Youngsters who love anything equine should enjoy this volume filled with ample horse details and lore wrapped in light humor.

Midway Dreams

An ambitious pony in Kentucky imagines a future filled with possibilities in this debut children’s book that mixes dreams, facts, and motivational messages.

Crafted as “edutainment” and primarily for horse fans, this work by Shew and Orttenburger—a fourth-grade teacher—revolves around a colt named Midway, who relates equine dreams that take him “traveling on adventures all over the world.” He imagines winning the Triple Crown, becoming a rodeo star, pulling a milk cart in Scotland, running with wild mustangs in the Grand Canyon, marching in the Christmas parade in New York as a police horse, and more. The chapters, one page in length, consist of text appropriate for readers ages 8 to 12. The work delivers Midway’s narrative followed by brief facts arranged as a bullet-point list related to that day’s dream. When the pony fantasizes about taking part in a rodeo on July Fourth, for example, the authors offer info-bits about bull riding, Western music, and the origin of the holiday. Midway realizes “a dream come true” when he is cast in a movie as the yearling version of champion thoroughbred Secretariat, and the fact list offers background on that Triple Crown winner and names famous “Hollywood” horses. Payst’s cartoon-style illustrations are arranged a bit haphazardly, some before the pertinent chapter, others after. They are lively and offer a witty touch despite an awkward, rubbery-looking Midway who bears little resemblance to anything found in nature. Each clearly written chapter introduces a different kind of horse, equine competition, event, or job. Mixed-breed Midway refuses to see limitations: if he puts his mind to it, he thinks, he could even be an award-winning Palomino. (“A dream can become a desired goal or purpose, like becoming the fastest horse in the world or a rodeo star,” the authors explain.) The book’s overall lesson for success: “Set goals and work hard.” Which of Midway’s dreams will be realized may come later—this is the first work in an intended series.

Youngsters who love anything equine should enjoy this volume filled with ample horse details and lore wrapped in light humor.

Pub Date: April 25, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4908-0295-4

Page Count: 36

Publisher: Westbow Press

Review Posted Online: Sept. 6, 2016

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Good Guys and Bad get just deserts in the end, and Stanley gets plenty of opportunities to display pluck and valor in this...


Sentenced to a brutal juvenile detention camp for a crime he didn't commit, a wimpy teenager turns four generations of bad family luck around in this sunburnt tale of courage, obsession, and buried treasure from Sachar (Wayside School Gets a Little Stranger, 1995, etc.).

Driven mad by the murder of her black beau, a schoolteacher turns on the once-friendly, verdant town of Green Lake, Texas, becomes feared bandit Kissin' Kate Barlow, and dies, laughing, without revealing where she buried her stash. A century of rainless years later, lake and town are memories—but, with the involuntary help of gangs of juvenile offenders, the last descendant of the last residents is still digging. Enter Stanley Yelnats IV, great-grandson of one of Kissin' Kate's victims and the latest to fall to the family curse of being in the wrong place at the wrong time; under the direction of The Warden, a woman with rattlesnake venom polish on her long nails, Stanley and each of his fellow inmates dig a hole a day in the rock-hard lake bed. Weeks of punishing labor later, Stanley digs up a clue, but is canny enough to conceal the information of which hole it came from. Through flashbacks, Sachar weaves a complex net of hidden relationships and well-timed revelations as he puts his slightly larger-than-life characters under a sun so punishing that readers will be reaching for water bottles.

Good Guys and Bad get just deserts in the end, and Stanley gets plenty of opportunities to display pluck and valor in this rugged, engrossing adventure. (Fiction. 9-13)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1998

ISBN: 978-0-374-33265-5

Page Count: 233

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2000

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A guidebook for taking action against racism.

The clear title and bold, colorful illustrations will immediately draw attention to this book, designed to guide each reader on a personal journey to work to dismantle racism. In the author’s note, Jewell begins with explanations about word choice, including the use of the terms “folx,” because it is gender neutral, and “global majority,” noting that marginalized communities of color are actually the majority in the world. She also chooses to capitalize Black, Brown, and Indigenous as a way of centering these communities’ voices; "white" is not capitalized. Organized in four sections—identity, history, taking action, and working in solidarity—each chapter builds on the lessons of the previous section. Underlined words are defined in the glossary, but Jewell unpacks concepts around race in an accessible way, bringing attention to common misunderstandings. Activities are included at the end of each chapter; they are effective, prompting both self-reflection and action steps from readers. The activities are designed to not be written inside the actual book; instead Jewell invites readers to find a special notebook and favorite pen and use that throughout. Combining the disruption of common fallacies, spotlights on change makers, the author’s personal reflections, and a call to action, this powerful book has something for all young people no matter what stage they are at in terms of awareness or activism.

Essential. (author’s note, further reading, glossary, select bibliography) (Nonfiction. 10-18)

Pub Date: Jan. 7, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-7112-4521-1

Page Count: 160

Publisher: Frances Lincoln

Review Posted Online: Sept. 15, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2019

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