THE SUMMER OF THE SWANS

With increasing frequency juvenile fiction is contracting to the dimensions of a short story and the endoskeleton (dialogue, stage directions, asides to the audience) of drama—of which the climax to Sara's season of discontent is a good example. For fourteen years she had "loved her sister without envy, her aunt without finding her coarse, her brother without pity." Now that "I'm not anything" (pretty or smart or athletic), ten-year-old Charlie is "retarded" and everyone else is contemptible—especially classmate Joe Melby, suspected of having taken Charlie's prized wristwatch. Then Charlie gets lost and Joe, a gentle knight plus something of a saint, insists on helping Sara find him. Dismayed because she's learned he was innocent, she hesitates over the words to say so, whereupon Joe tells her a story—of a guru who for twenty-eight years has been searching for "some great wise word"—and she gets the point and, smiling, says she's sorry. It's a sublime moment that even finding the terrified Charlie doesn't surpass, nor Joe's invitation to a dance. The book is a succession of clicks that connect, a sparse but acute self-possessing.

Pub Date: March 30, 1970

ISBN: 0142401145

Page Count: 148

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: April 18, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 1970

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A memorable story of kindness, courage and wonder.

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WONDER

After being home-schooled for years, Auggie Pullman is about to start fifth grade, but he’s worried: How will he fit into middle school life when he looks so different from everyone else?

Auggie has had 27 surgeries to correct facial anomalies he was born with, but he still has a face that has earned him such cruel nicknames as Freak, Freddy Krueger, Gross-out and Lizard face. Though “his features look like they’ve been melted, like the drippings on a candle” and he’s used to people averting their eyes when they see him, he’s an engaging boy who feels pretty ordinary inside. He’s smart, funny, kind and brave, but his father says that having Auggie attend Beecher Prep would be like sending “a lamb to the slaughter.” Palacio divides the novel into eight parts, interspersing Auggie’s first-person narrative with the voices of family members and classmates, wisely expanding the story beyond Auggie’s viewpoint and demonstrating that Auggie’s arrival at school doesn’t test only him, it affects everyone in the community. Auggie may be finding his place in the world, but that world must find a way to make room for him, too.

A memorable story of kindness, courage and wonder. (Fiction. 8-14)

Pub Date: Feb. 14, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-375-86902-0

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: Dec. 3, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2011

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Cooperation makes cleaning go much faster—particularly with friendly, rhyming llamas to show the way.

LLAMA LLAMA MESS MESS MESS

From the Llama Llama series

Llama Llama learns why tidying is important.

In yet another highly familiar childhood drama, Llama Llama does not want to clean up his toys. He’s having fun playing; why should he stop? Isn’t it Mama Llama’s job to clean up? Mama poses the question: “What if Mama never cleaned? / Imagine that! / What would that mean?” Mama zooms off on her roller skates, with a sheet for a cape, crunching snacks and dropping everything on the floor. Soon the house is strewn with toys, dirty dishes, and trash. “Crumbs and clothes and peanut shells… / What’s this thing? What’s that smell?” Llama Llama can’t take it anymore. “No more Llama / MESS / MESS / MESS!” Perhaps it is a good idea for Llama Llama to lend a hand. Helpful hints for youngsters are slipped inside: Every toy should have a place, and when making your bed, don’t forget to look underneath. This second collaboration between Duncan and Morrow since Dewdney’s passing feels more complete than Llama Llama Loves to Read (2018), with snappy rhythms and a twinkle in Mama’s eye. Returning to Llama Llama and Mama’s relationship feels like home.

Cooperation makes cleaning go much faster—particularly with friendly, rhyming llamas to show the way. (Picture book. 2-6)

Pub Date: Aug. 20, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-670-01644-0

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: May 12, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2019

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