ZINK

Basing her novel on a one-page story written by an 11-year-old child shortly before her death from leukemia, Bennett (Life in the Fat Lane, 1998, etc.) creates a tale of courage personified. A herd of miniature zebras appears before Becky Zaslow on the day she is diagnosed with childhood cancer—leukemia. During times of painful treatment, the zebras take Becky away to Africa and the Serengeti where they fight off tough predators, cross the treacherous crocodile-filled Mara River, and tell tales about Zink, a mythological polka-dotted zebra. Becky’s secret journal outlines the course of each treatment and is interspersed with the tale of these playful zebras; they help her to remain courageous despite her fears. The zebras, not medical professionals, prepare Becky for death when her bone marrow transplant fails and she succumbs to a respiratory infection. As one of the zebras, Ice Z, tells her, “True courage is admitting we’re afraid and fighting the predators anyway.” After her death, Becky, as Zink, joins the zebra herd. With three pages of acknowledgments and a lengthy afterword, readers may gain more than they need to know about the true aspects of this poignant story, but the embellishments don’t interfere with the raw emotions explored, or the power of Becky’s journey as she learns to run with the herd. (glossary) (Fiction 11-13)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-385-32669-6

Page Count: 222

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 1999

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THE QUILTMAKER'S GIFT

A sentimental tale overwhelmed by busy illustrations and rampant pedantry. A gifted quiltmaker who makes outstanding quilts never sells her wares, but gives them away to the poor. A greedy king so loves presents that he has two birthdays a year, and commands everyone in the kingdom to give him gifts. Everyone brings presents till the castle overflows; the king, still unhappy, locates the quiltmaker and directs her to make him a quilt. When she refuses he tries to feed her to a hungry bear, then to leave her on a tiny island, but each time the quiltmaker’s kindness results in her rescue. At last, the king agrees to a bargain; he will give away his many things, and the quiltmaker will sew him a quilt. He is soon poor, but happier than he’s ever been, and she fulfills her end of the bargain; they remain partners forever after, with her sewing the quilts and him giving them away. The illustrations are elaborate, filled with clues to quilt names. A note points to the 250 different quilt names hidden in the picture on the inside of the book jacket. (Picture book. 6-10)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 1999

ISBN: 1-57025-199-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 1999

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THE MAGIC SCHOOL BUS EXPLORES THE SENSES

The way-off-road vehicle (The Magic School Bus and the Electric Field, 1997, etc.) tours the ears, eyes, nose, and skin when the assistant principal, Mr. Wilde, accidentally shrinks the school bus and the children on board, commandeering it to deliver a message to Ms. Frizzle. The vehicle plunges into the eye of a police officer, where the students explore the pupil, the cornea, the retina, and the optic nerve leading to the brain. Then it’s on to other senses, via the ear of a small child, the nose of a dog, and the tongue of the Friz herself. Sidebars and captions add to the blizzard of information here; with a combination of plot, details, and jokes, the trip is anything but dull. The facts will certainly entice readers to learn more about the ways living creatures perceive the world. (Picture book. 6-9)

Pub Date: March 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-590-44697-5

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 1999

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