While the whistle at the paper mill in “Nabor-with-an-A” hasn’t blown in a decade and most of the town’s residents have moved to “Neighbor-with-an-E,” 14-year-old autistic Livvie Owen is certain she keeps hearing it, even if no one believes her. In this quiet, plodding debut, her secret ventures back to the mill always lead her to the Sun House, her favorite home from before her parents worried about constant evictions, her younger sister wasn’t always fighting with her, she didn’t always feel like she’d ruined the family and Orange Cat was alive and well. When her parents are forced to move again, flashback dreams, a strong, loving family and members of her special-needs class help the teen remember why she can’t return to the Sun House, reconcile to her past, start to accept herself and ease into yet another new home. Although Livvie’s voice wavers at times, from a difficulty in labeling emotions to recognizing an evil twinkle in her sister’s eye, she provides readers with a snapshot of autism and its overlooked gifts; still, this book is not as strong as other recent titles featuring autistic teens. (Fiction. 11-14)



Pub Date: Aug. 17, 2010

ISBN: 978-0-312-61253-5

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Feiwel & Friends

Review Posted Online: July 1, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2010

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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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In an unnamed country (a thinly veiled Philippines), three teenage boys pick trash for a meager living. A bag of cash in the trash might be—well, not their ticket out of poverty but at least a minor windfall. With 1,100 pesos, maybe they can eat chicken occasionally, instead of just rice. Gardo and Raphael are determined not to give any of it to the police who've been sniffing around, so they enlist their friend Rat. In alternating and tightly paced points of view, supplemented by occasional other voices, the boys relate the intrigue in which they're quickly enmeshed. A murdered houseboy, an orphaned girl, a treasure map, a secret code, corrupt politicians and 10,000,000 missing dollars: It all adds up to a cracker of a thriller. Sadly, the setting relies on Third World poverty tourism for its flavor, as if this otherwise enjoyable caper were being told by Olivia, the story's British charity worker who muses with vacuous sentimentality on the children that "break your heart" and "change your life." Nevertheless, a zippy and classic briefcase-full-of-money thrill ride. (Thriller. 12-14)

Pub Date: Oct. 12, 2010

ISBN: 978-0-385-75214-5

Page Count: 240

Publisher: David Fickling/Random

Review Posted Online: Aug. 31, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2010

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