MR. WELLINGTON

Children’s literature abounds with both happy and sad stories about children and their pets. Occasionally, the pet is a wild animal that can’t and won’t be kept; think of the classic The Yearling. It is this vein that the acclaimed playwright Rabe, noted for his Vietnam-era dramas, mines in a slim novella that reads as though it were based on an actual incident. A young squirrel is separated from his family in the woods. Jonathan, a middle schooler bicycling home from soccer practice, picks him up in his sneaker and tries to keep him. The story unfolds from the perspective of each, but the squirrel’s narrative never crosses into anthropomorphism: He is frightened and lonely and reacts very strongly to the strange and threatening smells of his new environment. Realizing that neither he nor his older brother who is home from college has all the answers, Jonathan turns to the Internet and contacts a woman who specializes in wildlife rescues. Taken as a whole, the tale is an object lesson presented with all the correct answers in an engaging narrative. Parker’s final interior art not seen. (Fiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: April 1, 2009

ISBN: 978-1-59643-328-1

Page Count: 96

Publisher: Neal Porter/Roaring Brook

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2009

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ONE CRAZY SUMMER

A flight from New York to Oakland, Calif., to spend the summer of 1968 with the mother who abandoned Delphine and her two sisters was the easy part. Once there, the negative things their grandmother had said about their mother, Cecile, seem true: She is uninterested in her daughters and secretive about her work and the mysterious men in black berets who visit. The sisters are sent off to a Black Panther day camp, where Delphine finds herself skeptical of the worldview of the militants while making the best of their situation. Delphine is the pitch-perfect older sister, wise beyond her years, an expert at handling her siblings: “Just like I know how to lift my sisters up, I also knew how to needle them just right.” Each girl has a distinct response to her motherless state, and Williams-Garcia provides details that make each characterization crystal clear. The depiction of the time is well done, and while the girls are caught up in the difficulties of adults, their resilience is celebrated and energetically told with writing that snaps off the page. (Historical fiction. 9-12)

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2010

ISBN: 978-0-06-076088-5

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Amistad/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2010

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With young readers diagnosed with anxiety in ever increasing numbers, this book offers a necessary mirror to many.

GUTS

Young Raina is 9 when she throws up for the first time that she remembers, due to a stomach bug. Even a year later, when she is in fifth grade, she fears getting sick.

Raina begins having regular stomachaches that keep her home from school. She worries about sharing food with her friends and eating certain kinds of foods, afraid of getting sick or food poisoning. Raina’s mother enrolls her in therapy. At first Raina isn’t sure about seeing a therapist, but over time she develops healthy coping mechanisms to deal with her stress and anxiety. Her therapist helps her learn to ground herself and relax, and in turn she teaches her classmates for a school project. Amping up the green, wavy lines to evoke Raina’s nausea, Telgemeier brilliantly produces extremely accurate visual representations of stress and anxiety. Thought bubbles surround Raina in some panels, crowding her with anxious “what if”s, while in others her negative self-talk appears to be literally crushing her. Even as she copes with anxiety disorder and what is eventually diagnosed as mild irritable bowel syndrome, she experiences the typical stresses of school life, going from cheer to panic in the blink of an eye. Raina is white, and her classmates are diverse; one best friend is Korean American.

With young readers diagnosed with anxiety in ever increasing numbers, this book offers a necessary mirror to many. (Graphic memoir. 8-12)

Pub Date: Sept. 17, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-545-85251-7

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Graphix/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: May 12, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2019

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