December 1, 2016 Booklist 57 www.booklistonline.com
start, once the action begins, it’s nonstop.
Though the time period is vague, the cartoonish black-and-white spot illustrations
show mice in suits and vintage cars. Note:
the old-fashioned tone extends to the gender
roles, which are traditionally defined. Fans of
classic mouse adventures will find much to
love in this new series. —Amy Seto Forrester
By Dan Smith.
Feb. 2017. 288p. Scholastic/Chicken House, $16.99
(9781338065640); e-book, $16.99 (9781338065657).
Ash wakes up in a lab on a tropical island
with no idea of how he got there. With the
help of Isabel, he learns their scientist parents were forced by an egomaniac, Pierce, to
develop a deadly airborne virus. Pierce then
exposed their parents and boarded a plane
with both the virus and the cure, and now
he’s headed toward civilization. With just 24
hours to administer the cure, Ash and Isabel
set out in pursuit of Pierce and encounter
many obstacles, including a superstrong assassin, booby traps, and very unusual animal
species. Ash also discovers that he feels stronger, can see better, and can heal faster than
ever before. Are there some secrets to his past
his parents kept from him? Smith’s novel
opens with a bang and keeps up the breathless
pace until the very end. Readers looking for
an action-packed adventure with some mad
science thrown in will enjoy Ash’s story. The
book wraps up nicely but leaves the possibility for a sequel, which many readers will be
eagerly awaiting. —Lindsey Tomsu
By Brandon Mull.
Mar. 2017. 384p. Shadow Mountain, $18.99
(9781629722566). Gr. 4–7.
Fans of Mull’s popular Fablehaven books
will be delighted with this rousing opener
to a new sequel series, which builds upon
familiar characters and plot points from the
original fantasy series. When demons attacked Fablehaven in the Battle of Zzyzx,
dragons from Wyrmroost came as allies on
the condition that they would then control
their own sanctuary, but now dragon king
Celebrant is attacking Blackwell Keep, and
the only thing that can stop the dragons this
time is for young siblings Kendra and Seth
to find one of the seven magical scepters and
put a mighty spell in place. Can they do it before Celebrant finds a way to transform into
a wizard and defeat them? Though the story
is occasionally overtold, the excitement of
the adventure will sweep up existing fans and
undoubtedly create new ones. Try this with
Chris d’Lacey’s new Erth Dragons series, beginning with The Wearle (2016), or give to
fans of Cressida Cowell’s How to Train Your
Dragon books. —Cindy Welch
HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: Fablehaven
was a best-selling series, and the publisher
has major marketing plans for Mull’s newest,
including an author tour.
The Ethan I Was Before.
By Ali Standish.
Jan. 2017. 368p. Harper, $16.99 (9780062433381).
In this moving debut, a boy tries to recover from profound loss. Ethan Truitt and his
family uproot their lives in Boston, after a
tragic accident involving Ethan’s best friend,
Kacey, and move to Palm Knot, Georgia, to
live with estranged Grandpa Ike. Ethan is
ambiguous about the traumatic details, but
it is clear that he suffers intense guilt. There
Ethan is befriended by Coralee Jessup, an
outgoing powerhouse of a girl who reminds
him of Kacey. While Ethan struggles with uncomfortable home dynamics, he and Coralee
find themselves in the middle of a mystery
involving an abandoned house and a box of
stolen jewelry. Secrets—and the damaging
keeping of them—is pivotal to the story. As
a hurricane bears down on the town, Ethan
finds himself at the center of several painful
revelations. Ethan’s heartbreak is so evocatively conveyed that it overshadows the equally
sorrowful elements of Coralee’s own story. Yet
despite the traumas, this is an uplifting book
that explores the way grief evolves through the
power of remembrance. —Kara Dean
The Goldfish Boy.
By Lisa Thompson.
Feb. 2017. 320p. Scholastic, $16.99 (9781338053920).
Thompson’s debut is a multilayered mystery
at once suspenseful and heartrending. Matthew Corbin’s OCD has progressed to the
point where he won’t go beyond his bedroom
and the office across the hall. When he isn’t
washing his hands and cleaning his surroundings, Matthew watches his neighbors in their
cul-de-sac. He writes down his observations
with meticulous care, and when his neighbor’s
grandson, 15-month-old Teddy, suddenly
goes missing, he realizes that he could have
vital information. Reluctantly, he joins forces
with neighbor and classmate Melody to solve
the mystery. Simultaneously, Matthew comes
to terms with the root of his condition and
learns that everyone has secrets and stories.
Matthew narrates the story with a voice that is
initially stilted and formal but which fills out
as he lets go of his fears and develops compassion for his parents and neighbors. By locking
into Matthew’s perspective, Thompson amps
up the suspense, since the reader can only
learn things as Matthew does, but the payoff
is well worth the wait. —Donna Scanlon
The Harlem Charade.
By Natasha Tarpley.
Jan. 2017. 320p. Scholastic, $16.99 (9780545783873);
e-book, $16.99 (9780545783897). Gr. 4–7.
The many worlds of Harlem come together
in this exciting, mysterious story of art and
adventure. Korean American Jin spends her
time staring out the window of the bodega
belonging to her halmoni (grandmother)
and haraboji (grandfather). Alexandra is de-
termined to use her family’s wealth to help
improve the lives of everyone in her neigh-
borhood. And Elvin, new to New York City,
finds himself barely scraping by on the streets,
utterly alone and locked out of his apartment
after his grandfather is mysteriously attacked.
When these three friends come together to
solve the mystery of Elvin’s grandfather, they
instead find themselves thrust into the story
of an enigmatic artist whose recently un-
earthed painting may be the key to saving
their entire community. The novel’s inner-
city setting is masterful, and readers will
quickly connect the glory and the struggles
of the Harlem Renaissance to the Harlem of
the present. With a diverse cast of characters,
Tarpley’s story is a warm and endearing por-
trayal of the ways a community brings people
together, and the power of art to endure and
inspire. —Rebecca Kuss
The House of Months and Years.
By Emma Trevayne.
Feb. 2017. 288p. Simon & Schuster, $16.99
(9781481462556). Gr. 4–7.
The mystery house gets a makeover in Trevayne’s finespun account of a girl finding her
feet after being uprooted from her happy life.
The unexpected deaths of 10-year-old Amelia’s
aunt and uncle result in an unwanted move to
her orphaned cousins’ bizarre old house—one
with a freezing basement, sweltering bedrooms, and a door that opens onto a brick
wall. Angry at having to leave her home and
friends behind, and at having to share her
parents with three other kids, Amelia retreats
into books and the seclusion of her bedroom.
One day a lurking shadow reveals itself to be
a man named Horatio, who explains that they
are living in a Calendar House, which has
the power to transport her anywhere in time.
Amelia’s spirits are lifted by her time-traveling
adventures with Horatio, but eventually it
becomes clear that such excursions come at a
terrible cost. What could have been a breezy
fantasy gains heft from Amelia’s personal
struggles. Her dilemmas will resonate with
readers, while the house’s Narnialike appeal
will capture their imaginations. —Julia Smith
The Icarus Show.
By Sally Christie.
Jan. 2017. 224p. David Fickling, $17.99
(9781338081619); e-book, $17.99 (9781338095005).
Alex Meadows is surviving his first term
at Lambourn Secondary School by making
himself invisible. Invisibility is achieved by
not reacting to things—a trick he learned
Continued on p. 60
ONLINE ALERT! Wondering whether
Jeff Kinney’s latest Wimpy Kid book,
Double Down, will still tickle middle-
graders’ funny bones? You’ll find
Julia Smith’s review on Booklist Online,
where it was our Review of the Day on