Purple prose unlikely to hold the attention of young, independent readers.

THE DAY THE RAINBOW CAME ALIVE

In Halward’s debut chapter book, four magical creatures born of the rainbow bring messages of hope, love, sharing and respect to children around the world.

As this self-proclaimed “remarkable story full of charm and unforgettable adventures” opens, the world faces total darkness. After the world is deluged with months of rain (despite which the trees dry up), the sun finally breaks through the clouds, and a rainbow appears. In the magic that follows, six rainbow-colored creatures appear, each with a mission to bring a particular emotion or virtue to the children of the world. Of the six creatures, which are round spheres with hands and feet, big eyes and velvety skin, only four have adventures in this book. Blummy, the blue sphere, teaches sharing to bullies in Mexico; Grenny, the green sphere, helps a family of New Yorkers who lost their dog hold onto hope that she will be found; Remmy, the red sphere, helps a lonely girl in Russia realize she can make friends; and Pattyna, the purple sphere, enlists the help of a dragon to save a village in China from a mudslide. It’s a wonderful idea to use several locations around the world for these stories, but in practice, the book gives little feeling of diversity. The bullied child in Mexico is Johnny, who attends a school that feels American; the only cultural detail offered is his grandmother making him tacos for lunch. The Russian children have Russian-sounding names, but the story could otherwise happen in any winter forest in which friendly bears live. Halward has her Chinese children explain the meanings of each of their names, making their introductions feel similar to those of a baby-name book; the dragon, which breathes fire and has wings, acts more like a Western dragon than its Chinese counterpart. Young’s brightly colored, cartoonish illustrations are the highlights here, but while they may attract young readers, they cannot save the book from its text-heavy story.

Purple prose unlikely to hold the attention of young, independent readers.

Pub Date: Feb. 13, 2014

ISBN: 978-1493169139

Page Count: 80

Publisher: Xlibris

Review Posted Online: May 15, 2014

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A YA novel that treats its subject and its readers with respect while delivering an engaging story.

BROTHERS IN ARMS

BLUFORD HIGH SERIES #9

In the ninth book in the Bluford young-adult series, a young Latino man walks away from violence—but at great personal cost.

In a large Southern California city, 16-year-old Martin Luna hangs out on the fringes of gang life. He’s disaffected, fatherless and increasingly drawn into the orbit of the older, rougher Frankie. When a stray bullet kills Martin’s adored 8-year-old brother, Huero, Martin seems to be heading into a life of crime. But Martin’s mother, determined not to lose another son, moves him to another neighborhood—the fictional town of Bluford, where he attends the racially diverse Bluford High. At his new school, the still-grieving Martin quickly makes enemies and gets into trouble. But he also makes friends with a kind English teacher and catches the eye of Vicky, a smart, pretty and outgoing Bluford student. Martin’s first-person narration supplies much of the book’s power. His dialogue is plain, but realistic and believable, and the authors wisely avoid the temptation to lard his speech with dated and potentially embarrassing slang. The author draws a vivid and affecting picture of Martin’s pain and confusion, bringing a tight-lipped teenager to life. In fact, Martin’s character is so well drawn that when he realizes the truth about his friend Frankie, readers won’t feel as if they are watching an after-school special, but as though they are observing the natural progression of Martin’s personal growth. This short novel appears to be aimed at urban teens who don’t often see their neighborhoods portrayed in young-adult fiction, but its sophisticated characters and affecting story will likely have much wider appeal.

A YA novel that treats its subject and its readers with respect while delivering an engaging story.

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 2004

ISBN: 978-1591940173

Page Count: 152

Publisher: Townsend Press

Review Posted Online: Jan. 26, 2013

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A beautifully realized daydream; a fun yet thoughtful exploration of the complexities and possibilities hidden beneath...

GREGORY AND THE GRIMBOCKLE

In this debut middle-grade novel, a lonely boy finds friendship and learns about the magic of human connection.

Defined by the large mole on his lip, 10-year-old Gregory has grown distant from his family. He is friendless and withdrawn. Then one night a strange little creature emerges from Gregory’s mole. It is riding a (quite lovable) cockroach and can change size. This is the Grimbockle. The Grimbockle—one of many Bockles, who, like Palmer Cox’s Brownies, live at the peripheries of human awareness—tends to the exoodles that bind people together. Exoodles are long, transparent, noodlelike threads and are usually invisible. Once Gregory has his eyeballs painted with Carrot Juicy, though, he can see them. He joins the Grimbockle and the roach, traveling the exoodles as if on a high-speed roller coaster. Exoodles wither and die when people don’t look after their relationships. The Grimbockle is trying to repair a particularly sickly exoodle that links a boy to his mother. Can Gregory help—and can he mend the exoodles in his own life? Schubert follows delightedly in the footsteps of Roald Dahl, opening her unfortunate young protagonist’s eyes to a previously unseen world both weird and wondrous (yet for all its outlandish magic, oddly logical). The scenario is one of riotous imagination, while the Grimbockle himself—brought sweetly to life in black-and-white illustrations by Kraft—is a sprightly and good-natured little person, full of the type of singsong infelicities found in Dahl’s beloved nonhuman characters: “Is you ever seeing glimpses of squiggles in the corners of your twinklers but then they is disappearing in a snippety blink?” “ ‘Exoodles!’ shouted the Grimbockle in triumph. ‘Sometimes, hoo-mans is getting so twisty and wound up in extra exoodles that they is feeling gloomy blue and heavy all day long.’ ” The story is perhaps too much of a parable to fully match Dahl’s template; the adventure is safer and the threats less dark. Nonetheless, readers should fall willingly and with thrilled abandon into the fizzy, fanciful world of Gregory and his Grimbockle friend.

A beautifully realized daydream; a fun yet thoughtful exploration of the complexities and possibilities hidden beneath surface appearances.

Pub Date: Nov. 9, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-9911109-3-3

Page Count: 153

Publisher: New Wrinkle Publishing

Review Posted Online: Nov. 10, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2017

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