SCOUT

Her mother lost to cancer, 11-year-old Cecelia, aka “Scout,” withstands a fresh trauma that triggers familial healing in this novel-in-verse. Cecilia befriends Redbud, a neglected boy bouncing between a foster institution and an impoverished home. As the pair bonds, Redbud cautiously reveals his wounded life. Cecelia’s fear-tinged fascination with Redbud’s abusive father prompts her to question her own father’s gentle but emotionally neglectful parenting. Only after Cecelia witnesses the hit-and-run accident that sends Redbud to the hospital does her father wake to his family’s needs. Ford takes on formidable stylistic challenges in this first novel: Rendering a first-person, mainly present-tense narrative as verse might foil a seasoned author. Here, the narrative voice weaves, not entirely seamlessly, between the lyrical and the mundane, incorporating both Cecelia’s flat tone and the deft phrasing of the surer, authorial poet. The inclusion of several of Cecelia’s own poems exacerbates the narrative irresolution: How can the author of typically childish lines also deliver the nuanced, elegantly compressed verse of the novel at large? Nonetheless, Ford shows considerable skill in distilling the messy complexity of grief and emotional renewal in poetry that often sings. (Fiction. 9-12)

Pub Date: March 14, 2006

ISBN: 0-385-73234-1

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2006

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DIARY OF A WIMPY KID

A NOVEL IN CARTOONS

From the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series , Vol. 1

First volume of a planned three, this edited version of an ongoing online serial records a middle-school everykid’s triumphs and (more often) tribulations through the course of a school year. Largely through his own fault, mishaps seem to plague Greg at every turn, from the minor freak-outs of finding himself permanently seated in class between two pierced stoners and then being saddled with his mom for a substitute teacher, to being forced to wrestle in gym with a weird classmate who has invited him to view his “secret freckle.” Presented in a mix of legible “hand-lettered” text and lots of simple cartoon illustrations with the punch lines often in dialogue balloons, Greg’s escapades, unwavering self-interest and sardonic commentary are a hoot and a half—certain to elicit both gales of giggles and winces of sympathy (not to mention recognition) from young readers. (Fiction. 9-11)

Pub Date: April 1, 2007

ISBN: 0-8109-9313-9

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Amulet/Abrams

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2007

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  • Newbery Honor Book

BECAUSE OF WINN-DIXIE

A 10-year old girl learns to adjust to a strange town, makes some fascinating friends, and fills the empty space in her heart thanks to a big old stray dog in this lyrical, moving, and enchanting book by a fresh new voice. India Opal’s mama left when she was only three, and her father, “the preacher,” is absorbed in his own loss and in the work of his new ministry at the Open-Arms Baptist Church of Naomi [Florida]. Enter Winn-Dixie, a dog who “looked like a big piece of old brown carpet that had been left out in the rain.” But, this dog had a grin “so big that it made him sneeze.” And, as Opal says, “It’s hard not to immediately fall in love with a dog who has a good sense of humor.” Because of Winn-Dixie, Opal meets Miss Franny Block, an elderly lady whose papa built her a library of her own when she was just a little girl and she’s been the librarian ever since. Then, there’s nearly blind Gloria Dump, who hangs the empty bottle wreckage of her past from the mistake tree in her back yard. And, Otis, oh yes, Otis, whose music charms the gerbils, rabbits, snakes and lizards he’s let out of their cages in the pet store. Brush strokes of magical realism elevate this beyond a simple story of friendship to a well-crafted tale of community and fellowship, of sweetness, sorrow and hope. And, it’s funny, too. A real gem. (Fiction. 9-12)

Pub Date: March 1, 2000

ISBN: 0-7636-0776-2

Page Count: 182

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2000

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