A ``First Book'' survey of a common learning disability, including a general description of its possible effects, both functional and emotional; anecdotal glimpses of kids struggling along undiagnosed, misunderstood by teachers and peers; and the outlook for success with specialized help. Upbeat color photos (including college students, thus extending readership) do a lot to set the positive tone of a book that should reassure dyslexics while it informs their families and classmates. Good list of ten organizations; glossary (seven words, including ``menial''—why bother?); ``For further reading'' (it's true that little is available, but this four-book list exaggerates the lack); index. (Nonfiction. 9-14)

Pub Date: Oct. 15, 1991

ISBN: 0-531-20030-2

Page Count: 64

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 1991


Medically, both squicky and hopeful; emotionally, unbelievably squeaky-clean.

A 12-year-old copes with a brain tumor.

Maddie likes potatoes and fake mustaches. Kids at school are nice (except one whom readers will see instantly is a bully); soon they’ll get to perform Shakespeare scenes in a unit they’ve all been looking forward to. But recent dysfunctions in Maddie’s arm and leg mean, stunningly, that she has a brain tumor. She has two surgeries, the first successful, the second taking place after the book’s end, leaving readers hanging. The tumor’s not malignant, but it—or the surgeries—could cause sight loss, personality change, or death. The descriptions of surgery aren’t for the faint of heart. The authors—parents of a real-life Maddie who really had a brain tumor—imbue fictional Maddie’s first-person narration with quirky turns of phrase (“For the love of potatoes!”) and whimsy (she imagines her medical battles as epic fantasy fights and pretends MRI stands for Mustard Rat from Indiana or Mustaches Rock Importantly), but they also portray her as a model sick kid. She’s frightened but never acts out, snaps, or resists. Her most frequent commentary about the tumor, having her skull opened, and the possibility of death is “Boo” or “Super boo.” She even shoulders the bully’s redemption. Maddie and most characters are white; one cringe-inducing hallucinatory surgery dream involves “chanting island natives” and a “witch doctor lady.”

Medically, both squicky and hopeful; emotionally, unbelievably squeaky-clean. (authors’ note, discussion questions) (Fiction. 9-11)

Pub Date: Oct. 3, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-62972-330-3

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Shadow Mountain

Review Posted Online: Aug. 1, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2017


This hopeful adventure leaves an indelible mark.

A rare disorder elicits fear in a young Black artist with a unique sense of the world.

Seventh grader Etta’s Quiet Days are becoming more frequent and, frankly, irritating since her “maybe-diagnosis” of Ménière’s disease in both her ears. Her parents are monitoring her diet, vigilant about stressors, and learning ASL. In contrast to Etta’s Loud Days, not being able to hear sometimes makes it easier to focus on her comic book about Invincible Girl (the novel includes some enticing panels featuring Etta’s work). But, as peculiar weather patterns begin to overwhelm her Chicago neighborhood and exacerbate her allergies, the corresponding tinnitus and vertigo as well as the increased anxiety from everyone around her leave Etta feeling hopeless. Even meeting Eleazar, an artsy new Colombian friend with an adorable goldendoodle, leads to doubts about her abilities to communicate—Eleazar is also still learning English—and her future with Ménière’s. When Eleazar’s dog gets lost on a magical train that is linked to the weird weather, the two must traverse the train cars, solve mysteries, and overcome their fears to fix what’s broken and heal what can’t be fixed. Just like the magical challenges, their journey yields great emotional rewards. Even as Etta and Eleazar make new connections, losses—of family, hearing, and home—are somber reminders of life’s challenges. With snappy narration that’s rich in sensory detail and metaphor, readers progress through well-paced storytelling that is ethereal and artfully inclusive.

This hopeful adventure leaves an indelible mark. (Fiction. 10-13)

Pub Date: July 12, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-5344-6837-5

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Aladdin

Review Posted Online: May 9, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2022

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