Books by David Gifaldi

Released: May 1, 2008

Jake has difficulty reading and writing and faces teasing at school. His father moves from one low-paying job to another, and his parents argue often and loudly. At night he whispers stories of dragons and magic to his little sister Cassie in order to drown out the sounds of their anger. His dreams send him flying on strong batwings, searching for the sounds of a cricket choir that will bring good luck. He and Cassie even build a secret Dragon's Nest in the hedge as a bolthole to which they can escape when things get scary. But there is more to his life than his problems: He has a loyal friend, caring teachers and a kind neighbor. Gifaldi strikes just the right chord, never preaching, judging or allowing the plot to become maudlin or contrived. Jake is a warm, real character who engages the reader's compassion. The conclusion is realistic as well, providing no fairy-tale ending but leaving both Jake and readers with some resolution and hope for the future. Genuine and touching. (Fiction. 9-13)Read full book review >
BEN, KING OF THE RIVER by David Gifaldi
Released: April 1, 2001

Continuing this publisher's efforts to offer well-written stories about special problems, Chad, who appears to be about nine, describes a family camping trip that includes his five-year-old brother Ben, who is developmentally disabled. Gifaldi (Rearranging, 1998, etc.) doesn't gloss over problems; for example, other kids at the campsite tease and stare at Ben, who screams and cries when encountering a new experience, like dragonflies. His many problems affect Chad's life, too: he can't have a pet, for instance. Ben can be a nuisance, but he is also quick to hug and show affection, and here he is shown in the context of a lovely and supportive family. The author provides an afterword by his own 13-year-old nephew, who discusses living with his brother. The title concludes with tips for living with a disabled sibling and a Web site support group for siblings. The watercolor illustrations are merely competent, but have an awkward charm, especially when focusing on the faces of Ben and Chad appearing joyful, sulky, angry, or fearful. A useful title for discussion with general as well as special populations. (Fiction. 7-9)Read full book review >
REARRANGING by David Gifaldi
Released: May 1, 1998

Sweet and sour, hot and cold, vicious and tender, joyous and sorry: As in the days of adolescence, this collection from Gifaldi (Gregory, Maw, and the Mean One, 1992) is full of contradictions. In "Me and Johnny," a girl waits for her estranged father, who, true to his habits, doesn't show up; in "Mr. Burrell," some boys play a nasty trick on one of their group who is big and slow. The last four stories find exceptional truths in some painfully awkward moments: In "Paying Respects," a boy attends the wake of a teammate's sibling and learns to see treasure both in his own life and in a shared piece of candy; in "The Driving Lesson," a mother struggles to communicate the facts of life to her daughter. The final, transcendent story, "And Angels Too," takes trash-poor Ruthie and Wayne and transforms them into archetypal teenagers on a hot summer night. The stories gather in force as the book progresses, until every protagonist has come to a moment that "rearranges" his or her thinking—whether a shifting perspective of the past, a glimmering notion of the future, or both. (Short stories. 11-14) Read full book review >
Released: Sept. 21, 1992

Norbert Meaney earns his moniker by throwing horses through windows and terrorizing children—because, he boasts, he has no heart. To save their lives and town, young Gregory and Maw (a fiery-tempered crow who has raised the lad) propose taking The Mean One back in time to find his missing organ. The humor here is in contrasting Gregory—likable, gentle, enjoying a close relationship with his feathered parent—and the rank, bellowing, hairy giant. But that's not enough to carry a story of this length, and Meaney never seems all that nasty anyway; in the end, heart recovered (he lost it at 13 to a pretty classmate), he charges off to bathe and right all the wrongs he's committed. An aimless and loose-jointed yarn, but mildly funny. (Fiction. 11-13) Read full book review >