THE FRED FIELD

In an event-packed continuation of the saga of Oren Bell (1991) and his colorful inner-city Detroit family, the young African-American and his twin, Latonya, spend the summer after seventh grade fostering a ballpark (``Fred Field'') in memory of a gifted homeless friend who was murdered in the crack house that formerly occupied the site; discovering Fred's murderer and, by convincing him that Fred's ghost is haunting him, forcing him to confess; and organizing Mama's July 4 wedding—not to mention playing in a band and participating in an arts project. The exuberant productivity of these kids is almost a tall tale, but a joyously inspirational one: Latonya plans to be a doctor and manages the household with efficiency and panache while Mama goes to college and holds a job; little Brenda, though subject to depression, is creative and resilient; and, if Oren doesn't shine like his sisters, he's still thoughtful and reliable enough to make a perfect best man for his nice new dad. Burgess's witty narrative is a delight, with vivid, briskly developed scenes, a wealth of vibrant characters, and staccato dialogue that unobtrusively incorporates their firm grasp of what's feasible and what's right. Though upbeat, the story isn't simplistic; in the end, the city razes the Bell's beloved home and the ballfield, but at least the new housing to be built there will be named for Fred. Splendidly warmhearted and engrossing. (Fiction. 10-14)

Pub Date: June 1, 1994

ISBN: 0-385-31070-6

Page Count: 182

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1994

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The inevitable go-to for Percy’s legions of fans who want the stories behind his stories.

PERCY JACKSON'S GREEK GODS

Percy Jackson takes a break from adventuring to serve up the Greek gods like flapjacks at a church breakfast.

Percy is on form as he debriefs readers concerning Chaos, Gaea, Ouranos and Pontus, Dionysus, Ariadne and Persephone, all in his dude’s patter: “He’d forgotten how beautiful Gaea could be when she wasn’t all yelling up in his face.” Here they are, all 12 Olympians, plus many various offspring and associates: the gold standard of dysfunctional families, whom Percy plays like a lute, sometimes lyrically, sometimes with a more sardonic air. Percy’s gift, which is no great secret, is to breathe new life into the gods. Closest attention is paid to the Olympians, but Riordan has a sure touch when it comes to fitting much into a small space—as does Rocco’s artwork, which smokes and writhes on the page as if hit by lightning—so readers will also meet Makaria, “goddess of blessed peaceful deaths,” and the Theban Teiresias, who accidentally sees Athena bathing. She blinds him but also gives him the ability to understand the language of birds. The atmosphere crackles and then dissolves, again and again: “He could even send the Furies after living people if they committed a truly horrific crime—like killing a family member, desecrating a temple, or singing Journey songs on karaoke night.”

The inevitable go-to for Percy’s legions of fans who want the stories behind his stories. (Mythology. 10-14)

Pub Date: Aug. 19, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4231-8364-8

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion

Review Posted Online: June 29, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2014

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NIM'S ISLAND

A child finds that being alone in a tiny tropical paradise has its ups and downs in this appealingly offbeat tale from the Australian author of Peeling the Onion (1999). Though her mother is long dead and her scientist father Jack has just sailed off on a quick expedition to gather plankton, Nim is anything but lonely on her small island home. Not only does she have constant companions in Selkie, a sea lion, and a marine iguana named Fred, but Chica, a green turtle, has just arrived for an annual egg-laying—and, through the solar-powered laptop, she has even made a new e-mail friend in famed adventure novelist Alex Rover. Then a string of mishaps darkens Nim’s sunny skies: her father loses rudder and dish antenna in a storm; a tourist ship that was involved in her mother’s death appears off the island’s reefs; and, running down a volcanic slope, Nim takes a nasty spill that leaves her feverish, with an infected knee. Though she lives halfway around the world and is in reality a decidedly unadventurous urbanite, Alex, short for “Alexandra,” sets off to the rescue, arriving in the midst of another storm that requires Nim and companions to rescue her. Once Jack brings his battered boat limping home, the stage is set for sunny days again. Plenty of comic, freely-sketched line drawings help to keep the tone light, and Nim, with her unusual associates and just-right mix of self-reliance and vulnerability, makes a character young readers won’t soon tire of. (Fiction. 10-12)

Pub Date: March 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-375-81123-0

Page Count: 144

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2000

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