From the Riley Mack series , Vol. 2

This latest installment in the continuing comic adventures of 12-year-old fix-it artist Riley Mack (Riley Mack and the Other Known Trouble Makers, 2012) finds Riley trying to expose environmental polluters.

Megaclever Riley rights wrongs and thwarts evildoers. That’s good, since his town contains an assortment of evildoers, such as Mr. Paxton, the pompous head of the local country club and owner of Xylodyne Dynamics, a company that supplies pancake mix to American forces overseas. Riley’s helped in his endeavors by a trio of confederates. An actress and singer, Briana provides convincing voices that fool bad guys. Nerd extraordinaire Jamal supplies information, and Hubert, alias Mongo, adds the muscle. First, Riley needs to deal with Paxton’s daughter, who is trying to keep Briana out of a talent contest. Then the gang learns that their favorite swimming hole has been polluted by chemical runoff from Paxton’s golf course. Finally it’s revealed that the pancake mix in Afghanistan has been deliberately tainted. The authorities accuse Riley’s soldier dad, but Riley learns that the evidence lies buried in the golf course. Can Riley devise a plot to help Brianna win the talent contest, reveal the truth about the runoff and get his dad off the hook? Grabenstein keeps the comedy flowing and the pages turning. His characters are just goofy enough to entertain but not completely strain credulity—except, of course, for the over-the-top villain.

A lighthearted caper. (Fiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: April 9, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-06-202622-4

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Jan. 28, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2013

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There’s a monster in Sidwell, Massachusetts, that can only be seen at night or, as Twig reveals, if passersby are near her house.

It’s her older brother, James, born with wings just like every male in the Fowler line for the last 200 years. They were cursed by the Witch of Sidwell, left brokenhearted by their forebear Lowell Fowler. Twig and James are tired of the secret and self-imposed isolation. Lonely Twig narrates, bringing the small town and its characters to life, intertwining events present and past, and describing the effects of the spell on her fractured family’s daily life. Longing for some normalcy and companionship, she befriends new-neighbor Julia while James falls in love with Julia’s sister, Agate—only to learn they are descendants of the Witch. James and Agate seem as star-crossed as their ancestors, especially when the townspeople attribute a spate of petty thefts and graffiti protesting the development of the woods to the monster and launch a hunt. The mix of romance and magic is irresistible and the tension, compelling. With the help of friends and through a series of self-realizations and discoveries, Twig grows more self-assured. She is certain she knows how to change the curse. In so doing, Twig not only changes James’ fate, but her own, for the first time feeling the fullness of family, friends and hope for the future.

Enchanting. (Magical realism. 9-12)

Pub Date: March 10, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-385-38958-7

Page Count: 208

Publisher: Wendy Lamb/Random

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2015

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Telgemeier’s bold colors, superior visual storytelling, and unusual subject matter will keep readers emotionally engaged and...


Catrina narrates the story of her mixed-race (Latino/white) family’s move from Southern California to Bahía de la Luna on the Northern California coast.

Dad has a new job, but it’s little sister Maya’s lungs that motivate the move: she has had cystic fibrosis since birth—a degenerative breathing condition. Despite her health, Maya loves adventure, even if her lungs suffer for it and even when Cat must follow to keep her safe. When Carlos, a tall, brown, and handsome teen Ghost Tour guide introduces the sisters to the Bahía ghosts—most of whom were Spanish-speaking Mexicans when alive—they fascinate Maya and she them, but the terrified Cat wants only to get herself and Maya back to safety. When the ghost adventure leads to Maya’s hospitalization, Cat blames both herself and Carlos, which makes seeing him at school difficult. As Cat awakens to the meaning of Halloween and Day of the Dead in this strange new home, she comes to understand the importance of the ghosts both to herself and to Maya. Telgemeier neatly balances enough issues that a lesser artist would split them into separate stories and delivers as much delight textually as visually. The backmatter includes snippets from Telgemeier’s sketchbook and a photo of her in Día makeup.

Telgemeier’s bold colors, superior visual storytelling, and unusual subject matter will keep readers emotionally engaged and unable to put down this compelling tale. (Graphic fiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: Sept. 13, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-545-54061-2

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: July 2, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2016

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