is starting fifth grade. We learn how desperately he wants friends but little of what he might offer in return, as he seems to be defined by his disability. Still, this novel is a heartbreaker, and one that for many readers may provide a new definition of bravery in the face of adversity. (c) Copyright 2012. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Kirkus Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission. (Fiction. 8-14)]] Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
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2013
Smile
Book Jacket   Raina Telgemeier
Horn Book (c) Copyright The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. 9780545132060 From sixth grade to high school, Raina has to deal with her teeth--braces, lost teeth, dental surgery--especially after an accident injures her front teeth (the dental details throughout aren't for the squeamish). She also has to cope with boys, friends, school, and puberty. Told in graphic novel format, Telgemeier's memoir ably depicts one girl's journey through adolescence. (c) Copyright 2010. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. All rights reserved.
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2012
Powerless
Book Jacket   Matthew Cody
Kirkus Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission. Resembling a Golden Age comic without the pictures, this tale pits a group of small-town children with superpowerscall them "preteen titans"against a shadowy menace that robs them of those powers on their 13th birthdays. Coming to town with his family to care for his dying grandma, Daniel quickly spots his neighbor Mollie and her friends performing incredible feats. Soon he's in their confidence, as they demonstrate combinations of super-speed, super-strength, enhanced senses and the ability to turn invisible. All of them can also hear the clock ticking, however. Gifted not with superpowers but a sharp mind and a fondness for Sherlock Holmes stories, Daniel sets out to discover how and why his new friends, like generations of their predecessors, are being robbed of their abilities. Where those abilities come from never enters in, but the obligatory wily supervillain does, leading to a titanic climactic battle. Cody wears his influences on his sleeve, but has some fun with them (one lad's "power" is a super-stench) and crafts a tribute that, unlike M.T. Anderson's Whales On Stilts (2005), is more admiring than silly. (Fantasy. 10-12) Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
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2011
The Hunger Games
 Suzanne Collins
Kirkus Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission. Katniss Everdeen is a survivor. She has to be; she's representing her District, number 12, in the 74th Hunger Games in the Capitol, the heart of Panem, a new land that rose from the ruins of a post-apocalyptic North America. To punish citizens for an early rebellion, the rulers require each district to provide one girl and one boy, 24 in all, to fight like gladiators in a futuristic arena. The event is broadcast like reality TV, and the winner returns with wealth for his or her district. With clear inspiration from Shirley Jackson's "The Lottery" and the Greek tale of Theseus, Collins has created a brilliantly imagined dystopia, where the Capitol is rich and the rest of the country is kept in abject poverty, where the poor battle to the death for the amusement of the rich. Impressive world-building, breathtaking action and clear philosophical concerns make this volume, the beginning of a planned trilogy, as good as The Giver and more exciting. However, poor copyediting in the first printing will distract careful readersa crying shame. (Science fiction. 11 up) Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
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  Book Jacket
2010
All the Lovely Bad Ones
 Mary Downing Hahn
Kirkus Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission. Taking her title from a poem by James Whitcomb Riley, veteran author Hahn spins a deliciously spooky tale about restless spirits haunting the site of a former Vermont poor farm. Travis and his little sister Corey are confirmed "bad ones"—so bad, in fact, that their summer camp won't let them come back, so they find themselves this summer at their grandmother's rural inn. When they learn of its supposedly ghost-filled past, they decide to play a prank or two, but in the process they wake both the mischievous long-dead children and the malevolent woman who supervised the children of the farm. Soon the inn swarms with spiritualists hoping for a genuine sighting, much to the dismay of its skeptical proprietor. This clash of cultures allows Hahn to leaven the chills of the ghost story with generous dollops of humor, resulting in a tale that keeps the creepiness factor within reasonable bounds for the audience. Believable characters, both live and undead, and a classic resolution make this a highly satisfying introduction to the genre. (Fiction. 9-12) Copyright ©Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
Horn Book (c) Copyright The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. 9780618854677 For mischief-makers Travis and Corey, a stay at their grandmother's reputedly haunted inn holds promise. Soon, though, the game isn't funny: "...the ghosts are awake now. Putting them back to sleep will not be easy." Hahn expertly combines the comedy of spectral hijinks and bumbling ghost-busters with a dark backstory of abused children and the malevolent guardian who torments them. (c) Copyright 2010. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. All rights reserved.
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2009
The lightning thief
Book Jacket   Rick Riordan.
2008
Drums, Girls and Dangerous Pie
Book Jacket   Jordan Sonnenblick
 
2007
So B. It
 Sarah Weeks
Kirkus Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission. Resilient Heidi It is the daughter of mentally deficient So B. It, but it's really neighbor Bernadette who raises her. Piling on the difficulties, Bernadette is agoraphobic and though managing to reach out to So B. and Heidi without leaving her house, Dette is unable to do anything like normal living. Heidi is homeschooled by Bernadette and finds her unusual life to be satisfactory except for curiosity about her mother's past, as evidenced by "soof," her favorite of Mama's 23 words that also function as chapter titles. Determined to investigate the past, Heidi follows a few convenient clues to lead her on a cross-country bus journey from Reno, Nevada, to Liberty, New York. Some of the details, such as Heidi's lucky streak, are not terribly credible, but the heart of the search for home and history is one that readers will find compelling. Most of the people Heidi meets on her trip gradually take on fullness and depth, but this was never intended to be literal or realistic. Three stars on the soggy-hanky index. (Fiction. 9-12) Copyright ©Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
Horn Book (c) Copyright The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. 9780066236230 Twelve-year-old Heidi It and her severely mentally disabled mother survive through a combination of good luck and their next-door neighbor's loving attention. An undeveloped roll of old film leads Heidi to embark alone on a risky cross-country quest to answer questions about Mama's past. Narrator Heidi's realistic voice lends authenticity to her unusual circumstances. (c) Copyright 2010. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. All rights reserved.
Kirkus Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission. Resilient Heidi It is the daughter of mentally deficient So B. It, but it's really neighbor Bernadette who raises her. Piling on the difficulties, Bernadette is agoraphobic and though managing to reach out to So B. and Heidi without leaving her house, Dette is unable to do anything like normal living. Heidi is homeschooled by Bernadette and finds her unusual life to be satisfactory except for curiosity about her mother's past, as evidenced by "soof," her favorite of Mama's 23 words that also function as chapter titles. Determined to investigate the past, Heidi follows a few convenient clues to lead her on a cross-country bus journey from Reno, Nevada, to Liberty, New York. Some of the details, such as Heidi's lucky streak, are not terribly credible, but the heart of the search for home and history is one that readers will find compelling. Most of the people Heidi meets on her trip gradually take on fullness and depth, but this was never intended to be literal or realistic. Three stars on the soggy-hanky index. (Fiction. 9-12) Copyright ©Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
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  Book Jacket
2006
Eragon
 Christopher Paolini
Horn Book (c) Copyright 2010. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. 9780375926686 This lengthy first novel borrows heavily from its fantasy predecessors but never hatches an original idea. Fifteen-year-old Eragon joins a war against the Empire and journeys across Alagadsia after finding and bonding with a dragon. The endless journeying becomes tedious, dialogue too often substitutes for action, and the shopworn story line lacks narrative drive. (c) Copyright 2010. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. All rights reserved.
Kirkus Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission. This solid, sweeping epic fantasy crosses vast geography as it follows 15-year-old Eragon from anonymous farm boy to sword-wielding icon on whose shoulders may rest the fate of AlagaŽsia. Dragon Riders have died out over the years, leaving the Empire under the iron fist of King Galbatorix; but hunting in the forest one day, Eragon finds a blue stone that soon hatches into his very own dragon. The next months find him learning magic, sword skills, and bits of his land's history. A slight tone of arrogance running through the narrative voice will hardly bother readers busily enjoying the reliable motifs of elegant immortal elves, mining dwarves, a wise elderly man, and a hero of mysterious birth. Replete with histories, names, and languages, this high fantasy with visible Tolkien influence ends with Eragon's first battle and a tempting pointer towards the second installment, when Eragon will visit the unseen elven city and plunge headlong into his destiny. (map, pronunciation key, glossaries of three created languages) (Fantasy. YA) Copyright ©Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
Kirkus Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission. This solid, sweeping epic fantasy crosses vast geography as it follows 15-year-old Eragon from anonymous farm boy to sword-wielding icon on whose shoulders may rest the fate of AlagaŽsia. Dragon Riders have died out over the years, leaving the Empire under the iron fist of King Galbatorix; but hunting in the forest one day, Eragon finds a blue stone that soon hatches into his very own dragon. The next months find him learning magic, sword skills, and bits of his land's history. A slight tone of arrogance running through the narrative voice will hardly bother readers busily enjoying the reliable motifs of elegant immortal elves, mining dwarves, a wise elderly man, and a hero of mysterious birth. Replete with histories, names, and languages, this high fantasy with visible Tolkien influence ends with Eragon's first battle and a tempting pointer towards the second installment, when Eragon will visit the unseen elven city and plunge headlong into his destiny. (map, pronunciation key, glossaries of three created languages) (Fantasy. YA) Copyright ©Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
Horn Book (c) Copyright The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. 9780375926686 This lengthy first novel borrows heavily from its fantasy predecessors but never hatches an original idea. Fifteen-year-old Eragon joins a war against the Empire and journeys across Alagadsia after finding and bonding with a dragon. The endless journeying becomes tedious, dialogue too often substitutes for action, and the shopworn story line lacks narrative drive. (c) Copyright 2010. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. All rights reserved.
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2005
Hoot
Book Jacket   Carl Hiaasen
Kirkus Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission. 9780375821813 The straight-arrow son of a maybe-federal agent (he's not quite sure) turns eco-terrorist in this first offering for kids from one of detective fiction's funniest novelists. Fans of Hiaasen's (Basket Case, 2001, etc.) novels for adults may wonder how well his profane and frequently kinky writing will adapt to a child's audience; the answer is, remarkably well. Roy Eberhardt has recently arrived in Florida; accustomed to being the new kid after several family moves, he is more of an observer than a participant. When he observes a bare-footed boy running through the subdivisions of Coconut Grove, however, he finds himself compelled to follow and, later, to ally himself with the strange boy called Mullet Fingers. Meanwhile, the dimwitted but appealingly dogged Officer Delinko finds himself compelled to crack the case of the mysterious vandals at the construction site of a new Mother Paula's All-American Pancake House-it couldn't have anything to do with those cute burrowing owls, could it? The plot doesn't overwhelm with surprises; even the densest readers will soon suss out the connections between Mullet Fingers, the owls, and Mother Paula's steadfast denial of the owls' existence. The fun lies in Hiaasen's trademark twisted characters, including Dana Matherson, the class bully who regularly beats up on Roy and whose unwitting help Roy wickedly enlists; Beatrice Leep, Mullet Fingers's fiercely loyal sister and co-conspirator; Curly, Mother Paula's hilariously inept foreman; and Roy's equally straight-arrow parents, who encourage him to do the right thing without exactly telling him how. Roy is rather surprisingly engaging, given his utter and somewhat unnatural wholesomeness; it's his kind of determined innocence that sees through the corruption and compromises of the adult world to understand what must be done to make things right. If the ending is somewhat predictable, it is also entirely satisfying-Hoot is, indeed, a hoot. (Fiction. 10-14)
Horn Book (c) Copyright The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. 9780375921810 This is a G-rated mystery/adventure set in South Florida, peopled with original, wacky characters. New kid Roy hooks up with a teenage runaway and his sister to protect the nesting ground for burrowing owls, threatened by construction. The narrative carries a lot of frenzied commotion that becomes more preposterous with each new character. Not consistently a hoot, but worthy of a holler, Hiaasen's first YA book is a humorous diversion. (c) Copyright 2010. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. All rights reserved.
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2004
Stormbreaker
Book Jacket   Anthony Horowitz
Kirkus Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission. 9780399236204 What if James Bond had started spying as a teenager? This thriller pits 14-year-old Alex Rider against a mad billionaire industrialist. Non-stop action keeps the intrigue boiling as Alex tries to stop the remarkably evil Herod Sayles from murdering Britain?s schoolchildren through biological warfare. Alex begins as an innocent boy shocked by the death of his Uncle Ian in a traffic accident. Suspicious of the official explanation, he investigates and finds Ian?s car riddled with bullet holes. He narrowly escapes being crushed in the car as it?s demolished, then climbs out of a 15-story window to break into Ian?s office. He learns that Ian was a spy, and reluctantly joins Britain?s MI6 intelligence agency. After surviving brutal training and armed with stealthy spy tools, Alex infiltrates Sayles?s operation as the teenage tester of the ?Stormbreaker,? a new computer Sayles is giving to British schools. Thereafter he survives murderous ATV drivers, an underwater swim in an abandoned mine, and an encounter with a Portuguese man-o-war jellyfish before hitching a ride on an already airborne plane. The plot is, of course, preposterous, but young readers won?t care as they zoom through numerous cliffhangers. This is the first book in a series planned by the author, and may prove useful for reluctant readers looking for excitement. (Fiction. 12-14)
Horn Book (c) Copyright The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. 9780399236204 When Uncle Ian is murdered, Alex learns that his guardian was a spy. England's intelligence agency then drafts the fourteen-year-old to complete his uncle's work. Equipped with sophisticated gadgetry, Alex investigates a businessman who is planning a violent act of terrorism. This junior James Bond skydives, dodges bullets, and swims through underwater caves in a book that, despite its preposterous premise, is hard to put down. (c) Copyright 2010. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. All rights reserved.
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2003
Fever 1793
 Laurie Halse Anderson
Kirkus Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission. In an intense, well-researched tale that will resonate particularly with readers in parts of the country where the West Nile virus and other insect-borne diseases are active, Anderson (Speak, 1999, etc.) takes a Philadelphia teenager through one of the most devastating outbreaks of yellow fever in our country's history. It's 1793, and though business has never been better at the coffeehouse run by Matilda's widowed, strong-minded mother in what is then the national capital, vague rumors of disease come home to roost when the serving girl dies without warning one August night. Soon church bells are ringing ceaselessly for the dead as panicked residents, amid unrelenting heat and clouds of insects, huddle in their houses, stream out of town, or desperately submit to the conflicting dictates of doctors. Matilda and her mother both collapse, and in the ensuing confusion, they lose track of each other. Witnessing people behaving well and badly, Matilda first recovers slowly in a makeshift hospital, then joins the coffeehouse's cook, Emma, a free African-American, in tending to the poor and nursing three small, stricken children. When at long last the October frosts signal the epidemic's end, Emma and Matilda reopen the coffeehouse as partners, and Matilda's mother turns up—alive, but a trembling shadow of her former self. Like Paul Fleischman's Path of the Pale Horse (1983), which has the same setting, or Anna Myers's Graveyard Girl (1995), about a similar epidemic nearly a century later, readers will find this a gripping picture of disease's devastating effect on people, and on the social fabric itself. (Fiction. 11-13) Copyright ©Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
Horn Book (c) Copyright The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. 9780689838583 Yellow fever is sweeping through Philadelphia, and for young Mattie, the epidemic begins with the sudden death of a friend. While Anderson smoothly incorporates extensive research into her story, the plot itself is less involving than the situation. However, most will appreciate this book for its portrayal of a fascinating and terrifying time in American history. (c) Copyright 2010. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. All rights reserved.
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2002
Holes
 Louis Sachar
Kirkus Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission. 9780374332655 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. 11-15)
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2001
Harry Potter and the Sorcerers Stone
Book Jacket   J.K. Rowling
Horn Book (c) Copyright The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. 9780545790352 This hefty and handsomely illustrated new edition invites the reader into the wizarding world of Harry Potter from the moment the book is opened to the final pages. Kay's beautiful, slightly off-kilter paintings reinvent the now-familiar characters, giving new readers an all-encompassing reading experience and the already-acquainted a fresh go at the classic. (c) Copyright 2016. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Kirkus Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission. 9780590353403 In a rousing first novel, already an award-winner in England, Harry is just a baby when his magical parents are done in by Voldemort, a wizard so dastardly other wizards are scared to mention his name. So Harry is brought up by his mean Uncle Vernon and Aunt Petunia Dursley, and picked on by his horrid cousin Dudley. He knows nothing about his magical birthright until ten years later, when he learns he's to attend Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Hogwarts is a lot like English boarding school, except that instead of classes in math and grammar, the curriculum features courses in Transfiguration, Herbology, and Defense Against the Dark Arts. Harry becomes the star player of Quidditch, a sort of mid-air ball game. With the help of his new friends Ron and Hermione, Harry solves a mystery involving a sorcerer's stone that ultimately takes him to the evil Voldemort. This hugely enjoyable fantasy is filled with imaginative details, from oddly flavored jelly beans to dragons' eggs hatched on the hearth. It's slanted toward action-oriented readers, who will find that Briticisms meld with all the other wonders of magic school. (Fiction. 10-14)
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2000
Ella Enchanted
Book Jacket   Gail Carson Levine
 
1999
Frindle
 Andrew Clements
Kirkus Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission. 9780689806698 Nicholas is a bright boy who likes to make trouble at school, creatively. When he decides to torment his fifth-grade English teacher, Mrs. Granger (who is just as smart as he is), by getting everyone in the class to replace the word ``pen'' with ``frindle,'' he unleashes a series of events that rapidly spins out of control. If there's any justice in the world, Clements (Temple Cat, 1995, etc.) may have something of a classic on his hands. By turns amusing and adroit, this first novel is also utterly satisfying. The chess like sparring between the gifted Nicholas and his crafty teacher is enthralling, while Mrs. Granger is that rarest of the breed: a teacher the children fear and complain about for the school year, and love and respect forever after. With comically realistic black-and-white illustrations by Selznick (The Robot King, 1995, etc.), this is a captivating tale--one to press upon children, and one they'll be passing among themselves. (Fiction. 8-12)
Horn Book (c) Copyright The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. 9780689806698 Fiction: I Nick's teacher explains that a word means something only because people decide it does. And thus is born [cf2]frindle[cf1], Nick's new name for [cf2]pen[cf1], promising and delivering a classic student-teacher battle. The battle assumes the proportions of a tall tale, and although outrageous and hilarious, it's all plausible, and every bit works from the premise to the conclusion. Horn Rating: Outstanding, noteworthy in style, content, and/or illustration. Reviewed by: esw (c) Copyright 2010. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
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1998
Mick Harte Was Here
 Barbara Park
Horn Book (c) Copyright The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. 9780679870883 Fiction: I For eighth-grader Phoebe, remembering Mick, her younger brother who died in a bike accident, means remembering the funny, crazy, annoying things he used to do, such as asking for fly swatters for Christmas or tap-dancing on the piano at choir practice. Park skillfully interweaves humor and pain in this unique, utterly believable account of Phoebe's attempt to cope with a heartbreaking loss. Horn Rating: Recommended, satisfactory in style, content, and/or illustration. Reviewed by: cmh (c) Copyright 2010. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Kirkus Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission. 9780679870883 It's always difficult reading about the death of a child, especially when he's ``one of the neatest kids you'd ever want to meet.'' That's how Phoebe Harte, 13, describes her slightly younger brother Mick, in a poignant story by a writer more associated with making readers laugh (Maxie, Rosie, and Earl--Partners in Grime, 1990, etc.) than cry. Phoebe tells readers right away that Mick has died from a head injury he suffered in a bike accident, but then interweaves the story of his life with the grief she and her parents endure afterward. What emerges is a portrait of an alternately charming and pesky brother, who is missed tremendously by his family, his friends, and his community. Park relieves the tragedy with side-splitting remembrances, all told in the wry, authentic voice of a young teenage girl. Phoebe decides to address her schoolmates at an assembly about the need for bike helmets, a message the author endorses with a personal note. But although the point comes through clearly, the book itself is not didactic. It is finally just a very moving story about a terrific 12-year-old boy. By the end of the book, readers miss him, too. (Fiction. 8-12)
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1997
The Best School Year Ever
Book Jacket   Barbara Robinson
Horn Book (c) Copyright The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. 9780060230395 Fiction: and intimidation aren't exactly the sort of compliments the teacher has in mind. The understated reporting of Herdman exploits is sure to please."" Age: esw More laugh-out-loud adventures of Beth, Charlie, and the dreaded Herdmans from [cf2]The Best Christmas Pageant Ever[cf1] (Harper). Beth worries over a school assignment -- Horn Rating: Superior, well above average. Reviewed by: Compliments for Classmates"""" -- that links her with Imogene Herdman; stealing (c) Copyright 2010. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Kirkus Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission. 9780060230395 Not just your average naughty children, the Herdmans occasionally step over the line into juvenile delinquency- -but they do it with such panache that the reader cannot help but be impressed. Even Beth Bradley, narrator and sixth-grade classmate of Imogene Herdman, is eventually won over. Beth tells the story of a year in the life of the Herdman clan and describes her own school assignment: to think of compliments for everyone in her class--including Imogene. Beth can think of a lot of names to call Imogene, none of them complimentary. She explains in hilarious detail how the Herdmans are behind every minor catastrophe that occurs in town, from the frogs in the Town Hall watercooler to the ``Amazing Tatooed Baby'' scandal. How can Beth say anything nice about that? Eventually Beth's father comes to the rescue: He calls Imogene ``resourceful'' after she butters a boy's head to unstick it from a bike rack. Beth looks up ``resourceful'' and decides it will do. She also adds ``cunning,'' ``shrewd,'' ``creative,'' and others, realizing that Imogene really is all of these. Beth concludes that if Imogene doesn't go to jail, she could become president. Robinson's readers will look forward to finding out which it will be. The Herdmans will delight readers of this spirited sequel to The Best Christmas Pageant Ever (1972). (Fiction. 8+)
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1996
The Giver
Book Jacket   Lois Lowry
Kirkus Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission. 9780395645666 In a radical departure from her realistic fiction and comic chronicles of Anastasia, Lowry creates a chilling, tightly controlled future society where all controversy, pain, and choice have been expunged, each childhood year has its privileges and responsibilities, and family members are selected for compatibility. As Jonas approaches the ``Ceremony of Twelve,'' he wonders what his adult ``Assignment'' will be. Father, a ``Nurturer,'' cares for ``newchildren''; Mother works in the ``Department of Justice''; but Jonas's admitted talents suggest no particular calling. In the event, he is named ``Receiver,'' to replace an Elder with a unique function: holding the community's memories--painful, troubling, or prone to lead (like love) to disorder; the Elder (``The Giver'') now begins to transfer these memories to Jonas. The process is deeply disturbing; for the first time, Jonas learns about ordinary things like color, the sun, snow, and mountains, as well as love, war, and death: the ceremony known as ``release'' is revealed to be murder. Horrified, Jonas plots escape to ``Elsewhere,'' a step he believes will return the memories to all the people, but his timing is upset by a decision to release a newchild he has come to love. Ill-equipped, Jonas sets out with the baby on a desperate journey whose enigmatic conclusion resonates with allegory: Jonas may be a Christ figure, but the contrasts here with Christian symbols are also intriguing. Wrought with admirable skill--the emptiness and menace underlying this Utopia emerge step by inexorable step: a richly provocative novel. (Fiction. 12+)
Horn Book (c) Copyright The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. 9780395645666 Fiction: O In a departure from her well-known and favorably regarded realistic works, Lowry has written a fascinating, thoughtful science-fiction novel. The story takes place in a nameless, utopian community, at an unidentified future time. Although life seems perfect -- there is no hunger, no disease, no pollution, no fear -- the reader becomes uneasily aware that all is not well. The story is skillfully written; the air of disquiet is delicately insinuated; and the theme of balancing the values of freedom and security is beautifully presented. Horn Rating: Outstanding, noteworthy in style, content, and/or illustration. Reviewed by: aaf (c) Copyright 2010. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Kirkus Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission. 9780395645666 In a radical departure from her realistic fiction and comic chronicles of Anastasia, Lowry creates a chilling, tightly controlled future society where all controversy, pain, and choice have been expunged, each childhood year has its privileges and responsibilities, and family members are selected for compatibility. As Jonas approaches the ``Ceremony of Twelve,'' he wonders what his adult ``Assignment'' will be. Father, a ``Nurturer,'' cares for ``newchildren''; Mother works in the ``Department of Justice''; but Jonas's admitted talents suggest no particular calling. In the event, he is named ``Receiver,'' to replace an Elder with a unique function: holding the community's memories--painful, troubling, or prone to lead (like love) to disorder; the Elder (``The Giver'') now begins to transfer these memories to Jonas. The process is deeply disturbing; for the first time, Jonas learns about ordinary things like color, the sun, snow, and mountains, as well as love, war, and death: the ceremony known as ``release'' is revealed to be murder. Horrified, Jonas plots escape to ``Elsewhere,'' a step he believes will return the memories to all the people, but his timing is upset by a decision to release a newchild he has come to love. Ill-equipped, Jonas sets out with the baby on a desperate journey whose enigmatic conclusion resonates with allegory: Jonas may be a Christ figure, but the contrasts here with Christian symbols are also intriguing. Wrought with admirable skill--the emptiness and menace underlying this Utopia emerge step by inexorable step: a richly provocative novel. (Fiction. 12+)
Horn Book (c) Copyright The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. 9780395645666 Fiction: O In a departure from her well-known and favorably regarded realistic works, Lowry has written a fascinating, thoughtful science-fiction novel. The story takes place in a nameless, utopian community, at an unidentified future time. Although life seems perfect -- there is no hunger, no disease, no pollution, no fear -- the reader becomes uneasily aware that all is not well. The story is skillfully written; the air of disquiet is delicately insinuated; and the theme of balancing the values of freedom and security is beautifully presented. Horn Rating: Outstanding, noteworthy in style, content, and/or illustration. Reviewed by: aaf (c) Copyright 2010. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
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1995
Flight #116 is Down
 Caroline Cooney
Kirkus Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission. 9780590444651 When a 747 crashes into the deep woods on Heidi's family's estate, she at first believes herself incapable of helping the survivors; she's convinced that her every action is a disappointment to her wealthy, ever-busy parents, who happen to be out of town. But as the night unfolds and she becomes involved in a massive rescue effort and the minute details of human survival, Heidi locates a well of unexpected inner strength and shares no small part in the saving of lives. Moment-by-moment action makes this dependable author's taut suspense story feel like a chronicle of an actual disaster. The victims and survivors are a varied lot--independent of one another yet sharing similar events from their many points of view. Cooney skates deftly among their perspectives, never exploiting the horror of the event but demonstrating a genuine flair for balancing the optimism of any rescue with the cruel truths and terrible despair inherent to the work. For Cooney fans and thrill-seekers. (Fiction. 11+)
Horn Book (c) Copyright The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. 9780590444651 Fiction: O A plane crashes near New York City, and the lives of passengers, those who wait for them, and their rescuers intersect. Using brief, timed segments, the action is riveting, and the characters are believable. The subplot of a teenager trying to find her place in the world is nicely handled. Anything but boring. Horn Rating: Recommended, satisfactory in style, content, and/or illustration. Reviewed by: mjg (c) Copyright 2010. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
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1994
Shiloh
 Phyllis Naylor Reynolds
Horn Book (c) Copyright The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. 9780689316142 Fiction: I A young boy saves a mistreated dog by facing down a bullying adult and standing on principles he knows are right - in the face of laws that may be wrong. Narrated in a believable rural southern voice, the reminiscence engages the reader's sympathy. Credible plot and characters, a well-drawn setting, and nicely paced narration. Horn Rating: Superior, well above average. Reviewed by: esw (c) Copyright 2010. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Kirkus Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission. 9780689316142 A gripping account of a mountain boy's love for a dog he's hiding from its owner. Marty, 11, tells how Shiloh, the runaway, first caught his heart; still, his bone-poor West Virginia family has a strong sense of honor, and the dog is returned to its owner. After it runs back to Marty, he hides it in the woods. As Marty's structure of lies to his parents compounds, the villainous owner circles closer. By the time Judd finds Shiloh, the whole family is compromised and the dog has been injured. Marty does get the dog, partly by another lie of omission: he blackmails Judd when he finds him poaching and makes a deal to work for Judd to pay for the dog, but tells his parents another version. Fine lines are explored here: How necessary is it to adhere to the strict truth? ``What kind of law is it...that lets a man mistreat his dog?'' Has the dog been ``saved'' if this leads to its injury? Marty concludes that ``nothing is as simple as you guess--not right or wrong, not Judd Travers, not even me or this dog.'' Meanwhile, young readers will rejoice that Shiloh and Marty end up together. (Fiction. 8-12)
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1993
Maniac Magee
Book Jacket   Jerry Spinelli
Horn Book (c) Copyright The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. 9780316807227 Fiction: and takes the town by storm in a cross between a tall tale and a twentieth-century morality play told with exaggeration Age: humor Young Jeffrey Horn Rating: Superior, well above average. Reviewed by: Maniac"""" Magee appears in Two Mills (c) Copyright 2010. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Kirkus Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission. An occasionally long-winded, but always affecting, parable-like story about racism and ignorance. Jeffrey Magee is twice homeless--once involuntarily, at age three, when his parents plunge with a high-speed trolley off a bridge; the second time eight years later, when he voluntarily leaves the troubled home of his aunt and uncle. Jeffrey's subsequent yearlong flight generates a host of legends:, his sudden appearances and astonishing athletic prowess earn him the name ""Maniac,"" and his just-as-sudden disappearances ensure his fame. Innocently, he crosses between two strictly segregated parts of town, the white East End and the black West End, making friends and enemies in both camps and managing to soften the lines of segregation; later, he finds a new home in the West. If this is sometimes a bit like a chalkboard lesson, it may be because racism is still a volatile subject that is more comfortably dealt with in parable form. The metaphorical style is a brave change from the realism of Spinelli's other books, while fans of his earlier, tongue-in-cheek, streetwise tone will find it also an integral part of this story--ballast for the mythic, shifting picture of Maniac's year on the run. Copyright ©Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
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1992
Number the Stars
Book Jacket   Lois Lowry
Kirkus Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission. The author of the Anastasia books as well as more serious fiction (Rabbi 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 Matas' book (below), Annemarie Johansen has, at ten, known three years of Nazi occupation. Though ever cautious and fearful of the ubiquitous soldiers, she is largely unware 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. Copyright ©Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
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1991
Matilda
 Roald Dahl
Kirkus Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission. After some autobiographical excursions, Dahl here returns to the sort of whimsically grotesque fantasy that makes grown-ups wince and children beg for more. His heroine is five-year-old Matilda, a genius whose mathematical abilities, as well as her impressive reading list (Hemingway, Steinbeck, etc.), are totally unappreciated by her father--a dishonest used-car salesman--and her mother, a devotee of bingo and TV soaps. Only when the girl enters school does she find an understanding ally, Miss Honey, a paragon of virtue who attempts to defend her pupils against unbelievably cruel headmistress Miss Trunchbull, who hates children in direct proportion to their youth and tortures them accordingly. Just when things seem to be at their worst, Matilda discovers still another gift, telekinesis, enabling her to defeat the horrible Trunchbull and give Miss Honey, and herself, a new start. Dahl's tightly woven plots, his strict sense of absolute justice, and his raunchy ""funny bits"" make him popular with children who also appreciate the empowerment he grants to his smaller, weaker protagonists. Matilda is the most simplistic of his efforts in this direction, but it does retain the time-honored appeal, abetted by Blake's apt illustrations. It probably should be marked ""For Children Only,"" though. And Dahl slips badly when he says that C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien have no ""funny bits"" in their books. Copyright ©Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
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1990
Wait Till Helen Comes Home
 Mary Downing Hahn
Kirkus Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission. An unusually scary, well-crafted ghost fantasy. Twelve-year-old Molly, 10-year-old brother Michael, and their artist mother, Jean, move into an isolated renovated country-church with Jean's new husband, Dave, and his disturbed seven-year-old daughter, Heather, whose mother died four years earlier in a fire that almost claimed Heather, too. There is a graveyard on the property; in a twinkling, Heather is possessed by the ghost of Helen, a child who, with her mother and stepfather, died in a fire in 1880. Molly decides to save Heather: Helen is trying to lure her into the pond where two other children have drowned. Then Molly discovers Heather's secret--she accidentally set the fire that killed her mother--and gets her to tell Dave. Heather's health is thereby restored, and the stepfamily is healed, but not before the malevolent Helen does some damage. Helen's ghost finds peace only when her mother materializes and forgives her; Helen, too, had set a fatal fire. Exciting for children comfortable with the genre, but the ghost activity is serious and chilling, involving a sensitive, intelligent heroine who believes in ghosts and wonders about death and what happens after it. Copyright ©Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
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1989
The Dollhouse Murders
Book Jacket   Betty Ren Wright
1988
Indian in the Cupboard
Book Jacket   Lynne Banks
 

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