THE HOUSE OF WINGS

From the beginning Sammy's first day with his Ohio grandfather is experienced not as a more or less skillfully constructed fiction but as a vibrant reality that happens as we read. The eighth and last child of tired parents, the ten-year-old is left abruptly in the wild-looking old man's run-down house full of uncaged birds (an owl, a parrot, several geese) while his parents go on to find a job and get settled in Detroit. Though the boy's first outraged reaction is to run away, his grandfather immediately involves him in capturing and then caring for a hurt crane they encounter in a clearing. The old man bluntly accepts the boy from the start and as bluntly demands his help in projects Sammy would otherwise not dare to attempt — all the while following his own train of thought, ignoring Sammy's self-conscious conversation, and hearing only those questions he wishes to answer. Though he "can't even get some of my own children straight in my mind," he tells Sammy that "every one of them birds that stayed with me is more real to me than the people I've known." After the two have shared a can of cold spaghetti for supper, the dismaying discovery that the crane is blind, and joyful relief when the bird eats and revives, Sammy has decided that he wants his grand-father to know him the way he knows his birds. By the end we too have come to know the touchingly but unsentimentally rendered Sammy and the marvelous old man.

Pub Date: April 27, 1972

ISBN: 0140315233

Page Count: 148

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: April 18, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 1972

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

Little Blue Truck keeps on truckin’—but not without some backfires.

LITTLE BLUE TRUCK'S VALENTINE

Little Blue Truck feels, well, blue when he delivers valentine after valentine but receives nary a one.

His bed overflowing with cards, Blue sets out to deliver a yellow card with purple polka dots and a shiny purple heart to Hen, one with a shiny fuchsia heart to Pig, a big, shiny, red heart-shaped card to Horse, and so on. With each delivery there is an exchange of Beeps from Blue and the appropriate animal sounds from his friends, Blue’s Beeps always set in blue and the animal’s vocalization in a color that matches the card it receives. But as Blue heads home, his deliveries complete, his headlight eyes are sad and his front bumper droops ever so slightly. Blue is therefore surprised (but readers may not be) when he pulls into his garage to be greeted by all his friends with a shiny blue valentine just for him. In this, Blue’s seventh outing, it’s not just the sturdy protagonist that seems to be wilting. Schertle’s verse, usually reliable, stumbles more than once; stanzas such as “But Valentine’s Day / didn’t seem much fun / when he didn’t get cards / from anyone” will cause hitches during read-alouds. The illustrations, done by Joseph in the style of original series collaborator Jill McElmurry, are pleasant enough, but his compositions often feel stiff and forced.

Little Blue Truck keeps on truckin’—but not without some backfires. (Board book. 1-4)

Pub Date: Dec. 8, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-358-27244-1

Page Count: 20

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: Jan. 19, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2021

Did you like this book?

Readers can still rely on this series to bring laughs.

WRECKING BALL

From the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series , Vol. 14

The Heffley family’s house undergoes a disastrous attempt at home improvement.

When Great Aunt Reba dies, she leaves some money to the family. Greg’s mom calls a family meeting to determine what to do with their share, proposing home improvements and then overruling the family’s cartoonish wish lists and instead pushing for an addition to the kitchen. Before bringing in the construction crew, the Heffleys attempt to do minor maintenance and repairs themselves—during which Greg fails at the work in various slapstick scenes. Once the professionals are brought in, the problems keep getting worse: angry neighbors, terrifying problems in walls, and—most serious—civil permitting issues that put the kibosh on what work’s been done. Left with only enough inheritance to patch and repair the exterior of the house—and with the school’s dismal standardized test scores as a final straw—Greg’s mom steers the family toward moving, opening up house-hunting and house-selling storylines (and devastating loyal Rowley, who doesn’t want to lose his best friend). While Greg’s positive about the move, he’s not completely uncaring about Rowley’s action. (And of course, Greg himself is not as unaffected as he wishes.) The gags include effectively placed callbacks to seemingly incidental events (the “stress lizard” brought in on testing day is particularly funny) and a lampoon of after-school-special–style problem books. Just when it seems that the Heffleys really will move, a new sequence of chaotic trouble and property destruction heralds a return to the status quo. Whew.

Readers can still rely on this series to bring laughs. (Graphic/fiction hybrid. 8-12)

Pub Date: Nov. 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4197-3903-3

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Amulet/Abrams

Review Posted Online: Nov. 19, 2019

Did you like this book?

more