There’s never a dull moment in the Cornwallis household—nor one not rich with love and laughter. Fans of Binny for Short...

BINNY IN SECRET

From the Binny series , Vol. 2

Newly arrived in a small Cornish town, 12-year-old Binny Cornwallis struggles to find her footing as disasters and mysteries pile up inexorably.

Hardly has she had time to get decisively off on the wrong foot on the first day of school and so become victim of a campaign of petty harassment led by classmate Clare, than a destructive gale forces Binny and her family into a hasty temporary move to an isolated cottage. There, one of her little brother’s chickens is snatched (by a rare lynx or, as young James puts it, a “jagular”), and the brusque new landlady turns out to be…Clare’s mom. With masterful comic timing McKay spins a whirl of horrifying yet hilarious admissions, mishaps, tart exchanges, and domestic tempests, as well as profoundly affecting discoveries and epiphanies, around her intense, sensitive, impulsive protagonist. Usually hilarious, that is—along with a poignant subplot, told in flashbacks, about a trio of siblings who summered in the cottage before and during World War I, the author weaves in mutually harrowing encounters between Binny and a rifle-toting neighbor. (Player’s illustrations not seen.)

There’s never a dull moment in the Cornwallis household—nor one not rich with love and laughter. Fans of Binny for Short (2013) will welcome this second chance to look in on the commotion. (Fiction. 11-13)

Pub Date: June 16, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-4424-8278-4

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: April 1, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2015

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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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A splendid adventure, hilarious and harrowing in turn and so strongly cast that even the precocious pocket primate doesn’t...

THE IMAGINATION BOX

From the Imagination Box series , Vol. 1

Two young sleuths—three if you count the talking marmoset—narrowly avert worldwide disaster after a truly dangerous device and its inventor vanish suddenly.

Ford works twists both funny and terrifying into the notion of wish fulfillment. Being a nosy sort, 10-year-old Tim soon discovers that Professor Eisenstone, a secretive new guest at the hotel his adoptive parents own, has developed a nano-assembler the size of a microwave oven that creates any item that can be visualized strongly enough. It doesn’t take long for the clever white lad to think into existence Phil, a companion “finger monkey” with posh manners and accent, and also an improved Imagination Box of his own. But almost immediately, Eisenstone and the original are snatched by a villainous ex-politician. Tim and Eisenstone’s equally clever granddaughter, Dee, also white, discover this last by following a trail of clues to (wait for it) a secret lab under a former insane asylum…a perfect setting for both weird science and a massively destructive climax. The author cranks up the horror by giving the box the ability to make tangible not just physical items, but fears and nightmares too. Also, by not blinding his characters to the device’s potential, he invites readers to imagine the implications for themselves.

A splendid adventure, hilarious and harrowing in turn and so strongly cast that even the precocious pocket primate doesn’t steal the show . (Science fantasy. 11-13)

Pub Date: Aug. 2, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-101-93627-6

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: April 13, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2016

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