Lush, imaginative, and emotionally insightful.

Six months after Dad’s fatal heart attack, his grieving family moves to his hometown.

Lonely Savi is just shy of 14. Her older sister escapes into social media. Mom is withdrawn, cleaning obsessively. Leaving polluted Delhi, the Kumars settle in Shajarpur, renowned for its perfect climate and clean air, along with Dad’s 42 houseplants, withering without his care. Savi is determined to save them, and soon something strange happens: Whenever she touches a plant, she has visions, glimpses into her father’s youth, Shajarpur’s history, and threats to its future. At her new school, Savi meets Tree, an enormous Ficus mysorensis, or fig tree, who communicates especially powerfully with her. She joins the school ecology club but is also approached by the uber-wealthy Very Cool and Hip People, who make her feel insecure. Hiding her new powers, Savi is torn between the two groups until the shocking announcement that Tree, who seems to be dying, will be cut down. Tree’s decline also mirrors a negative shift in Shajarpur’s weather. The growing urgency forces Savi outside her comfort zone as the story builds to a climax that exposes a shadowy group of conspirators. Narrated in Savi’s fresh, humorous voice, this dreamy, atmospheric story skillfully explores the dynamics of grief. The nuanced conclusion reinforces central themes of interconnection between people and environment and the joyful, healing properties of nature. The often playful tone helps soften the serious subject matter, and Eipe’s spot art whimsically references the environmental content.

Lush, imaginative, and emotionally insightful. (Eco-fantasy. 10-16)

Pub Date: Aug. 22, 2023

ISBN: 9798212181747

Page Count: 205

Publisher: Blackstone

Review Posted Online: July 13, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2023


From the School for Good and Evil series , Vol. 1

Rich and strange (and kitted out with an eye-catching cover), but stronger in the set pieces than the internal logic.

Chainani works an elaborate sea change akin to Gregory Maguire’s Wicked (1995), though he leaves the waters muddied.

Every four years, two children, one regarded as particularly nice and the other particularly nasty, are snatched from the village of Gavaldon by the shadowy School Master to attend the divided titular school. Those who survive to graduate become major or minor characters in fairy tales. When it happens to sweet, Disney princess–like Sophie and  her friend Agatha, plain of features, sour of disposition and low of self-esteem, they are both horrified to discover that they’ve been dropped not where they expect but at Evil and at Good respectively. Gradually—too gradually, as the author strings out hundreds of pages of Hogwarts-style pranks, classroom mishaps and competitions both academic and romantic—it becomes clear that the placement wasn’t a mistake at all. Growing into their true natures amid revelations and marked physical changes, the two spark escalating rivalry between the wings of the school. This leads up to a vicious climactic fight that sees Good and Evil repeatedly switching sides. At this point, readers are likely to feel suddenly left behind, as, thanks to summary deus ex machina resolutions, everything turns out swell(ish).

Rich and strange (and kitted out with an eye-catching cover), but stronger in the set pieces than the internal logic. (Fantasy. 11-13)

Pub Date: May 14, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-06-210489-2

Page Count: 496

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Feb. 12, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2013


Time-travel hijinks and ’90s rap references abound in a fun and funny series starter.

In this entertaining novel centering Black tweens by noted musician and filmmaker Questlove and bestselling author Cosby, the gift of a supersmart phone is a godsend…until it’s very much not.

Philadelphia seventh grader Rahim Reynolds wants to be a rapper like Four the Hard Way, his favorite ’90s group, but if he’s not getting bullied at school, his history professor father’s strict anti-tech, all-books policies make things hard at home. Bestie and home-schooled neighbor Kasia Collins, in contrast, lives in a tech-filled wonderland and is the genius behind most of her home’s innovations. A space-time traveling phone that uses secret government satellites is just the latest invention she tests on her occasional guinea pig, Rahim. When he accidentally dials himself into 1997, Kasia never doubts her ability to get him back, but time is very literally working against them as Rahim disregards her warnings and interferes with almost everything. He quickly befriends his preteen father, sneaks into a Four the Hard Way concert, changes familial and global history, and causes a wormhole that wreaks havoc. Kasia, meanwhile, must deal with government agents and two sets of worried parents while figuring out how to get Rahim home. A semisuccessful return to the present quickly reminds Rahim of how good he had it before. The conclusion of this charming collaboration sets the stage for larger stakes in future adventures. Art not seen.

Time-travel hijinks and ’90s rap references abound in a fun and funny series starter. (Science fiction. 10-13)

Pub Date: April 18, 2023

ISBN: 9780593354063

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: Jan. 11, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2023

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