Amen, called Amie—so named because her father was still praying for a son after four daughters—is the winsome narrator, beginning at age six, of this gentle and thoughtful story. Amie loves words, loves to learn them, and loves to ponder what they mean in the context of her family at The Willows at the turn of the last century. Mama keeps mostly to her room, Papa is a stern, but loving Victorian paterfamilias, and Aunt Pauline is repressed and obnoxious. The twin Bellas, Arabella and Annabella, are the sisters closest in age to Amie, and they see the world aslant. Nearby lives a recluse named Mr. Tominski, whom Papa supplies with food and cares for in other ways, but the girls fear him even though all he seems to do is take care of a flock of doves. Grandmama comes to visit, and teaches the girls how to use a camera; Uncle William comes to visit, and tells them about the stars. A new baby brother is born. Their beloved dog Scout dies. Amie introduces her little brother to the grave of the sister who died after only ten days and the house gets electricity. Amie tries to use all the lovely new words she learns in poems to hold and express all of her tumultuous feelings about these events, especially the sad, unnecessary death of Mr. Tominski, whose story the family learns only after it’s too late. The lives of a well-to-do turn-of-the-century family are limned with attention to daily activities and daily joys and sorrows in a prose that ripples with clarity and sweetness and an underlying evolution of spirit. (Fiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2002

ISBN: 0-670-03576-9

Page Count: 112

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2002



From the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series , Vol. 14

Readers can still rely on this series to bring laughs.

The Heffley family’s house undergoes a disastrous attempt at home improvement.

When Great Aunt Reba dies, she leaves some money to the family. Greg’s mom calls a family meeting to determine what to do with their share, proposing home improvements and then overruling the family’s cartoonish wish lists and instead pushing for an addition to the kitchen. Before bringing in the construction crew, the Heffleys attempt to do minor maintenance and repairs themselves—during which Greg fails at the work in various slapstick scenes. Once the professionals are brought in, the problems keep getting worse: angry neighbors, terrifying problems in walls, and—most serious—civil permitting issues that put the kibosh on what work’s been done. Left with only enough inheritance to patch and repair the exterior of the house—and with the school’s dismal standardized test scores as a final straw—Greg’s mom steers the family toward moving, opening up house-hunting and house-selling storylines (and devastating loyal Rowley, who doesn’t want to lose his best friend). While Greg’s positive about the move, he’s not completely uncaring about Rowley’s action. (And of course, Greg himself is not as unaffected as he wishes.) The gags include effectively placed callbacks to seemingly incidental events (the “stress lizard” brought in on testing day is particularly funny) and a lampoon of after-school-special–style problem books. Just when it seems that the Heffleys really will move, a new sequence of chaotic trouble and property destruction heralds a return to the status quo. Whew.

Readers can still rely on this series to bring laughs. (Graphic/fiction hybrid. 8-12)

Pub Date: Nov. 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4197-3903-3

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Amulet/Abrams

Review Posted Online: Nov. 18, 2019


Telgemeier’s bold colors, superior visual storytelling, and unusual subject matter will keep readers emotionally engaged and...

Catrina narrates the story of her mixed-race (Latino/white) family’s move from Southern California to Bahía de la Luna on the Northern California coast.

Dad has a new job, but it’s little sister Maya’s lungs that motivate the move: she has had cystic fibrosis since birth—a degenerative breathing condition. Despite her health, Maya loves adventure, even if her lungs suffer for it and even when Cat must follow to keep her safe. When Carlos, a tall, brown, and handsome teen Ghost Tour guide introduces the sisters to the Bahía ghosts—most of whom were Spanish-speaking Mexicans when alive—they fascinate Maya and she them, but the terrified Cat wants only to get herself and Maya back to safety. When the ghost adventure leads to Maya’s hospitalization, Cat blames both herself and Carlos, which makes seeing him at school difficult. As Cat awakens to the meaning of Halloween and Day of the Dead in this strange new home, she comes to understand the importance of the ghosts both to herself and to Maya. Telgemeier neatly balances enough issues that a lesser artist would split them into separate stories and delivers as much delight textually as visually. The backmatter includes snippets from Telgemeier’s sketchbook and a photo of her in Día makeup.

Telgemeier’s bold colors, superior visual storytelling, and unusual subject matter will keep readers emotionally engaged and unable to put down this compelling tale. (Graphic fiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: Sept. 13, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-545-54061-2

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: July 1, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2016

Close Quickview