The resolution is bittersweet but faintly hopeful—a fitting end for an unflinchingly gutsy series whose deftly drawn...

GREGOR AND THE CODE OF CLAW

From the Underland Chronicles series , Vol. 5

At the opening of this, the fifth and final entry in The Underland Chronicles, Gregor discovers why no one has told him what’s in “The Prophecy of Time”: He is to die.

In short order, an airlift of mouse refugees to Regalia, capital of the human territories in the Underland, gives way to a siege by the fascist Bane and his rat hordes, abetted by the giant moles the humans had displaced centuries before when they came to the Underland. As gallons of blood spill, Gregor’s math-whiz sister Lizzie helps a multi-species team break the rats’ Code of Claw, and Gregor himself agonizes over whether the cause for which he fights is a just one. Perhaps Collins’s greatest achievement in these tales is the effortless introduction of weighty geopolitical ethics into rip-roaring adventure. It seems as elusive in the Underland as up above, but Gregor and his companions, including the unforgettable rat Ripred, may yet find a way.

The resolution is bittersweet but faintly hopeful—a fitting end for an unflinchingly gutsy series whose deftly drawn characters have always lived dangerously. (Fiction. 9-12)

Pub Date: May 1, 2007

ISBN: 978-0-439-79143-4

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2007

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NIGHTBIRD

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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  • Newbery Honor Book

BECAUSE OF WINN-DIXIE

A 10-year old girl learns to adjust to a strange town, makes some fascinating friends, and fills the empty space in her heart thanks to a big old stray dog in this lyrical, moving, and enchanting book by a fresh new voice. India Opal’s mama left when she was only three, and her father, “the preacher,” is absorbed in his own loss and in the work of his new ministry at the Open-Arms Baptist Church of Naomi [Florida]. Enter Winn-Dixie, a dog who “looked like a big piece of old brown carpet that had been left out in the rain.” But, this dog had a grin “so big that it made him sneeze.” And, as Opal says, “It’s hard not to immediately fall in love with a dog who has a good sense of humor.” Because of Winn-Dixie, Opal meets Miss Franny Block, an elderly lady whose papa built her a library of her own when she was just a little girl and she’s been the librarian ever since. Then, there’s nearly blind Gloria Dump, who hangs the empty bottle wreckage of her past from the mistake tree in her back yard. And, Otis, oh yes, Otis, whose music charms the gerbils, rabbits, snakes and lizards he’s let out of their cages in the pet store. Brush strokes of magical realism elevate this beyond a simple story of friendship to a well-crafted tale of community and fellowship, of sweetness, sorrow and hope. And, it’s funny, too. A real gem. (Fiction. 9-12)

Pub Date: March 1, 2000

ISBN: 0-7636-0776-2

Page Count: 182

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2000

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