An imaginative, playful book about accepting and embracing differences.



An offbeat young boy, a well-liked student and an ingenious teacher meet in this debut children’s book.

Zack “Zim” Zimmerman is one of the most popular fifth-graders at William E. Zane Elementary School. He has a ton of friends, gets good grades and is among the stars of the Knights soccer team. His classmate Maralissa Lou, on the other hand, has a strange name, “two too-large ears and a small crop of unruly brown hair right in the center of the top” of his head, and a rather eclectic wardrobe. When Zim and his friends reject him, their resourceful teacher, Miss Poppycock, creates the Secret Drawer Club to make them all mingle. Poppycock puts a notebook in Zim’s desk and gives him various quests to complete with the other kids. By the end, everyone has learned a little more about each other and about acceptance. Maralissa Lou is a fun, frothy character who’s a great role model for kids: He knows he’s a bit odd, but he accepts his differences with the knowledge that they make him special. Zim is also highly relatable, as he shows that doing the right thing can sometimes be hard; in the end, he learns a lesson and becomes a better person. The prose is a bit basic, but children will be held by Holzschuh’s illustrations, although they might have been lovelier in full color. The foreword and short poem by Coker, however, seem strange additions for a kids’ book, even if the verse is about Maralissa Lou. Overall, though, Turner’s book is a sweet read for children and adults, particularly at the beginning of a new school year.

An imaginative, playful book about accepting and embracing differences.

Pub Date: July 29, 2014

ISBN: 978-1612541754

Page Count: 68

Publisher: Brown Books Publishing Group

Review Posted Online: Sept. 18, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2014

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Like the quiet lap of waves on the sand, the alternating introspections of two Bahamian island children in 1492. Morning Girl and her brother Star Boy are very different: she loves the hush of pre-dawn while he revels in night skies, noise, wind. In many ways they are antagonists, each too young and subjective to understand the other's perspective—in contrast to their mother's appreciation for her brother. In the course of these taut chapters concerning such pivotal events as their mother's losing a child, the arrival of a hurricane, or Star Boy's earning the right to his adult name, they grow closer. In the last, Morning Girl greets— with cordial innocence—a boat full of visitors, unaware that her beautifully balanced and textured life is about to be catalogued as ``very poor in everything,'' her island conquered by Europeans. This paradise is so intensely and believably imagined that the epilogue, quoted from Columbus's diary, sickens with its ominous significance. Subtly, Dorris draws parallels between the timeless chafings of sibs set on changing each other's temperaments and the intrusions of states questing new territory. Saddening, compelling—a novel to be cherished for its compassion and humanity. (Fiction. 8+)

Pub Date: Sept. 14, 1992

ISBN: 1-56282-284-5

Page Count: 80

Publisher: Hyperion

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 1992

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An engaging mix of gentle behavior modeling and inventive story ideas that may well provide just the push needed to get some...


With a little help from his audience, a young storyteller gets over a solid case of writer’s block in this engaging debut.

Despite the (sometimes creatively spelled) examples produced by all his classmates and the teacher’s assertion that “Stories are everywhere!” Ralph can’t get past putting his name at the top of his paper. One day, lying under the desk in despair, he remembers finding an inchworm in the park. That’s all he has, though, until his classmates’ questions—“Did it feel squishy?” “Did your mom let you keep it?” “Did you name it?”—open the floodgates for a rousing yarn featuring an interloping toddler, a broad comic turn and a dramatic rescue. Hanlon illustrates the episode with childlike scenes done in transparent colors, featuring friendly-looking children with big smiles and widely spaced button eyes. The narrative text is printed in standard type, but the children’s dialogue is rendered in hand-lettered printing within speech balloons. The episode is enhanced with a page of elementary writing tips and the tantalizing titles of his many subsequent stories (“When I Ate Too Much Spaghetti,” “The Scariest Hamster,” “When the Librarian Yelled Really Loud at Me,” etc.) on the back endpapers.

An engaging mix of gentle behavior modeling and inventive story ideas that may well provide just the push needed to get some budding young writers off and running. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 18, 2012

ISBN: 978-0761461807

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Amazon Children's Publishing

Review Posted Online: Aug. 22, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2012

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