MARIE IN FOURTH POSITION

THE STORY OF DEGAS' ``THE LITTLE DANCER''

The question of how it might have felt to pose for the famous Monsieur Degas is considered in Littlesugar's story. Schoenherr's lovely, rich full-color illustrations copy the style of Degas's pastel ballet studies, bringing the artist's studio and era to life. The text is more socially conscious than aesthetically pleasing, e.g., Marie is called a ``rat'' rather than ``petit rat,'' the more affectionate appellation for beginning dancers, and the sentence that ``she danced as hard as the main ballet girls'' falls flat. The tale, however, is both imaginative and realistic, incorporating Degas's reputation for being demanding with his models and the working class origins of many of the dancers at the Paris Opera. Here, Marie von Goethem's mother is a laundress, and her father is a tailor. While Marie poses for what will be the sculpture known as ``The Little Dancer,'' she is not exhausted, for Degas gives her imagination flight, helping her to become a better dancer. The idea is charming and balances nicely with the reality: Many dancers lived in obscurity, unsung except for Degas's immortalization of moments they spent backstage or in the chorus. An unusual, thoughtful look behind the scenes in both the performing and visual arts, this is a comely story that will be useful in curricula. (Picture book. 6+)

Pub Date: Sept. 10, 1996

ISBN: 0-399-22794-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Philomel

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 1996

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A witty addition to the long-running series.

THE DEEP END

From the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series , Vol. 15

The Wimpy Kid hits the road.

The Heffley clan has been stuck living together in Gramma’s basement for two months, waiting for the family home to be repaired, and the constant togetherness has been getting on everybody’s nerves. Luckily Greg’s Uncle Gary has a camper waiting for someone to use it, and so the Heffleys set off on the open road looking for an adventurous vacation, hoping the changing scenery will bring a spark back to the family unit. The winding road leads the Heffleys to a sprawling RV park, a setting teeming with possibilities for Greg to get up to his usual shenanigans. Greg’s snarky asides and misadventures continue to entertain. At this point the Wimpy Kid books run like a well-oiled machine, paced perfectly with witty lines, smart gags, and charming cartoons. Kinney knows just where to put a joke, the precise moment to give a character shading, and exactly how to get the narrative rolling, spinning out the oddest plot developments. The appreciation Kinney has for these characters seeps through the novels, endearing the Heffleys to readers even through this title, the 15th installment in a franchise boasting spinoffs, movies, and merchandise. There may come a time when Greg and his family overstay their welcome, but thankfully that day still seems far off.

A witty addition to the long-running series. (Humor. 7-12)

Pub Date: Oct. 27, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4197-4868-4

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Amulet/Abrams

Review Posted Online: Nov. 24, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2020

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An endearing protagonist runs the first, fast leg of Reynolds' promising relay.

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GHOST

From the Track series , Vol. 1

Castle “Ghost” Cranshaw feels like he’s been running ever since his dad pulled that gun on him and his mom—and used it.

His dad’s been in jail three years now, but Ghost still feels the trauma, which is probably at the root of the many “altercations” he gets into at middle school. When he inserts himself into a practice for a local elite track team, the Defenders, he’s fast enough that the hard-as-nails coach decides to put him on the team. Ghost is surprised to find himself caring enough about being on the team that he curbs his behavior to avoid “altercations.” But Ma doesn’t have money to spare on things like fancy running shoes, so Ghost shoplifts a pair that make his feet feel impossibly light—and his conscience correspondingly heavy. Ghost’s narration is candid and colloquial, reminiscent of such original voices as Bud Caldwell and Joey Pigza; his level of self-understanding is both believably childlike and disarming in its perception. He is self-focused enough that secondary characters initially feel one-dimensional, Coach in particular, but as he gets to know them better, so do readers, in a way that unfolds naturally and pleasingly. His three fellow “newbies” on the Defenders await their turns to star in subsequent series outings. Characters are black by default; those few white people in Ghost’s world are described as such.

An endearing protagonist runs the first, fast leg of Reynolds' promising relay. (Fiction. 10-14)

Pub Date: Aug. 30, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-4814-5015-7

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Caitlyn Dlouhy/Atheneum

Review Posted Online: July 20, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2016

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