An original tale of family love, scientific passion, and a truly epic journey of self-discovery.

THE CARE AND FEEDING OF A PET BLACK HOLE

Instead of a lost kitten, 11-year-old Stella “Bug” Rodriguez rescues a black hole she names Larry (“short for Singularity, which I’d read is a place of infinite gravity at the heart of a black hole”).

For a lonely, precocious, science-loving girl who idolizes Carl Sagan, nothing could be better—at least, at first. Soon the chaos of the actual black hole forces Stella to confront the metaphorical black hole of sadness left by the death of her father. Her intense grief—equaled only by her fear of confronting it head on—contrasts with the wacky humor of a slightly domesticated black hole that consumes everything, including Stinky Stu, the class hamster, a neighbor’s garden gnomes, and the new family puppy. Stella and her little brother, Cosmo, embark on a surreal journey, printed in white type on a black background, through Larry’s depths in search of the dog, ordering up what they need as if Larry were a cosmic, malfunctioning Siri (“ ‘LAMPS!” we shouted. “NOT STAMPS. LAMPS! SWALLOW LIGHT. LIGHT!” A moment later we saw a kite sail by”). Throughout the book Stella addresses her father directly as “you,” a potent reminder of the fresh intensity of her loss. Set in 1977, this quirky story is enhanced by charming pen-and-ink illustrations. Aside from Stella’s surname, which suggests the family is Latinx, race and ethnicity are unspecified.

An original tale of family love, scientific passion, and a truly epic journey of self-discovery. (Fantasy. 8-12)

Pub Date: Sept. 12, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-399-53913-8

Page Count: 208

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: June 27, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2017

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Readers will be rooting for Bryan to make the right choices even as they understand the wrong ones.

TIGHT

A loner navigates a dangerous relationship.

Bryan is a quiet, Afro–Puerto Rican sixth-grader living in Brooklyn. He enjoys comic books, video games, and keeping to himself. Pa, recently released from prison, and Bryan’s sister, Ava, encourage him to be tough. Ava mocks him for being a “momma’s boy,” and Pa tells him it’s better to be feared than liked. Ma, however, encourages Bryan to use his brains instead of his fists. Ma introduces Bryan to Mike, a slightly older black boy who uses the services at the community center where Ma works; she says he “seems nice” and “gets good grades,” and Bryan needs a friend. Soon Mike and Bryan become so close that they say they’re brothers—but Mike isn’t as good as Ma and others think. Bryan gets swept up in Mike’s influence and begins to behave badly in small ways, throwing rocks at cars from rooftops and practicing his mother’s handwriting so he can forge excuses from school. After Pa violates his parole and is arrested again, Bryan’s behavior escalates, including cutting class and hopping onto moving trains. Through Bryan’s believable, emotionally honest first-person narration, Maldonado skillfully shows a boy trying to navigate parental desires and the societal expectations of his Brooklyn neighborhood while trying to figure himself out.

Readers will be rooting for Bryan to make the right choices even as they understand the wrong ones. (Fiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: Sept. 4, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5247-4055-9

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Nancy Paulsen Books

Review Posted Online: July 16, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2018

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However the compelling fitness of theme and event and the apt but unexpected imagery (the opening sentences compare the...

TUCK EVERLASTING

At a time when death has become an acceptable, even voguish subject in children's fiction, Natalie Babbitt comes through with a stylistic gem about living forever. 

Protected Winnie, the ten-year-old heroine, is not immortal, but when she comes upon young Jesse Tuck drinking from a secret spring in her parents' woods, she finds herself involved with a family who, having innocently drunk the same water some 87 years earlier, haven't aged a moment since. Though the mood is delicate, there is no lack of action, with the Tucks (previously suspected of witchcraft) now pursued for kidnapping Winnie; Mae Tuck, the middle aged mother, striking and killing a stranger who is onto their secret and would sell the water; and Winnie taking Mae's place in prison so that the Tucks can get away before she is hanged from the neck until....? Though Babbitt makes the family a sad one, most of their reasons for discontent are circumstantial and there isn't a great deal of wisdom to be gleaned from their fate or Winnie's decision not to share it. 

However the compelling fitness of theme and event and the apt but unexpected imagery (the opening sentences compare the first week in August when this takes place to "the highest seat of a Ferris wheel when it pauses in its turning") help to justify the extravagant early assertion that had the secret about to be revealed been known at the time of the action, the very earth "would have trembled on its axis like a beetle on a pin." (Fantasy. 9-11)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 1975

ISBN: 0312369816

Page Count: 164

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: April 13, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 1975

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