The small New York town in which Konigsburg offered a View From Saturday (1996, Newbery Medal) is again the setting for a series of rich and subtle studies in friendship and family. It’s framed as a whodunit. Someone dropped baby Nikki, who now lies in the hospital in critical condition. From what Vivian, her au pair, says on the 911 tape and in a later deposition, it was Nikki’s teenaged half-brother Branwell—who can’t defend himself because he’s retreated into utter, seemingly unresponsive silence. Fortunately, Branwell has a stubborn, sharply observant friend in Connor, the narrator, who finds a way to communicate using homemade flash cards and eye blinks, then, at Branwell’s unspoken direction, embarks on a series of fact-finding expeditions. The pieces fall neatly into place as Connor, with his older half-sister Margaret, analyzes new information and interviews potential suspects, from Vivian, as smarmy a minx as ever was, to a pizza deliverer she has been seeing on the sly—who, conveniently, turns out to be a witness requiring little persuasion to tell all. The mystery of Branwell’s mutism remains, however, and Konigsburg handles that with more expertise, revealing how his silence after the incident had roots in his silence about certain earlier events. In the end, Nikki and Branwell make full recoveries and justice catches up with the true culprit. What starts out as an intriguing plot turns predictable, but Konigsburg’s characters and the textures of their relationships are fascinating and worth every minute spent with them. (Fiction. 11-13)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2000

ISBN: 0-689-83601-5

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Atheneum

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2000


In an age of missing children, Kehret (The Blizzard Disaster, 1998, etc.) spins an exciting tale about a deranged mother and the child—not hers’she stalks. Ginger has long had the feeling that somebody is watching her; during her 13th birthday party in a restaurant, she sees a strange woman staring at her, who also appears to write down the license plate number when Ginger’s family drives away. Questions nag at Ginger but she brushes them off, facing other, more ordinary problems. A meddlesome parent, Mrs. Vaughn, is trying to get Mr. Wren, Ginger’s basketball coach, fired; wanting more playing time for her own daughter, Mrs. Vaughn has concocted a list of complaints, claiming that Mr. Wren doesn’t teach basic skills. Ginger, an aspiring sports announcer, has videotaped many of the practices and has the evidence to prove Mrs. Vaughn wrong, but is afraid—as is most of the community—of getting on the woman’s wrong side. The stalking of Ginger, her near-kidnapping, and her attempt to live honorably by coming forward to save Mr. Wren converge in a dramatic climax. While the story reads like a thriller, the character development and moral dilemmas add depth and substance. (Fiction. 10-12)

Pub Date: April 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-525-46153-1

Page Count: 154

Publisher: Dutton

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 1999


A breezy middle-school romance from Frank (Will You Be My Brussels Sprout?, 1996, etc.). Not only does the level of domestic tension rise rapidly after her mother’s Uncle Max, recovering from a stroke, moves into the cramped Cooper apartment, but Joy suddenly finds herself on the outs with her best friend Maple, who has become joined at the hip to amateur musician Wade. Joy makes a new connection, too, due to some surreptitious matchmaking by Uncle Max: enter a friendly, eminently promising older schoolmate, also named Max. While this budding relationship is growing into full-scale delirium, Joy returns the favor by encouraging Uncle Max and his garrulous neighbor, Rose, to spend time together; by the end, Uncle Max follows Rose to her winter quarters in Florida, and offers to trade his roomy apartment for theirs. Cast with likable, well-meaning characters, driven more by cheers than tears, this tidily resolved New York City tale will please Frank’s fans, and send newcomers to her earlier books. (Fiction. 11-13)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-7894-2538-6

Page Count: 277

Publisher: DK Publishing

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 1999

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