MY BROTHER HAS AIDS

Lacy Mullins, 13, is a talented swimmer whose brother has AIDS. Although Jack hasn't lived at home since he left for college when Lacy was five, the siblings are close. Whenever he came to visit, he brought her something special, and they corresponded faithfully. Lacy knew Jack was gay and accepted it. But now Jack wants to move back home to spend his last months with his family. His lover, Lincoln, has already died from AIDS, and Jack is sick and lonely. Lacy is glad to have Jack at home, but his sickness is painful for him and his family. Lacy must also, at her parents' request, keep Jack's illness a secret, and that proves too much for her to handle. When she finally tells people, however, they are not all supportive. Even Lacy's best friend, Emma, must overcome her initial fear of AIDS before she and Lacy can continue their close friendship. And Lacy finds that, for the first time in her life, she can't swim. She drops from the team as Jack's condition worsens. When he dies, she lets his tortured body go but feels that he is still with her. She returns to swimming with a new resolve: Now she is swimming for Jack, too. Although oddly distanced at times, newcomer Davis's story is sensitive and informative. Jack is never fully developed as a character, but Lacy will speak to readers who have experience with AIDS patients, fears about the virus, or just want straight answers. (Fiction. 9-13)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 1994

ISBN: 0-689-31922-3

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Atheneum

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 1994

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The poem/novel ends with only a trace of hope; there are no pat endings, but a glimpse of beauty wrought from brutal reality.

OUT OF THE DUST

Billie Jo tells of her life in Oklahoma during the Dust Bowl: Her mother dies after a gruesome accident caused by her father's leaving a bucket of kerosene near the stove; Billie Jo is partially responsible—fully responsible in the eyes of the community—and sustains injuries that seem to bring to a halt her dreams of playing the piano.

Finding a way through her grief is not made easier by her taciturn father, who went on a drinking binge while Billie Joe's mother, not yet dead, begged for water. Told in free-verse poetry of dated entries that span the winter of 1934 to the winter of 1935, this is an unremittingly bleak portrait of one corner of Depression-era life. In Billie Jo, the only character who comes to life, Hesse (The Music of Dolphins, 1996, etc.) presents a hale and determined heroine who confronts unrelenting misery and begins to transcend it.

The poem/novel ends with only a trace of hope; there are no pat endings, but a glimpse of beauty wrought from brutal reality. (Fiction. 9-12)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 1997

ISBN: 978-0-590-36080-7

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 1997

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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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