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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Poet Alexander deftly reveals the power of the format to pack an emotional punch.

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THE CROSSOVER

Basketball-playing twins find challenges to their relationship on and off the court as they cope with changes in their lives.

Josh Bell and his twin, Jordan, aka JB, are stars of their school basketball team. They are also successful students, since their educator mother will stand for nothing else. As the two middle schoolers move to a successful season, readers can see their differences despite the sibling connection. After all, Josh has dreadlocks and is quiet on court, and JB is bald and a trash talker. Their love of the sport comes from their father, who had also excelled in the game, though his championship was achieved overseas. Now, however, he does not have a job and seems to have health problems the parents do not fully divulge to the boys. The twins experience their first major rift when JB is attracted to a new girl in their school, and Josh finds himself without his brother. This novel in verse is rich in character and relationships. Most interesting is the family dynamic that informs so much of the narrative, which always reveals, never tells. While Josh relates the story, readers get a full picture of major and minor players. The basketball action provides energy and rhythm for a moving story.

Poet Alexander deftly reveals the power of the format to pack an emotional punch. (Verse fiction. 9-12)

Pub Date: March 18, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-544-10771-7

Page Count: 240

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: Dec. 18, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2014

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