COME A STRANGER

In another fine novel about Crisfield, Md., Voigt tells of the growing up of Mina Smiths, fondly remembered as the girl who brilliantly defended Dicey Tillerman when the English teacher accused her of plagiarism (in Dicey's Song), and for her friendship with Tamer Shipp (of The Runner). Mina is a vibrant protagonist: super-bright, self-assured, likable. At 11, she's a scholarship student and the only black in a summer ballet program for gifted students. Joyfully, she expands her horizons in classical music, multiple friendships, and ballet; yet when she returns the next year, she is awkwardly gangly from a growth spurt; moreover, her developing social consciousness has made her so much less compliant that she's sent home, feeling all the uneasiness of precarious black/white interaction. Meeting Tamer, her father's summer replacement as minister at the local church, she finds a friend with intelligence and a questing spirit to match her own. Mina has always had a relationship of mutual confidence and respect with her parents; now Tamer, precious yet unattainable, becomes the person for whom she feels the warmest regard. Meanwhile, as years pass and schoolgirl crush becomes more mature love, Mina hears the old story about Bullet Tillerman, lost in Vietnam, meets Dicey, and brings old Mrs. Tillerman and Tamer together in a moving scene where each unexpectedly helps the other to make peace with the past. Tamer moves far away, and at the story's close Mina is lucky enough to meet a gifted young man her own age. No brief synopsis can do justice to the novel's rich texture: the warm, complex Smiths family, the carefully wrought members of the close-knit community where they live, the humorous and serious give and take, the gradual rise of Mina's awareness, the fundamentally generous spirit. Not a sequel but a parallel narrative that Voigt's fans will be eager to read; it should bring her new fans as well.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1986

ISBN: 068980444X

Page Count: 262

Publisher: Atheneum

Review Posted Online: Oct. 27, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 1986

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A bit of envelope-pushing freshens up the formula.

HOCUS POCUS AND THE ALL-NEW SEQUEL

In honor of its 25th anniversary, a Disney Halloween horror/comedy film gets a sequel to go with its original novelization.

Three Salem witches hanged in 1693 for stealing a child’s life force are revived in 1993 when 16-year-old new kid Max completes a spell by lighting a magical candle (which has to be kindled by a virgin to work). Max and dazzling, popular classmate Allison have to keep said witches at bay until dawn to save all of the local children from a similar fate. Fast-forward to 2018: Poppy, daughter of Max and Allison, inadvertently works a spell that sends her parents and an aunt to hell in exchange for the gleeful witches. With help from her best friend, Travis, and classmate Isabella, on whom she has a major crush, Poppy has only hours to keep the weird sisters from working more evil. The witches, each daffier than the last, supply most of the comedy as well as plenty of menace but end up back in the infernal regions. There’s also a talking cat, a talking dog, a gaggle of costumed heroines, and an oblique reference to a certain beloved Halloween movie. Traditional Disney wholesomeness is spiced, not soured, by occasional innuendo and a big twist in the sequel. Poppy and her family are white, while Travis and Isabella are both African-American.

A bit of envelope-pushing freshens up the formula. (Fantasy. 10-15)

Pub Date: July 10, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-368-02003-9

Page Count: 528

Publisher: Freeform/Disney

Review Posted Online: June 17, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2018

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HATCHET

A prototypical survival story: after an airplane crash, a 13-year-old city boy spends two months alone in the Canadian wilderness. In transit between his divorcing parents, Brian is the plane's only passenger. After casually showing him how to steer, the pilot has a heart attack and dies. In a breathtaking sequence, Brian maneuvers the plane for hours while he tries to think what to do, at last crashing as gently and levelly as he can manage into a lake. The plane sinks; all he has left is a hatchet, attached to his belt. His injuries prove painful but not fundamental. In time, he builds a shelter, experiments with berries, finds turtle eggs, starts a fire, makes a bow and arrow to catch fish and birds, and makes peace with the larger wildlife. He also battles despair and emerges more patient, prepared to learn from his mistakes—when a rogue moose attacks him and a fierce storm reminds him of his mortality, he's prepared to make repairs with philosophical persistence. His mixed feelings surprise him when the plane finally surfaces so that he can retrieve the survival pack; and then he's rescued. Plausible, taut, this is a spellbinding account. Paulsen's staccato, repetitive style conveys Brian's stress; his combination of third-person narrative with Brian's interior monologue pulls the reader into the story. Brian's angst over a terrible secret—he's seen his mother with another man—is undeveloped and doesn't contribute much, except as one item from his previous life that he sees in better perspective, as a result of his experience. High interest, not hard to read. A winner.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1987

ISBN: 1416925082

Page Count: -

Publisher: Bradbury

Review Posted Online: Oct. 18, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 1987

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