Terrific appetizer for discussion.

READ REVIEW

GIRLS STANDING ON LAWNS

This trim, clothbound first in a series from Kalman and Handler for the Museum of Modern Art offers an intriguing painting-and-prose response to a selection of photographs of, as the title indicates, girls and young women standing on lawns.

The 42 black-and-white photographs presented here are unremarkable at first glance. Gifts to the museum from a handful of donors, including Kalman, they represent the work of mostly amateur photographers from 1910 to 1955. Handler’s droll, laconic prose poem complements the one-dimensional nature of these images; a few words accompanying each invite readers to consider that someone in particular is standing in each photograph: “Keep track of this. / You will not remember / every place you have stood.” The combination of lawns, “girls” and posing for the camera seems to speak of a particular place, demographic and time. All are affecting, artless and sometimes poignant in their anonymity, but only two depict subjects who are not white: a young black girl standing with the only boy in these images, perhaps her younger brother; a young black woman in another. Kalman reinterprets 10 images in her energetic and inimitable fauve-esque palette; the unique charm of her paintings calls attention to the way the camera captures both what is intended and…something else. The MoMA’s curator of photography offers a note on a brief history of home photography and provides a description (“vernacular photography”) for the genre.

Terrific appetizer for discussion. (Poetry. 8 & up)

Pub Date: May 6, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-87070-908-1

Page Count: 64

Publisher: The Museum of Modern Art

Review Posted Online: March 31, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2014

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Ordinary kids in an extraordinary setting: still a recipe for bright achievements and belly laughs.

WAYSIDE SCHOOL BENEATH THE CLOUD OF DOOM

Rejoice! 25 years later, Wayside School is still in session, and the children in Mrs. Jewls’ 30th-floor classroom haven’t changed a bit.

The surreal yet oddly educational nature of their misadventures hasn’t either. There are out-and-out rib ticklers, such as a spelling lesson featuring made-up words and a determined class effort to collect 1 million nail clippings. Additionally, mean queen Kathy steps through a mirror that turns her weirdly nice and she discovers that she likes it, a four-way friendship survives a dumpster dive after lost homework, and Mrs. Jewls makes sure that a long-threatened “Ultimate Test” allows every student to show off a special talent. Episodic though the 30 new chapters are, there are continuing elements that bind them—even to previous outings, such as the note to an elusive teacher Calvin has been carrying since Sideways Stories From Wayside School (1978) and finally delivers. Add to that plenty of deadpan dialogue (“Arithmetic makes my brain numb,” complains Dameon. “That’s why they’re called ‘numb-ers,’ ” explains D.J.) and a wild storm from the titular cloud that shuffles the school’s contents “like a deck of cards,” and Sachar once again dishes up a confection as scrambled and delicious as lunch lady Miss Mush’s improvised “Rainbow Stew.” Diversity is primarily conveyed in the illustrations.

Ordinary kids in an extraordinary setting: still a recipe for bright achievements and belly laughs. (Fiction. 9-11)

Pub Date: March 3, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-296538-7

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Sept. 29, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2019

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The inevitable go-to for Percy’s legions of fans who want the stories behind his stories.

PERCY JACKSON'S GREEK GODS

Percy Jackson takes a break from adventuring to serve up the Greek gods like flapjacks at a church breakfast.

Percy is on form as he debriefs readers concerning Chaos, Gaea, Ouranos and Pontus, Dionysus, Ariadne and Persephone, all in his dude’s patter: “He’d forgotten how beautiful Gaea could be when she wasn’t all yelling up in his face.” Here they are, all 12 Olympians, plus many various offspring and associates: the gold standard of dysfunctional families, whom Percy plays like a lute, sometimes lyrically, sometimes with a more sardonic air. Percy’s gift, which is no great secret, is to breathe new life into the gods. Closest attention is paid to the Olympians, but Riordan has a sure touch when it comes to fitting much into a small space—as does Rocco’s artwork, which smokes and writhes on the page as if hit by lightning—so readers will also meet Makaria, “goddess of blessed peaceful deaths,” and the Theban Teiresias, who accidentally sees Athena bathing. She blinds him but also gives him the ability to understand the language of birds. The atmosphere crackles and then dissolves, again and again: “He could even send the Furies after living people if they committed a truly horrific crime—like killing a family member, desecrating a temple, or singing Journey songs on karaoke night.”

The inevitable go-to for Percy’s legions of fans who want the stories behind his stories. (Mythology. 10-14)

Pub Date: Aug. 19, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4231-8364-8

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion

Review Posted Online: June 29, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2014

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