THE EXILES AT HOME

Ruth, Naomi, Rachel, and Phoebe Conroy are up to their old mischief in this sequel to The Exiles (1992). The young Britishers are back from their Big Grandma's house in Cumbria and are now wrecking havoc at home, specifically because Ruth pledges ten pounds a month to support an African boy's education. Unfortunately, her monthly pocket money doesn't come close to ten pounds and, because she lied about her age on the form she sent in, she can't tell her parents about her ``illegal'' doings. So Ruth recruits Naomi to help her make money. Ruth baby-sits for Peter, the little monster baby next door, at a pound a session, and Naomi becomes a gardener for an extremely aged couple, Toby and Emma. Eventually, the two Little Ones, Rachel and Phoebe, get involved as well, making sandwiches of dubious cleanliness to sell to their classmates. But the four still have trouble scraping together the money. Naomi stops charging the simpatico old folks for her services—she suspects they are too poor to afford her—and Ruth's regular paycheck is threatened when Peter becomes unaccountably well-behaved. The Conroy parents are mystified and annoyed by the girls' troublemaking, but Big Grandma and Emma come to the rescue. All the misunderstandings are cleared up, and the Exiles even get a trip to Africa in the bargain. The Conroy sisters are slightly too eccentric to gain the devotion and sympathy of their readers, but kids will be amused at their bizarre antics. (Fiction. 9-12)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 1994

ISBN: 0-689-50610-4

Page Count: 208

Publisher: McElderry

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 1994

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A perfectly acceptable and predictable trifle. (Science fiction. 9-12)

HOUSE OF ROBOTS

From the House of Robots series , Vol. 1

Sammy is less than thrilled when his genius inventor mother creates a robot brother for him.

Sammy Hayes-Rodriguez's life has always been filled with robots. His mother has invented automatons that clean the floors, mow the lawn, give traffic reports and even plant fantastic gardens. Sammy's school has until now been a robot-free zone, but when Mom invents E (for Egghead, or maybe Einstein Jr.—his parents can’t decide) and insists Sammy take the new robot to school, things get out of hand. Chronicling the ups and downs of an entire school year with a robot brother, the authors put cute sci-fi twists on first-time crushes, school bullies and best-friend troubles. There's nothing here that breaks new ground or illuminates the psyche of young boys in any new or interesting ways, but there are plenty of amusing jokes. Young readers with an interest in science will certainly be engaged. A subplot featuring Sammy's younger sister, a brilliant girl who is homebound by severe combined immunodeficiency disorder, is as by-the-numbers as the rest of the book, but it doesn't tie in to the robot plot until the very end. It's hard to tell if this development is a clumsy climax or an awkward setup for a sequel. Either way, it doesn't work well with everything that came beforehand.

A perfectly acceptable and predictable trifle.  (Science fiction. 9-12)

Pub Date: Nov. 24, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-316-40591-1

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Jan. 7, 2015

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This pitch-perfect contemporary novel gently explores the past’s repercussions on the present

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AS BRAVE AS YOU

Eleven-year-old Brooklynite Genie has “worry issues,” so when he and his older brother, Ernie, are sent to Virginia to spend a month with their estranged grandparents while their parents “try to figure it all out,” he goes into overdrive.

First, he discovers that Grandpop is blind. Next, there’s no Internet, so the questions he keeps track of in his notebook (over 400 so far) will have to go un-Googled. Then, he breaks the model truck that’s one of the only things Grandma still has of his deceased uncle. And he and Ernie will have to do chores, like picking peas and scooping dog poop. What’s behind the “nunya bidness door”? And is that a gun sticking out from Grandpop’s waistband? Reynolds’ middle-grade debut meanders like the best kind of summer vacation but never loses sense of its throughline. The richly voiced third-person narrative, tightly focused through Genie’s point of view, introduces both brothers and readers to this rural African-American community and allows them to relax and explore even as it delves into the many mysteries that so bedevil Genie, ranging from "Grits? What exactly are they?" to, heartbreakingly, “Why am I so stupid?” Reynolds gives his readers uncommonly well-developed, complex characters, especially the completely believable Genie and Grandpop, whose stubborn self-sufficiency belies his vulnerability and whose flawed love both Genie and readers will cherish.

This pitch-perfect contemporary novel gently explores the past’s repercussions on the present . (Fiction. 9-12)

Pub Date: May 3, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-4814-1590-3

Page Count: 432

Publisher: Caitlyn Dlouhy/Atheneum

Review Posted Online: March 30, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2016

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