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

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

RALPH TELLS A STORY

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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CINDERELLA

This companion piece to the other fairy tales Marcia Brown has interpreted (see Puss In Boots, 1952, p. 548 and others) has the smoothness of a good translation and a unique charm to her feathery light pictures. The pictures have been done in sunset colors and the spreads on each page as they illustrate the story have the cumulative effect of soft cloud banks. Gentle.

Pub Date: June 15, 1954

ISBN: 0684126761

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Scribner

Review Posted Online: Oct. 26, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1954

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