A family-friendly combination of memoir and historical, Christian fiction, light on plot but with plenty of action and ’50s...

SINISTER SUMMER

CARS, CRUISERS, AND CLOSE CALLS

Set against the backdrop of ’50s America, two childhood friends find one adventure after another during the most exciting and dangerous summer of their lives.

This second installment of Hartnell’s the Adventures of Pete and Carol Ann series revisits 11-year-old heroes Pete and Carol Ann in Southern California circa 1955. The story, and their summer, begins ominously as Carol Ann crashes a go-cart while Pete and their other friends look on. Neither child is aware this will be the least exciting thing to happen to them in the coming months; a summer filled with surfing lessons, car accidents, adventurous tales from relatives on Route 66, and regular run-ins with the notorious Cruisers—a group of jelly-rolled teens always in the background, looking for trouble. The book is part memoir, and Hartnell paints a historically accurate picture of growing up in the ’50s, giving vivid accounts of the time by littering the story with period-specific set pieces and slang. Most of these are integrated effectively, but some descriptions become repetitive, even for younger readers, and too often characters parrot information unnecessarily. The book’s strength is its characters, from the hilarious antics of the children’s dog, to the adversarial dynamic between Pete’s spoiled sister and Carol Ann. These interactions fill the gaps from event to event, and make up for the story’s lack of overarching plot. Combining the engaging characters with the author’s commitment to consistently raising the stakes (along with plenty of foreshadowing), the book makes for a never-boring, all-ages read. Strong Christian overtones are also present, but they grow subtly and organically, strengthening as the characters need them.

A family-friendly combination of memoir and historical, Christian fiction, light on plot but with plenty of action and ’50s Americana.

Pub Date: June 1, 2010

ISBN: 978-1936119202

Page Count: 159

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: Sept. 17, 2010

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More gift book than storybook, this is a meaningful addition to nursery bookshelves

MAYBE

A young child explores the unlimited potential inherent in all humans.

“Have you ever wondered why you are here?” asks the second-person narration. There is no one like you. Maybe you’re here to make a difference with your uniqueness; maybe you will speak for those who can’t or use your gifts to shine a light into the darkness. The no-frills, unrhymed narrative encourages readers to follow their hearts and tap into their limitless potential to be anything and do anything. The precisely inked and colored artwork plays with perspective from the first double-page spread, in which the child contemplates a mountain (or maybe an iceberg) in their hands. Later, they stand on a ladder to place white spots on tall, red mushrooms. The oversized flora and fauna seem to symbolize the presumptively insurmountable, reinforcing the book’s message that anything is possible. This quiet read, with its sophisticated central question, encourages children to reach for their untapped potential while reminding them it won’t be easy—they will make messes and mistakes—but the magic within can help overcome falls and failures. It’s unlikely that members of the intended audience have begun to wonder about their life’s purpose, but this life-affirming mood piece has honorable intentions. The child, accompanied by an adorable piglet and sporting overalls and a bird-beaked cap made of leaves, presents white.

More gift book than storybook, this is a meaningful addition to nursery bookshelves . (Picture book. 2-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 15, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-946873-75-0

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Compendium

Review Posted Online: May 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2019

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GOLDILOCKS AND THE THREE BEARS

With the same delightfully irreverent spirit that he brought to his retelling of "Little Red Riding Hood" (1987), Marshall enlivens another favorite. Although completely retold with his usual pungent wit and contemporary touches ("I don't mind if I do," says Goldilocks, as she tries out porridge, chair, and bed), Marshall retains the stories well-loved pattern, including Goldilocks escaping through the window (whereupon Baby Bear inquires, "Who was that little girl?"). The illustrations are fraught with delicious humor and detail: books that are stacked everywhere around the rather cluttered house, including some used in lieu of a missing leg for Papa Bear's chair; comically exaggerated beds—much too high at the head and the foot; and Baby Bear's wonderfully messy room, which certainly brings the story into the 20th century. Like its predecessor, perfect for several uses, from picture-book hour to beginning reading.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1988

ISBN: 0140563660

Page Count: 36

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: Oct. 26, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 1988

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