HOPE IS A GIRL SELLING FRUIT

“We’re all in this together,” Das writes, “lost, but not quite.” Older, Western children and teens may well feel they’ve...

Das debuts with illustrations done in a distinctive Indian style paired to a brief meditative text—part memoir, part artist’s statement, part rumination—on women’s personal journeys.

Sparked by a workshop assignment, the artist recalls her own childhood and, on a certain train trip, encounters with two young women. One travels alone to find work; the other, disabled but composed in the face of jeers, sells fruit from a cart. Centered on each spread (and sometimes losing a little in the gutters), the art, done in the Mithila folk tradition, offers large, often multiple scenes of, mostly, women in flat-perspective rural or urban settings, delineated in wavy lines and contrasting patterns. Though strongly stylized, the activities in which these figures are engaged are easy to identify, and they range from traditional farm or domestic work to riding a scooter, painting, using a computer keyboard or just sitting in quiet thought. “A girl’s life is hard,” Das reflects. “If you dream for a moment, you’re asked why you’re twiddling your thumbs.…No one lets you forget that you’re born a girl, not a boy.” Still, she takes heart from the two chance-met women and ends with: “I want to be brave, and different.”

“We’re all in this together,” Das writes, “lost, but not quite.” Older, Western children and teens may well feel they’ve found an unexpected comrade. (afterword on the art) (Picture book. 11-16)

Pub Date: April 15, 2014

ISBN: 978-93-83145-02-7

Page Count: 28

Publisher: Tara Publishing

Review Posted Online: Jan. 14, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2014

THE SECRET DIARY OF ASHLEY JUERGENS

Ghostwritten for a fictional 13-year-old character on the ABC Family network show Secret Life of the American Teenager, this September-to-August journal recaps the first season and part of the second—from 15-year-old sister Amy’s revelation that she’s pregnant through her parents’ divorce and the news that her mother herself is expecting. In the snarky tone she generally takes onscreen, narrator Ashley relates events from her own point of view and elaborates on them in long, wordy entries replete with adolescent self-assurance. Of a run-in with the school principal, for instance: “I think the real reason I got into trouble was because I expressed my individuality. It tends to scare authority figures when someone my age does that.” This “enhanced” e-book includes 10 brief video clips embedded in the general vicinity of their relevant passages. There is also a closing page of links to expedite the posting of reader ratings and reviews. Aside from a pair of footnotes pushed to a screen at the end, far away from their original contexts, the translation to digital format works seamlessly for reading/viewing in either single-page/portrait or double-page/landscape orientation. There’s enough standard-issue teen and domestic drama here to keep fans of such fare reading, but devotees of the show may be disappointed at the lack of significant new content, either in the narrative itself or in the e-book’s media features. (Fiction. 11-13)

Pub Date: June 22, 2010

ISBN: 978-1-4013-9596-4

Page Count: 432

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion

Review Posted Online: April 4, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2011

THE ORPHAN OF AWKWARD FALLS

Unfortunate Events galore, served with relish.

The creator of such picture books as Frank Was a Monster Who Wanted to Dance (1999) and Three Nasty Gnarlies (2003) dishes up a first novel seasoned with the same delightfully twisted, ghoulish sensibility.

Immediately upon arriving in Awkward Falls, a small Manitoba town known for its canned sauerkraut and its Asylum for the Dangerously Insane (“both,” notes the narrator, “to be avoided at all costs, as one was likely to cause gas, and the other, death.”), 12-year-old Josephine meets agemate Thaddeus Hibble. Thaddeus is a scientific genius who has lived alone since infancy on an all–junk-food diet supplied by a robot butler and paid for by re-animating the dead pets of local matrons. Together the two are plunged into personal danger and worse at the clutching hands of hunchbacked lunatic cannibal Fetid Stenchley, former lab assistant and Asylum escapee. With aid from a supporting cast of colorful locals, a half-rotted corpse brought back to partial life and a ravening herd of chimerical monsters created in a secret biotechnology lab, Graves crafts a quick-moving plot composed of macabre twists. These are made all the ickier for being presented in significant part from Stenchley’s point of view. Wordless opening and closing sequences, plus a handful of interior illustrations, both fill in background detail and intensify the overall macabre atmosphere. The central characters receive just, if, under the circumstances, not necessarily final deserts.

Unfortunate Events galore, served with relish. (finished illustrations not seen) (Melodrama. 11-13)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-8118-7814-2

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Chronicle Books

Review Posted Online: Aug. 2, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2011

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