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From the Orchard series , Vol. 1

Enjoy a scoop of ice cream instead.

A slight mystery casts a shadow over New Amity.

Sarah and Lizzie are 11-year-old BFFs in a small New Hampshire town where Lizzie’s family owns an orchard. This summer, to their great delight, they get to run the ice cream stand. If they net $5,000, they will have enough money for their dream: a Halloween zombie hayride. Things start to go awry for Sarah when twins Peter and Olive show up and join the formerly two-person team. Sarah frets constantly that Lizzie will no longer be her friend; sharing is an unwelcome thought. Then a crisis occurs when the ice cream earnings disappear from the safe. Atwood characterizes her cast with descriptive but underdeveloped diversity. Sarah’s grandparents are from Iran, and she has “beige-brown skin.” Lizzie has “pale skin.” The twins have “huge brown eyes, medium-dark-brown skin, and curly hair,” and their two dads are Mr. and Mr. Wu. The whole town is something of a multicultural Platonic ideal. Hakeem observes Ramadan, and Aaron wears an apron that reads “KISS ME, I’M JEWISH.” Sveta and Dani Alvarez are a local power couple. None of the children use cellphones or computers. Readers may very well ponder why a town that holds Sunday morning Community Spirit meetings is so gung-ho to finance a Halloween activity and not a worthy cause. Digitized line drawings introduce each chapter in this first of a series for each season.

Enjoy a scoop of ice cream instead. (Fiction. 8-11)

Pub Date: May 2, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4814-9047-4

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Aladdin

Review Posted Online: March 5, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2017

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

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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Ironically, by choosing such a dramatic catalyst, the author weakens the adventure’s impact overall and leaves readers to...

A group of talking farm animals catches wind of the farm owner’s intention to burn the barn (with them in it) for insurance money and hatches a plan to flee.

Bond begins briskly—within the first 10 pages, barn cat Burdock has overheard Dewey Baxter’s nefarious plan, and by Page 17, all of the farm animals have been introduced and Burdock is sharing the terrifying news. Grady, Dewey’s (ever-so-slightly) more principled brother, refuses to go along, but instead of standing his ground, he simply disappears. This leaves the animals to fend for themselves. They do so by relying on their individual strengths and one another. Their talents and personalities match their species, bringing an element of realism to balance the fantasy elements. However, nothing can truly compensate for the bland horror of the premise. Not the growing sense of family among the animals, the serendipitous intervention of an unknown inhabitant of the barn, nor the convenient discovery of an alternate home. Meanwhile, Bond’s black-and-white drawings, justly compared to those of Garth Williams, amplify the sense of dissonance. Charming vignettes and single- and double-page illustrations create a pastoral world into which the threat of large-scale violence comes as a shock.

Ironically, by choosing such a dramatic catalyst, the author weakens the adventure’s impact overall and leaves readers to ponder the awkward coincidences that propel the plot. (Animal fantasy. 8-10)

Pub Date: July 7, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-544-33217-1

Page Count: 256

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: March 31, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2015

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