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UNDER A DIFFERENT SKY

In this badly written novel from Savage (A Stranger Calls Me Home, 1992, etc.), characters frequently reveal their attempts at ``art''- -dressage, painting, photography—to others, along with a string of clichÇs about the costs of following their hearts (or not) to fulfillment. Ben's mother can barely make ends meet as a cashier; his dreamer father's business schemes always fail; drunken older brother Tom has just lost his job. During these hard times the family relies on the rent the adjacent boarding school pays to use some farm land. Ben, 17, is torn between his mother's need for stability and his father's starry- eyed encouragement. He doesn't know whether to risk time, money, and energy on his secret dream of becoming a dressage champion, or to sell his beloved horse, Galaxy, for the family good and take a job in an auto repair shop. The novel takes a melodramatic turn when Ben meets Lara, a wealthy but troubled student at the boarding school, who is alienated from her adoptive family. After pages and pages of angry, then tender exchanges, Ben and Lara fall in love. Hackneyed elements make this story long and tired: The mystical bond between Galaxy and Ben (rendered in purple prose); a greedy school administration; Lara's bad-girl tantrums; her wealthy, uncaring parents. A pedestrian plot, dearth of credible adults, hysterical tone, and obvious themes make this novel unbelievable at its best and exhausting at its worst. (Fiction. 12+)

Pub Date: April 1, 1997

ISBN: 0-395-77395-4

Page Count: 276

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 1997

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SMILE

Telgemeier has created an utterly charming graphic memoir of tooth trauma, first crushes and fickle friends, sweetly reminiscent of Judy Blume’s work. One night, Raina trips and falls after a Girl Scout meeting, knocking out her two front teeth. This leads to years of painful surgeries, braces, agonizing root canals and other oral atrocities. Her friends offer little solace through this trying ordeal, spending more of their time teasing than comforting her. After years of these girls’ constant belittling, Raina branches out and finds her own voice and a new group of friends. Young girls will relate to her story, and her friend-angst is palpable. Readers should not overlook this seemingly simply drawn work; the strong writing and emotionally expressive characters add an unexpected layer of depth. As an afterword, the author includes a photo of her smiling, showing off the results of all of the years of pain she endured. Irresistible, funny and touching—a must read for all teenage girls, whether en-braced or not. (Graphic memoir. 12 & up)

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2010

ISBN: 978-0-545-13205-3

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Bantam Discovery

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2010

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DAVID GOES TO SCHOOL

The poster boy for relentless mischief-makers everywhere, first encountered in No, David! (1998), gives his weary mother a rest by going to school. Naturally, he’s tardy, and that’s but the first in a long string of offenses—“Sit down, David! Keep your hands to yourself! PAY ATTENTION!”—that culminates in an afterschool stint. Children will, of course, recognize every line of the text and every one of David’s moves, and although he doesn’t exhibit the larger- than-life quality that made him a tall-tale anti-hero in his first appearance, his round-headed, gap-toothed enthusiasm is still endearing. For all his disruptive behavior, he shows not a trace of malice, and it’ll be easy for readers to want to encourage his further exploits. (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-590-48087-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 1999

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