TRUE FRIENDS

Courtney Brown is on top of the world—she's best friends with the sixth grade's most popular girl, she's been chosen as a cheerleader, and her chilly stepmother is beginning to seem sympathetic. But then, in the course of four days, everything turns around. Her older brother is mistakenly arrested for drug dealing, her stepmother runs off with another man, her father's auto shop is closed down by the bank, and Courtney herself is wrongly accused of stealing some class money. Instantly, the cool kids desert her, and soon her only friend is plucky Judy Baird, a physically handicapped girl from the housing projects who teaches Courtney to stand up for herself. Courtney swiftly convinces the principal she didn't steal the money, pulls her father out of his depression (he then easily gets an extension on his loan), and ends up more popular than ever. She brings Judy with her into the ``in'' crowd, naturally. Wallace's (Danger in Quicksand Swamp, 1989) idea of life in junior high is a bit dated but may be close enough to reality in the small Texas town in which the story is set. It is also hard to believe that Courtney would be so totally ostracized at the drop of a hat, but, since that's how pre- adolescents imagine the world operates, maybe the target audience will respond to it. Maybe. A clumsy little novel. (Fiction. 9-12)

Pub Date: Oct. 15, 1994

ISBN: 0-8234-1141-9

Page Count: 169

Publisher: Holiday House

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 1994

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LAWN BOY

After his grandmother gives him an old riding lawnmower for his summer birthday, this comedy’s 12-year-old narrator putt-putts into a series of increasingly complex and economically advantageous adventures. As each lawn job begets another, one client—persuasive day-trader Arnold Howell—barters market investing and dubious local business connections. Our naïve entrepreneur thus unwittingly acquires stock in an Internet start-up and a coffin company; a capable landscaping staff of 15 and the sponsorship of a hulking boxer named Joseph Powdermilk. There’s a semi-climactic scuffle with some bad guys bent on appropriating the lawn business, but Joey Pow easily dispatches them. If there’s tension here, it derives from the unremitting good news: While the reader may worry that Arnold’s a rip-off artist, Joey Pow will blow his fight, or (at the very least) the parents will go ballistic once clued in—all ends refreshingly well. The most complicated parts of this breezy affair are the chapter titles, which seem lifted from an officious, tenure-track academician’s economics text. Capital! (Fiction. 9-12)

Pub Date: June 12, 2007

ISBN: 978-0-385-74686-1

Page Count: 96

Publisher: Wendy Lamb/Random

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2007

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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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