HATTIE AND THE WILD WAVES

A STORY FROM BROOKLYN

A story that, like Cooney's Miss Rumphuis (1982) and Island Boy (1988), presents the life of an idiosyncratic character in the context of a historical setting. Hattie's parents, German immigrants, are already wealthy; Papa, who is "in the woodwork business," has built a beautiful house with gleaming paneling in every room. There are servants, a summer "cottage" at Far Rockaway, and—as time goes on—ever more luxurious surroundings. Quietly undeterred by affluence, Hattie makes a good friend of the cook's granddaughter and, as an inveterate artist who has always been inspired by the sea, grows up to enroll in art school—not "just like Opa" (her mother's father, a painter) but, as Hattie says, "Just like me." Hattie's Papa, like Cooney's grandfather, builds a fine Brooklyn hotel where the family later lives. This engaging piece of fictionalized family history is graced with Cooney's usual fine illustrations, with fluent, perfectly balanced compositions, delectable, lucid color, and nifty authentic detail. A disarming portrait that makes clear that wealth is incidental to a happy, creative life.

Pub Date: N/A

ISBN: 0-670-83056-9

Page Count: -

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2000

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KEVIN AND HIS DAD

There is something profoundly elemental going on in Smalls’s book: the capturing of a moment of unmediated joy. It’s not melodramatic, but just a Saturday in which an African-American father and son immerse themselves in each other’s company when the woman of the house is away. Putting first things first, they tidy up the house, with an unheralded sense of purpose motivating their actions: “Then we clean, clean, clean the windows,/wipe, wipe, wash them right./My dad shines in the windows’ light.” When their work is done, they head for the park for some batting practice, then to the movies where the boy gets to choose between films. After a snack, they work their way homeward, racing each other, doing a dance step or two, then “Dad takes my hand and slows down./I understand, and we slow down./It’s a long, long walk./We have a quiet talk and smile.” Smalls treats the material without pretense, leaving it guileless and thus accessible to readers. Hays’s artwork is wistful and idyllic, just as this day is for one small boy. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: April 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-316-79899-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 1999

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RAMONA'S WORLD

Ramona returns (Ramona Forever, 1988, etc.), and she’s as feisty as ever, now nine-going-on-ten (or “zeroteen,” as she calls it). Her older sister Beezus is in high school, baby-sitting, getting her ears pierced, and going to her first dance, and now they have a younger baby sister, Roberta. Cleary picks up on all the details of fourth grade, from comparing hand calluses to the distribution of little plastic combs by the school photographer. This year Ramona is trying to improve her spelling, and Cleary is especially deft at limning the emotional nuances as Ramona fails and succeeds, goes from sad to happy, and from hurt to proud. The grand finale is Ramona’s birthday party in the park, complete with a cake frosted in whipped cream. Despite a brief mention of nose piercing, Cleary’s writing still reflects a secure middle-class family and untroubled school life, untouched by the classroom violence or the broken families of the 1990s. While her book doesn’t match what’s in the newspapers, it’s a timeless, serene alternative for children, especially those with less than happy realities. (Fiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: Aug. 25, 1999

ISBN: 0-688-16816-7

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 1999

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