THE TURNABOUT SHOP

Orphaned and grieving, Livvy is dismayed when her dying mother Althea's wish leaves her in the care of a woman she's never heard of. Who is this Jessie Barnes? An old college roommate, Livvy learns—a moth next to the vivid butterfly that was Althea—and a quiet, sensible woman who runs an antiques shop with her own mother, Ivy. Livvy also learns that Jessie hasn't known about Althea's wish much longer than she has. Rodowsky (Hannah in Between, 1994, etc.) gives Livvy plenty of support adapting to her new home, new town, and new fifth grade: Lu, a decidedly un-shy classmate; Charlie Farley, a neighbor with a gift for offhanded pearls of wisdom; and patient, low-key Jessie Barnes, who seems almost colorless next to her loving, boisterous parents, siblings, nieces, and nephews. Although Livvy occasionally bursts out in what Althea always called ``wanton words,'' her grief and anger are relatively restrained, and in time she grasps just how hard it was for risk-shy Jessie to accept her new responsibilities. By the end, the two have found ways to reach one another, and when the shop burns down, it's Livvy's turn to help Jessie through a loss. The author never pontificates, readers will take to the immensely likable cast, and Jessie's and Althea's characters burst forth from Livvy's narration as vividly as her own. (Fiction. 9-11)

Pub Date: March 27, 1998

ISBN: 0-374-37889-4

Page Count: 135

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 1998

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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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However the compelling fitness of theme and event and the apt but unexpected imagery (the opening sentences compare the...

TUCK EVERLASTING

At a time when death has become an acceptable, even voguish subject in children's fiction, Natalie Babbitt comes through with a stylistic gem about living forever. 

Protected Winnie, the ten-year-old heroine, is not immortal, but when she comes upon young Jesse Tuck drinking from a secret spring in her parents' woods, she finds herself involved with a family who, having innocently drunk the same water some 87 years earlier, haven't aged a moment since. Though the mood is delicate, there is no lack of action, with the Tucks (previously suspected of witchcraft) now pursued for kidnapping Winnie; Mae Tuck, the middle aged mother, striking and killing a stranger who is onto their secret and would sell the water; and Winnie taking Mae's place in prison so that the Tucks can get away before she is hanged from the neck until....? Though Babbitt makes the family a sad one, most of their reasons for discontent are circumstantial and there isn't a great deal of wisdom to be gleaned from their fate or Winnie's decision not to share it. 

However the compelling fitness of theme and event and the apt but unexpected imagery (the opening sentences compare the first week in August when this takes place to "the highest seat of a Ferris wheel when it pauses in its turning") help to justify the extravagant early assertion that had the secret about to be revealed been known at the time of the action, the very earth "would have trembled on its axis like a beetle on a pin." (Fantasy. 9-11)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 1975

ISBN: 0312369816

Page Count: 164

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: April 13, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 1975

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