THE HOME PLACE

I loved Hound Dog Man and felt it never got the audience it deserved. Now comes Fred Gipson's second book, with fewer ingredients of sure popularity (or so I felt- in the dog and boy theme of the first book), but again with that contagious love of the outdoors. He has told this time the story of a country-bred man- a Texan — who stakes everything he has in buying back the old home place, and bringing his motherless boys and homesick old grandfather away from the city where he's never felt he belonged. The house is a ramshackle shell; the furnishing sparse and inadequate; the fields eroded and crop-worn; and nature refuses to cooperate. But he's home again, is Sam Crockett, and the old man's tales grow increasingly picturesque as nostalgia for the days of his youth battles the restrictions of modern fenced-in ranches which curb his hunting and fishing. To city-bred boys there are overwhelming problems of adjustment, particularly to sensitive, frightened Steve. But the family bond was strong, and there was a depth of understanding and sympathy that bridged all gaps — even the seemingly insuperable economic one, while Sam fought through to a measure of success. Throughout, there is a tenuous thread of romance — a bitter story of a battle with a chiselling neighbor — and the intense all-pervading sense of the pull of the country itself. The old grandfather is a grass-roots figure, a humorous, almost folklore character. And how Fred Gipson can write! There isn't the legend in the making quality the other book had- nor the sentimental appeal. But it has a warm humanity and much of poetry too.

Pub Date: Sept. 27, 1950

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: -

Publisher: Harper

Review Posted Online: April 26, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 1950

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Readers can still rely on this series to bring laughs.

WRECKING BALL

From the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series , Vol. 14

The Heffley family’s house undergoes a disastrous attempt at home improvement.

When Great Aunt Reba dies, she leaves some money to the family. Greg’s mom calls a family meeting to determine what to do with their share, proposing home improvements and then overruling the family’s cartoonish wish lists and instead pushing for an addition to the kitchen. Before bringing in the construction crew, the Heffleys attempt to do minor maintenance and repairs themselves—during which Greg fails at the work in various slapstick scenes. Once the professionals are brought in, the problems keep getting worse: angry neighbors, terrifying problems in walls, and—most serious—civil permitting issues that put the kibosh on what work’s been done. Left with only enough inheritance to patch and repair the exterior of the house—and with the school’s dismal standardized test scores as a final straw—Greg’s mom steers the family toward moving, opening up house-hunting and house-selling storylines (and devastating loyal Rowley, who doesn’t want to lose his best friend). While Greg’s positive about the move, he’s not completely uncaring about Rowley’s action. (And of course, Greg himself is not as unaffected as he wishes.) The gags include effectively placed callbacks to seemingly incidental events (the “stress lizard” brought in on testing day is particularly funny) and a lampoon of after-school-special–style problem books. Just when it seems that the Heffleys really will move, a new sequence of chaotic trouble and property destruction heralds a return to the status quo. Whew.

Readers can still rely on this series to bring laughs. (Graphic/fiction hybrid. 8-12)

Pub Date: Nov. 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4197-3903-3

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Amulet/Abrams

Review Posted Online: Nov. 19, 2019

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THE WONKY DONKEY

The print version of a knee-slapping cumulative ditty.

In the song, Smith meets a donkey on the road. It is three-legged, and so a “wonky donkey” that, on further examination, has but one eye and so is a “winky wonky donkey” with a taste for country music and therefore a “honky-tonky winky wonky donkey,” and so on to a final characterization as a “spunky hanky-panky cranky stinky-dinky lanky honky-tonky winky wonky donkey.” A free musical recording (of this version, anyway—the author’s website hints at an adults-only version of the song) is available from the publisher and elsewhere online. Even though the book has no included soundtrack, the sly, high-spirited, eye patch–sporting donkey that grins, winks, farts, and clumps its way through the song on a prosthetic metal hoof in Cowley’s informal watercolors supplies comical visual flourishes for the silly wordplay. Look for ready guffaws from young audiences, whether read or sung, though those attuned to disability stereotypes may find themselves wincing instead or as well.

Hee haw. (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: May 1, 2010

ISBN: 978-0-545-26124-1

Page Count: 26

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Dec. 29, 2018

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