Books by Donald Gates

THE SUMMER OF STANLEY by Natalie Kinsey-Warnock
ANIMALS
Released: May 1, 1997

Kinsey-Warnock (Sweet Memories Still, 1997, etc.) sets her story in 1945 when Molly's father is off fighting in the war and she, her mother, brother Tyler, and grandfather keep the home fires burning and the Victory Garden growing. Grandpa gives Molly an unwelcome pet for her birthday—a goat whom, predictably, only Tyler loves. Molly had wanted a bicycle like her best friend Annie's, not a noisy eating machine. Stanley proves his worth one day when Molly is in charge of Tyler, who decides to go swimming against Molly's orders. Annie and Molly are shocked to discover Tyler in very deep water and in danger of drowning, until Molly sends Stanley to the rescue. The goat saves the boy but injures himself in the swift current. The real star of this competent but predictable book is Gates's marvelously detailed and luminous art; it hardly evokes 1945, but does bring to glowing, bucolic life a gentler—though war-torn—time. (Picture book. 4-8) Read full book review >
HOGGLE'S CHRISTMAS by Rick Shelton
CHILDREN'S
Released: Sept. 1, 1993

Shelton's first children's book has some not-quite-magical adventures and a mildly satisfying conclusion; its best feature is an appealing narrative style. Richard (10) and Isabel (6) are befriended by new neighbor Mr. Hoggle, a high-school science teacher with eyes ``dark gold like the color of hickory leaves in the fall'' and skin ``the color of...pecans.'' Together, they have three adventures; then, without adequate explanation, Hoggle moves away. At the start, the children are mourning his departure; there's a flashback to the adventures, then a return to the present. What's missing in this jumpy sequence is any development of Hoggle's character or African-American identity- -other than his gift of African drums and masks (with which the kids later summon up a Christmas snowstorm). ``Being friends with Hoggle had been like having a bowl of ice cream that never ran out''; maybe, but he vanishes before we get to know him. Gates's appealingly realistic soft-pencil art (also a debut) depicts the children and their other friends as white. Ostensibly taking place in Tuscaloosa, a book that's especially undermined by its generic treatment of characters and setting. (Fiction. 8-12) Read full book review >