Books by Kimberly Olson Fakih

HIGH ON THE HOG by Kimberly Olson Fakih
Released: May 1, 1994

Staying on in Iowa at her great-grandparents' farm while her parents find a home in NYC, where Dad has a lucrative new job, Trapp clings to the turf whose impending loss is entwined, for her, with ``Grandma'' and ``Grandpa's'' mortality—an idea given poignancy by the death, a year ago, of ``Nana Q,'' their daughter and Trapp's grandmother. Trapp, naturally solitary, thoughtful, and affectionate, pitches in with chores and observes her elders' happy 60-year relationship. Mystified at finding ancient carved initials—Grandpa's ``RH'' with ``GS,'' not Grandma's—she pieces together subtle clues (word choices, old photos) and arrives at a startling truth: Nana Q was adopted. This fact, which 50 years of rural reticence has rendered a secret, recasts Trapp's inner world, her concept of family, and her view of her birthplace (like the woman who bore Nana Q, she'll carry it in her heart, but it won't hold her). She also senses that her over-orderly mindset could be tempered by openness to chance. At this turning point in their history, Fakih's characters are leading fully examined (and discussed) lives; but though her narrative is leisurely, it holds interest with its unexpected flashes of humor and its engaging evocation of the Heartland and some of its sons and daughters, as well as the tantalizing mystery. A beautifully constructed book, rich in offbeat descriptions and exchanges that leave room for just the kind of serendipitous insights that ``GS''—who does turn up—extols. (Fiction. 10-14) Read full book review >
Released: April 16, 1992

What a gift: Two delectably funny books coming out in April, old-hand Lowry's (below) and this splendid debut. While their parents go to Europe on business, Jazz and her brother Koo are left with wealthy, white-suited Grandpa Putter, whose WW II crony chauffeurs his long white car, and—from the other side—with feisty, down-to-earth Granny Hoe, who runs a hardware store where she also sells her own garden produce. Custody is shared, with the twins at Granny's on weekends, leaving plenty of room for disagreement between the spirited longtime antagonists: to the kids' consternation, their elders' ebullient bickering is continual. Ten varied incidents (Granny fixes Grandpa's car after it strands him; Jazz gets sick; the kids prepare a generous picnic for a homeless person; a parade, etc.) deftly develop several affectionate relationships, especially through the kids' efforts to get everybody together and through the grandparents' sprouting mutual respect. It's all amusingly recorded in Fakih's briskly lilting narrative and neatly cadenced dialogue. Several chapters end with nifty tallies of the characters' points of view (wittily concise, these summaries recall Barbara Porte's tongue-in-cheek humor); meanwhile, the grands' bickering makes a comical stand-in for the more bitter conflicts children endure between parents or siblings. Illustrations plentiful, though not seen in finished form; Pearson's lighthearted style should be perfect here. A delightful early chapter book, well worth reading aloud. (Fiction. 6-10) Read full book review >