An uneven effort; still, youngsters not ready for Harry Potter will find comfort here.

READ REVIEW

ODDFELLOW'S ORPHANAGE

An undeniably charming story about the characters, albeit one-dimensional, who form a family at Oddfellow’s Orphanage.

Headmaster Oddfellow Bluebeard, tame relation to the infamous Bluebeard, and Professor Stella dash off at night to rescue Delia. By morning, they have brought her back to Oddfellow’s Orphanage, haven to peculiar children orphaned by events natural, unexplained or, in two cases, jarringly violent. Here, bears dance, cooks serve hot chocolate and staff call their charges “dear.” The residents include Delia, who does not speak (readers never find out exactly why), tattooed Imogen, Hugo the hedgehog boy, “onion-headed” Ollie and several others, some of whom do not merit more than a mention. In her debut, Martin relies on third-person narration and uses adjectives such as “cozy,” “twinkling” and “pretty” to set a scene of happy companionship. Although somewhat reminiscent of Hogwarts, with classes such as cryptozoology (“the study of mysterious and possibly imagined animals”) and F.T. (“fairy tales and folktales”) Studies, readers will find no bullies or evil at Oddfellow’s. The rare time that one child misbehaves, all is forgiven. Small, safe adventures take place between March and New Year’s, when a new babe appears on the doorstep. Pencil drawings appear throughout (final art not seen), adding to the feeling of warmth.

An uneven effort; still, youngsters not ready for Harry Potter will find comfort here.   (Fantasy. 7-10)

Pub Date: Jan. 24, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-375-86995-2

Page Count: 144

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: Sept. 28, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2011

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In all, it's an unsuccessful follow-up to Weeks' Pie (2011), but word-loving Melody is appealing, and her appended list of...

HONEY

Melody Bishop's peaceful life with her widower father is upset when the annoying 6-year-old next door comes home from the beauty parlor with some gossip.

The 10-year-old has already noticed her father's increased distraction and a new tendency to whistle, so when Teeny Nelson reports that "Henry's been bitten by the love bug," Melody is avid to know more. With her best friend, biracial Nick Woo, at her side, she goes to the Bee Hive beauty salon to investigate. What she discovers there rocks her world not once but twice, as salon owner Bee-Bee has information about Melody's mother, who died in childbirth and about whom her father never speaks. Weeks gets the small moments right: Melody's exasperation with Teeny and the way it turns to sympathy when the little girl's mother threatens a spanking; her affectionate resignation when her grandfather, who has emphysema, sneaks out to the garage for a smoke. And Melody's close relationship with her loving father is sweetly evoked. But other elements fail to cohere. Obvious misdirection leads Melody to a critical misunderstanding that never amounts to more than a plot contrivance, and the mystical visions of Bee-Bee's dog, Mo, who has an unknown connection to Melody, strain credulity.

In all, it's an unsuccessful follow-up to Weeks' Pie (2011), but word-loving Melody is appealing, and her appended list of nail-polish colors is somewhat amusing. (Fiction. 7-10)

Pub Date: Jan. 27, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-545-46557-1

Page Count: 160

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Nov. 4, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2014

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Move over Ramona Quimby, Portland has another neighbor you have to meet! (Fiction. 8-10)

WAYS TO MAKE SUNSHINE

Ryan Hart is navigating the fourth grade and all its challenges with determination.

Her mom named her Ryan because it means “king,” and she wanted Ryan to feel powerful every time she heard her name; Ryan knows it means she is a leader. So when changes occur or disaster strikes, budding chef Ryan does her best to find the positive and “make sunshine.” When her dad is laid off from the post office, the family must make adjustments that include moving into a smaller house, selling their car, and changing how they shop for groceries. But Ryan gets to stay at Vernon Elementary, and her mom still finds a way to get her the ingredients she needs to practice new recipes. Her older brother, Ray, can be bossy, but he finds little ways to support her, especially when she is down—as does the whole family. Each episodic chapter confronts Ryan with a situation; intermittently funny, frustrating, and touching, they should be familiar and accessible to readers, as when Ryan fumbles her Easter speech despite careful practice. Ryan, her family, and friends are black, and Watson continues to bring visibility to both Portland, Oregon, generally and its black community specifically, making another wonderful contribution that allows black readers to see themselves and all readers to find a character they can love.

Move over Ramona Quimby, Portland has another neighbor you have to meet! (Fiction. 8-10)

Pub Date: April 28, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5476-0056-4

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Review Posted Online: Jan. 21, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2020

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