Misses the mark almost completely.

ROBINSON'S HOOD

The first in a planned series is slight in length as well as in concept.

Robin—short for Robinson—lives with his grandmother “on the toughest street in the toughest hood in the tough city of Ironwood.” Devoted to school and to his grandmother, he spends his days outside school at the Barbara Jordan Community Center and helping out at his gramma's Shrimp Shack. Although readers may relate to the bullying and gang violence Robin encounters, they will most likely not swallow his teacher’s-pet narrative voice (“He'd already done his summer reading, an amazing novel called Bud, Not Buddy...and written a great five-paragraph essay too”). His lack of street smarts is similarly unbelievable: Even readers who aren't skeptical when Robin cheerfully asks the local bully, “You all ready for school?” will surely struggle when, out of just slightly more than idle curiosity, Robin goes to a spot where he sees a gang member hiding something and finds almost exactly enough money to save the Center from closing. An abrupt cliffhanger leaves the story completely unresolved, but with so many flaws, it's hard to imagine there will be much clamoring for the follow-up volume.

Misses the mark almost completely. (Fiction. 10-14)

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-62250-000-0

Page Count: 126

Publisher: Saddleback Educational Publishing

Review Posted Online: Dec. 1, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2012

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This is no didactic near-future warning of present evils, but a cinematic adventure featuring endearing, compelling heroes

LEGEND

From the Legend series , Vol. 1

A gripping thriller in dystopic future Los Angeles.

Fifteen-year-olds June and Day live completely different lives in the glorious Republic. June is rich and brilliant, the only candidate ever to get a perfect score in the Trials, and is destined for a glowing career in the military. She looks forward to the day when she can join up and fight the Republic’s treacherous enemies east of the Dakotas. Day, on the other hand, is an anonymous street rat, a slum child who failed his own Trial. He's also the Republic's most wanted criminal, prone to stealing from the rich and giving to the poor. When tragedies strike both their families, the two brilliant teens are thrown into direct opposition. In alternating first-person narratives, Day and June experience coming-of-age adventures in the midst of spying, theft and daredevil combat. Their voices are distinct and richly drawn, from Day’s self-deprecating affection for others to June's Holmesian attention to detail. All the flavor of a post-apocalyptic setting—plagues, class warfare, maniacal soldiers—escalates to greater complexity while leaving space for further worldbuilding in the sequel.

This is no didactic near-future warning of present evils, but a cinematic adventure featuring endearing, compelling heroes . (Science fiction. 12-14)

Pub Date: Nov. 29, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-399-25675-2

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: April 8, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2011

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BAMBOO PEOPLE

Well-educated American boys from privileged families have abundant options for college and career. For Chiko, their Burmese counterpart, there are no good choices. There is never enough to eat, and his family lives in constant fear of the military regime that has imprisoned Chiko’s physician father. Soon Chiko is commandeered by the army, trained to hunt down members of the Karenni ethnic minority. Tai, another “recruit,” uses his streetwise survival skills to help them both survive. Meanwhile, Tu Reh, a Karenni youth whose village was torched by the Burmese Army, has been chosen for his first military mission in his people’s resistance movement. How the boys meet and what comes of it is the crux of this multi-voiced novel. While Perkins doesn’t sugarcoat her subject—coming of age in a brutal, fascistic society—this is a gentle story with a lot of heart, suitable for younger readers than the subject matter might suggest. It answers the question, “What is it like to be a child soldier?” clearly, but with hope. (author’s note, historical note) (Fiction. 11-14)

Pub Date: July 1, 2010

ISBN: 978-1-58089-328-2

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Charlesbridge

Review Posted Online: May 31, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2010

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