ESCAPE!

THE STORY OF THE GREAT HOUDINI

It seems obvious that Fleischman, Newbery author of numerous novels involving magic, would write a biography about master magician Houdini, but it took decades before he was able to transport his personal connection and admiration into a book. Fleischman separates fiction from fact, discrepancies and contradictions of Houdini’s life as skillfully as sawing a woman in half. What sets this biography apart from and above others is the author’s personal involvement with his subject; it’s a mesmerizing configuration of both lives. When Fleischman found a forgotten box of photos of the magician that Houdini’s wife had personally given him, they ignited his curiosity—could he unveil the illusions of the great man? Cunning chapter titles, spacious format and the black-and-white photos that profile the man’s unique mystique are tied together like a string of silk scarves spilling from a sleeve that fascinate, intrigue and amaze. What do you get when you put two prestidigitators, one a spellbinding escape artist, the other a magician with words, into a black hat and wave the wand? Abracadabra—a feat that’s pure magic. (Biography. 9-14)

Pub Date: July 1, 2006

ISBN: 0-06-085094-9

Page Count: 160

Publisher: Greenwillow Books

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2006

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Poet Alexander deftly reveals the power of the format to pack an emotional punch.

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THE CROSSOVER

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)

Pub Date: March 18, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-544-10771-7

Page Count: 240

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: Dec. 18, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2014

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DRAMA

From award winner Telgemeier (Smile, 2010), a pitch-perfect graphic novel portrayal of a middle school musical, adroitly capturing the drama both on and offstage.

Seventh-grader Callie Marin is over-the-moon to be on stage crew again this year for Eucalyptus Middle School’s production of Moon over Mississippi. Callie's just getting over popular baseball jock and eighth-grader Greg, who crushed her when he left Callie to return to his girlfriend, Bonnie, the stuck-up star of the play. Callie's healing heart is quickly captured by Justin and Jesse Mendocino, the two very cute twins who are working on the play with her. Equally determined to make the best sets possible with a shoestring budget and to get one of the Mendocino boys to notice her, the immensely likable Callie will find this to be an extremely drama-filled experience indeed. The palpably engaging and whip-smart characterization ensures that the charisma and camaraderie run high among those working on the production. When Greg snubs Callie in the halls and misses her reference to Guys and Dolls, one of her friends assuredly tells her, "Don't worry, Cal. We’re the cool kids….He's the dork." With the clear, stylish art, the strongly appealing characters and just the right pinch of drama, this book will undoubtedly make readers stand up and cheer.

Brava!  (Graphic fiction. 10-14)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-545-32698-8

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Graphix/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: July 22, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2012

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