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THE AFTERWARDS

Gripping and poignant, a look at what it means to be brave and alive in the face of loss.

When Ember’s best friend, Ness, dies, Ember tries to bring her back to the world of the living.

December, or Ember, as she is known to her family, and her next-door neighbor Happiness, or Ness, have been best friends for three years. Ember is shocked and bewildered when it is announced at school one morning that Ness has died after a fall from a swing at the park. She is distracted enough to accompany her layabout uncle to his house after school, but his intentions are not good. In a strange, black-and-white place, he exchanges Ember’s life for that of his beloved dog, who has just died. Ember discovers Ness here, sadly subdued and lacking interest—but Ember wants her back. Gravett’s full-color illustrations perfectly channel Harrold’s narrative, Ember’s feisty character, and the sense of slightly spooky, sad otherness in this place after life. Here are shadows of creatures that were alive but that seem to fade away like smoke. “It’s where forgetting happens,” a cat tells Ember. “Echoes….Your people echo longest, that’s all. Nothing more.” In addition to Gravett’s pictures, the striking design disorients readers with words that spiral and slide and a white-on-black nighttime interlude. Ember and her widowed dad have light-brown skin and dark hair; Ness is black.

Gripping and poignant, a look at what it means to be brave and alive in the face of loss. (Fiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: March 19, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5476-0044-1

Page Count: 208

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Review Posted Online: Nov. 25, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2018

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CHARLOTTE'S WEB

The three way chats, in which they are joined by other animals, about web spinning, themselves, other humans—are as often...

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A successful juvenile by the beloved New Yorker writer portrays a farm episode with an imaginative twist that makes a poignant, humorous story of a pig, a spider and a little girl.

Young Fern Arable pleads for the life of runt piglet Wilbur and gets her father to sell him to a neighbor, Mr. Zuckerman. Daily, Fern visits the Zuckermans to sit and muse with Wilbur and with the clever pen spider Charlotte, who befriends him when he is lonely and downcast. At the news of Wilbur's forthcoming slaughter, campaigning Charlotte, to the astonishment of people for miles around, spins words in her web. "Some Pig" comes first. Then "Terrific"—then "Radiant". The last word, when Wilbur is about to win a show prize and Charlotte is about to die from building her egg sac, is "Humble". And as the wonderful Charlotte does die, the sadness is tempered by the promise of more spiders next spring.

The three way chats, in which they are joined by other animals, about web spinning, themselves, other humans—are as often informative as amusing, and the whole tenor of appealing wit and pathos will make fine entertainment for reading aloud, too.

Pub Date: Oct. 15, 1952

ISBN: 978-0-06-026385-0

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Sept. 14, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 1952

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FAKER

Glitzy glimpses of life on the make, lightened by a focus on alternatives rather than consequences.

A con man’s son yearns for a different way of life.

Having helped his single dad fleece wealthy marks since kindergarten, Trey is adept at spotting their rich offspring in each new school he attends and cultivating them until the time comes for a quick getaway. Now that he’s 12, though, the urge to make real friends and put down some roots has become insistent—particularly since he’s drawn to Kaylee, a new classmate in his latest middle school. How can he convince his dad, who’s in the midst of luring local investors into a fantastically lucrative scheme involving a fictive electric car, that it’s time to bag the family profession and settle down? Korman goes more for ironic humor than the physical or stand-up sort in this book, as shown by Trey’s enrollment in an ethics class that forces him into some decidedly hypocritical stances. Much like Trey himself, instant new bestie Logan and his parents turn out to be not at all who they seem. And though there are no bullies or real baddies in the cast on the way to the story’s rosy but implausible resolution, Trey’s malign, high-strung, and wildly reckless huckster of a little sister from hell definitely adds both conflict and suspense to this provocative outing. Main characters read white.

Glitzy glimpses of life on the make, lightened by a focus on alternatives rather than consequences. (Fiction. 9-12)

Pub Date: July 2, 2024

ISBN: 9781338826753

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: April 5, 2024

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2024

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