Books by Jo Hoestlandt

GRAN, YOU’VE GOT MAIL! by Jo Hoestlandt
Released: Sept. 9, 2008

A series of letters between 12-year-old Annabelle and her great-grandmother show Annabelle's increasing sympathy for the older woman, who becomes a friend and confidante. Typically self-centered at first, Annabelle complains about her family and the loss of her best friend. This prompts her previously brusque great-grandmother to recall a friend she lost, and still misses. Over the six-month span of the letters, Annabelle makes new friends, and the older woman sends her a kitten and some of her old dresses. When Gran has to have her foot amputated, Annabelle has matured enough to realize the seriousness of her condition, and her letters give the ailing woman new hope. Abolivier's tiny grey-scale drawings identify the writer and illustrate each entry. The translation is modern and reads smoothly, but is more formal than the language a teen writer would realistically use. Overall, this is a believable exploration of the growth of a relationship between a woman with strong, sad memories from the First World War and a member of the digital generation. (Fiction. 10-14)Read full book review >
Released: May 8, 1995

The thoughtless words of childhood become the focus of the narrator's haunted memories of WW II. Helen recalls the events of her ninth birthday in occupied France in 1942. Lydia, her best friend, comes over to spend the night, and they amuse themselves by telling ghost stories. When a stranger wearing a yellow star like Lydia's comes looking for a place to hide, Lydia suddenly wants to go home. Helen is angry and shouts to the departing girl that she is not her friend anymore. The next day Lydia and her family have disappeared. The simple storyline brings together a complex combination of elements—ghost stories and fights between friends who suddenly find themselves in the context of war—all of which are penetrated by an equally complex narratorial voice, capable of differentiating among subtle shades of emotion. It belongs both to the old woman telling the story and to the nine-year-old girl she was. As a result of this layering of perspective, the characters and story have depth through minimal means (sketchy details, snatches of conversation). This is even more effective in the wondrous pictures. In her first book, Kang's palette contains only browns, grays, yellows, and redsmuted colors, forming the geometric interiors of barren apartments. If the individual colors and shapes in the pictures are simple, as a whole they create an intensely expressive atmosphere. (Picture book. 7-10) Read full book review >